Building the new state-of-the-art Mt Ruapehu gondola was always expected to be a mammoth operation. Working high on a mountain is no easy feat and the ever-changing weather conditions are difficult to work around.
But despite all the obstacles, the Mt Ruapehu gondola is well underway and already, it’s looking very impressive.
We have to take our hats off to all those involved in the build. With a large team of designers, engineers, project managers and construction workers, the Mt Ruapehu gondola is taking shape and on schedule for completion by June this year – weather permitting!
As we approach the 2019 ski season, snow-goers will be looking forward to experiencing the new gondola. With a long stretch of amazing summer weather, the construction team were given ideal conditions to work in.
However, work is not done yet.
Being at the mercy of Mother Nature, if the weather decides to take a turn for the worse, work will be delayed until conditions come right again.
As the process of constructing the Mt Ruapehu gondola has been huge and we’re not quite at the finish line yet, we thought we’d give you an update on how it’s all going up there on the mountain.
Complex terrain biggest obstacle for Mt Ruapehu gondola
It goes without saying that the geographical location of the Mt Ruapehu gondola is an extremely tricky obstacle to get around. And there’s so much more to think about than the fact that the build is taking place on the face of a mountain! The volcanic rock composition, the transportation of concrete and building materials, the possibility of volcanic activity – there’s a lot to consider.
Jono Dean, Whakapapa’s General Manager, admits there have been many logistical factors that the construction team have had to overcome. In fact, it’s required so much out-of-the-box thinking that the project has evolved on a daily basis.
We have a huge amount of admiration for those working on the Mt Ruapehu gondola. The goal was to have the gondola completed by 1st June and they’re on track to achieving it.
How much construction has been done so far?
There is a team of 35 hands-on people working on the Mt Ruapehu gondola and about 100 others working behind the scenes. Every person plays an important role and their dedication has meant the project is on schedule.
When we talk about how much has been done and how much is left to do, it’s important to remember what we’re dealing with here. The Mt Ruapehu ‘Sky Waka’ gondola will feature 50 cabins all with floor-to-ceiling glass, internal ski racks, leather seats, audio and lighting.
Each of the 50 cabins will accommodate up to 10 passengers and, with a two-metre vertical clearance, even the tallest skiers can stand comfortably inside the cabins.
The Sky Waka gondola will run from the top of the Bruce base straight down to the Knoll Ridge Café. This spans 1.8km of the mountain. It’s estimated that the Sky Waka will transport 2,400 people every hour and only take five minutes to complete the run.
So far, the 14-tower foundations to support the Sky Waka are almost finished which is a huge achievement in itself. Work is now underway on the terminal stations where passengers will enter and exit the gondola.
2019 is set to be a historic ski season
The Mt Ruapehu ‘Sky Waka’ gondola is on schedule to open on 1st June, right at the beginning of the ski season. Thousands of snow-lovers look forward to the ski season each year but, this year, the promise of a new state-of-the-art gondola has taken the excitement up several notches.
With its unique design and luxury features, the Sky Waka is expected to transform the Whakapapa experience.
The day the gondola makes its first run with passengers on board will be a historical moment for the country’s largest ski field.
This year, your skiing and snowboarding adventures on Whakapapa will far surpass previous years.
Plan a trip to Mt Ruapehu this coming ski season and be among the first to ride the Sky Waka. We know the gondola will be an amazing addition to this already well-loved ski field.
It’s so-far-so-good for the construction of the Mt Ruapehu gondola. We can’t wait to get on the slopes of Whakapapa and try it out for the first time.
We’re starting to see the snowy peaks forming along Mt Tongariro, Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe. The cooler the weather gets, the whiter the mountains get. With the Whakapapa ski field only a 15-minute drive from The Park Hotel, you can enjoy views of the mountains before taking the short trip to the powdery slopes.
The Ruapehu ski season is a busy time here at The Park Hotel and we expect many guests will come to Tongariro National Park in June to check out the new gondola.
Book your accommodation with us sooner rather than later and be one of the first to set foot on the Sky Waka.
You don’t want to miss this historical moment.