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Biggest turn out in a decade for Happy Valley Opening Weekend

Biggest turn out in a decade for Happy Valley Opening Weekend

Skiiers flock to Mt Ruapehu for ski season opening weekend

MT RUAPEHU 7 JUNE 2017: A record number of skiiers, snowboarders and sightseers headed to Mt Ruapehu's Happy Valley over the long weekend - the biggest season opening turnout in the last decade for Happy Valley, New Zealand’s premier beginner’s playground.

More than 2,700 people headed up the mountain on Saturday and Sunday to check out the 'new look' Happy Valley, a huge increase on the 578 for Opening Weekend in 2006. The highest turn out before then in the last decade was 1,904 visitors in 2014.

Happy Valley’s Opening Weekend smashed the record for the last decade with a 43 percent increase in visitor numbers compared to 2014 and a 171 percent increase compared to the average of the past decade.

Ross Copland, CEO of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) says, "Our new snow machine is in full swing and thanks to the snow it's pumping out we were able to open Happy Valley a whole month earlier than last year. This means that we can cement an annual ski season opening date without having to rely on the sometimes-fickle weather to deliver snow.

"The early season opening is great news not only for Mt Ruapehu, but also the entire district as accommodation providers, restaurants, cafes and ski hire shops are all already busy."

The RAL team has been working through the summer to finish an exciting transformation at Happy Valley. As well as reliable snow, three new carpet lifts are being installed - two will be covered by see-through gallery tunnels. Installation of the all new access elevators, which will replace the old Happy Valley access chairlift is well underway and are expected to be running in July.

It’s not just Happy Valley receiving new upgrades, there is now double the snowmaking on Whakapapa’s lower mountain and more snowmaking at Turoa. The new TF10 Snow Guns on Whakapapa lower mountain have been blasting snow this week when conditions have allowed.

Further scheduled work over the coming month includes the new Delta Quad chairlift on Whakapapa’s upper mountain, which includes snowmaking on Turtle Run and welcomes beginner/intermediate skiers to the upper mountain.

The Happy Valley Bistro has been completely transformed and the improvements were well received by guests over Opening Weekend. The first 50 customers through the doors on Saturday scored a complimentary Breakfast Pizza Slab to celebrate the early Opening Day.

Both Turoa & Whakapapa Ski Areas are scheduled to open on July 1st.

© Scoop Media

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