Sky Waka Gondola
2019 was a historic season with the all new Sky Waka Gondola at Whakapapa.

Sky Waka

The Story

The waka, celebrated by name in song and story by Māori poets and orators, we know it to be more than a voyaging canoe, more than a carrier of people – the waka carries family. All Māori, after all, have lineal ties with the chiefs of the great waka.

As the highest and longest gondola upon Te Ika a Maui, this is more than a machine. It is a vessel to bring people together, to elevate them, together, upon this great maunga. It is a thread, weaving earth and sky.

We celebrate the waka and its symbolism of interconnectedness between the past with the present and future. For this is surely a symbol of the future,ascending this ancient mountain.

Have a read below and see how the build progressed.

The Sky Waka is now open - click here for ticket information!

Sky Waka is OPEN

An incredible opening day for the brand new Sky Waka!

The sun was out and the stoke was high. Congrats to our 10 first cabin riders for scoring the goods. See you up here! Ride the sky. Ride the Sky Waka 🚡

Opening Day

Evacuation Training

29 June

Callum Learmonth (Safety Services Manager at Whakapapa)and his ski patrol team take care of rescue, avalanche control work and early morning checks. Evacuation is also a part of his team's pre-season training. Every aerial ropeway has a plan that, if for some reason the lift cannot be run mechanically, there is a rope system for evacuating passengers.

Click to view the full video and photos of the team in action.


29 June

Ross Copland with the latest update on the Sky Waka Gondola and the current progress taking place on this massive project.


25 June

Further progress being made on the Sky Waka gondola with work continuing on the final adjustments and moving into functional testing this week with safety being our number one priority. Here's a video of Jamie Sutherland our General Manager of Maintenance outlining the current testing procedures and adjustments begin made on the gondola.


24 June

Sky Waka Gondola Cabins

The Sky Waka gondola cabins are currently on the line for functional testing and final safety procedures.


23 June

Sky Waka progress is looking great, here’s Steve with an update on what is happening on the maunga and what to expect this week with the Sky Waka cabins currently running on the line for commissioning and safety testing.


8 June

Sky Waka Gondola cable in place

Another major milestone has been reached in the construction of Mt Ruapehu’s Sky Waka Gondola.

The cable that the cabins sit on, has been spliced and is now in place. The splice is the process of weaving the ends of the cable together once the cable is at the right length.

Read more in full release.


24 May

Video update from Steve at the Sky Waka drive station. Currently pulling the cable line which weighs 48,000kgs up to Knoll Ridge and back down using the drive station.


16 May

Along with the wind and the rain, the haul rope has arrived! The crew are preparing to run the rope in the coming week. Due to the weight of the rope, this will happen in three stages with two smaller gauge pilot ropes required in the process. All towers for the Sky Waka are now in place with towers 11 & 7 installed this past week. The material ropeway that has been instrumental in the construction of the gondola is due to be disassembled next week.

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