First bid on the table for part of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts 18 minutes ago

A new entity wants to form a public company to buy the Turoa ski area on Mount Ruapehu and its assets in Ohakune.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) currently owns the Turoa operation, as well as the Whakapapa ski area, but the company collapsed last October.

Since then, managers have been working on a long-term solution for the future of the ski fields.

John Sandford heads Turoa Alpine Limited and is confident that shareholders will be able to raise the $8 to $10 million needed to purchase Turoa.

He said the entity would focus on broader business and community engagement in the Ohakune area.

While he was not at liberty to name others associated with the entity, Nine to Noon’s Sandford said local business owners and residents were also among them.

If the bid is successful, the entity’s intention would be to provide, over time, the opportunity for other people to conduct various commercial activities, such as retail and hospitality, on the mountain, he said.

“Ultimately our focus is on ensuring that the actual facilities are fit for purpose, comply with DOC requirements and all other health and safety requirements and are operating properly, and [to] make sure the infrastructure, if you want, works well for the business.”

Sandford said that while RAL had been profitable for “many, many years”, it had not been capitalized well enough to endure some poor seasons recently.

Turoa Alpine Limited’s intention would be to have enough money in the bank to “operate with three bad seasons from this year and the next two years – so three years.”

Records showed that Ruapehu and Turoa had not had three bad seasons in a row, he said.

“But we are actually budgeting for three bad seasons in a row.”

Asked how Turoa Alpine Limited would address the issue of Life Pass holders if the bid was successful, Sandford acknowledged that the details needed to be worked out.

“Whatever proposal we come up with, we will respect the current situation of life pass holders and work with their representatives – and even individually if necessary – to come up with something that may not satisfy everyone, but hopefully the majority.”

However, a group of life pass holders want everyone who buys RAL to keep it as one, connected company.

Life card holder representative Sam Clarkson told Nine to Noon that people wanted the freedom to use both ski areas under one pass.

“We believe that the medicine that Turoa needs is exactly the same medicine that Whakapapa needs and that if we start applying that medicine, we will do better on both sides of the mountain for all mountain users.”

The life pass holders have their own proposal for the ski resorts to be community owned and non-profit.