Who is RAL?
Company profile

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) was established in 1953. Fast forward almost 70 years, we now run a year-round operation on Mt Ruapehu. In winter, from June to October, this includes two world class ski areas – Whakapapa and Tūroa. In summer, from December to April, this includes our Mt Ruapehu summer sightseeing operation, heroing the iconic Sky Waka gondola.

Our guests

Each year we welcome up to 500,000 manuhiri (guests) to Mt Ruapehu. Many of our manuhiri have a life-long connection to Mt Ruapehu, some third or fourth generation. Others are brand new to the alpine environment. Mt Ruapehu is for most New Zealanders, their first experience on snow.

Our purpose at RAL is to deliver inspiring, empowering, and exceptional experiences to all manuhiri, as ‘New Zealand’s Peak Adventure’ – a nod not only to our altitude, but also our aspiration to be the best in New Zealand. We do this by ensuring every touch point, every interaction with our people, and every step taken on the maunga, helps guests ‘feel’ the mana of Mt Ruapehu, and have a great time doing so.

Snow sports

Our core business has long been in snow sports. In 1954 we installed the first chairlift on Whakapapa, opened by Sir Edmund Hillary. We now operate up to 17 lifts across both Whakapapa and Tūroa, the latter of which was acquired by RAL in 2000. Our operations also span 8 licensed cafes, lesson and rental provisions, retail and workshops.

Sightseeing

Our relatively new business is in sightseeing. In 2019, following a $25m investment, made up of grant and bond investment, we saw the establishment of the Sky Waka gondola. The Sky Waka gondola provides year-round access up the northern face of Mt Ruapehu for sightseers. Opening Mt Ruapehu to sightseers means more people can experience our unique alpine environment for themselves.

Our point of difference

Our competitive advantage versus other alpine adventures, both in NZ but also across the world, is our cultural, geographical, and geological standing. We operate within the Dual World Heritage, Tongariro National Park, acknowledged for its Māori cultural and spiritual associations, as well as its outstanding volcanic features.

Our business and infrastructure are built around the natural landscape. In Winter, this means vast and diverse, naturally flowing terrain. From half pipe like bowls, to exhilarating chutes, bumps, and drops. In Summer, the mountain is laid bare of snow, and you can really appreciate how rugged it is, viewing from the Sky Waka gondola above and on foot, and marvelling at how just a season later, the landscape transforms into a winter wonderland.

Our structure

To refer to RAL in a more technical sense, RAL is a limited purpose, public benefit entity, regulated under the Companies Act 1993 and our Constitution. Shareholders are philanthropic, in that they do not receive any form of benefit. While we are not required to pay company tax, our profits are invested into the provision, promotion, and development of amateur alpine sports for the public, within the Tongariro National Park.