Skiers and snowboarders get ready - the Turoa and Whakapapa ski areas will open this year.

Mt Ruapehu Alpine Lifts plans to open the first ski area in the last weekend of June or first weekend of July in time for the July school holidays.

The exact date is still to be confirmed and will be dependent on a number of factors, including snowfall and the alert level restrictions that exist at the time, an update on RAL's Facebook page said.

The new dates - like always - will also depend on snowfall.


The operator had originally planned to open Happy Valley on May 30 for Queen's Birthday Weekend but the date had to be pushed back due to delays around maintenance, preparation and hiring staff caused by the lockdown.

However the Sky Waka, which opened last year, will be operating for sightseeing over Queen's Birthday weekend providing the weather allows.

At this stage the plan was to open both Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields every day the weather permits, with top to bottom skiing and riding. However it was unlikely all lifts would run.

RAL chief executive Jono Dean said they had been working closely with the Ministry of Health and bank to make sure they could meet the level 2 requirements which meant the ski areas would look quite a bit different this year.

He wanted to reassure customers they were working diligently behind the scenes to get the mountain ready for 2020.

Dean earlier told the Herald that 55 per cent of staff employed usually came from overseas which could leave large gaps in some of its skill sets such as ski and snowboard instructors who offered lessons.

RAL would look to fill other roles such as customer service roles locally or regionally when it knew how many people it needed, but it was likely to be a lot less than the 600 to 700 staff usually required.

Mt Ruapehu alert level lifted after crater lake temperature rises 20C
Covid 19 coronavirus: Mt Ruapehu ski season in limbo as restrictions threaten to freeze opening plans
Scientists closely monitoring as Mt Ruapehu's summit lake heats up
Scientists monitoring Ruapehu as crater lake heats up