Mt Ruapehu's ski season is set to open in a month.

Details on managing Covid-19 restrictions are yet to be worked through but it is planned to open Whakapapa and Tūroa ski areas on July 1, though not all facilities will be operating.

"We're all looking forward to opening the mountain for skiing this winter in a few weeks – dependent on snowfall of course," RAL chief executive Jono Dean said.

"Our focus is offering top to bottom skiing at both ski areas, with a beginner focus at Whakapapa's Happy Valley. Due to the time lost during lockdown and the inability to bring in overseas expertise to work on some of our lifts, we won't be able to open every lift this season."

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At Whakapapa, the Happy Valley Carpets, Rangatira Express (weekends and inclement weather days), Sky Waka Gondola and Knoll T-Bar lifts will be open.

The Movenpick Quad chairlift, Giant Triple chairlift and High Noon Express will operate at Tūroa.

Depending on demand, the Valley T-Bar at Whakapapa and Parklane/Wintergarden at Tūroa may open later in the season.

"The winter 2020 season at Mt Ruapehu will be unlike any other and the team is striving to offer the best possible ski season for everyone," Dean said.

The Sky Waka will be operating at Queen's Birthday Weekend but only for sightseeing. Photo / Supplied
The Sky Waka will be operating at Queen's Birthday Weekend but only for sightseeing. Photo / Supplied

This season there will not be any night skiing at Whakapapa or First Tracks, and RAL will not operate a transport shuttle service. The service will instead be provided by local operators.

"Staffing is also stretched due to the borders being closed to the usual overseas ski staff coming in, so this will leave some gaps in our teams. Fortunately, we have been able to retain all of our permanent and summer staff through the lockdown, and we have a great bunch of returning locals who will be able to fill some vacancies.

"There will still be some jobs available, and those will be advertised on the Mt Ruapehu website once we have our 2020 team confirmed," Dean said.

The exact details of Covid-19 restrictions and how they will apply to
mountain visitors won't be known until the Government announces changes to
alert levels on June 22.

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The Sky Waka is open for sightseeing only over Queen's Birthday weekend.

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