Mountainwatch | Press Release
MT RUAPEHU, 27 JUNE 2019: The final series of tests on the new Sky Waka gondola are underway and Mt Ruapehu has released a behind the scenes video showing exactly what’s being done.
Water filled barrels loaded into the gondola cabins to test a fully laden line and testing the anti-collision mechanism are just a few examples of the testing procedures.
Whakapapa GM Maintenance Jamie Sutherland leads the video tour saying that the series of tests are essential to ensure that the new Sky Waka is ready for the public to experience.
“All the gondola structures on the mountain are in place, the cabins are on the line and the final steps are to test the mechanical operation. This includes checking the grip force of the cabins onto the cable and that they’re securely attached, testing the brakes and it also involves the ski patrollers practising an evacuation.
“All going to plan the Sky Waka should host its first mountain visitors next week. The Mt Ruapehu team are all very excited and are looking forward to the feedback from visitors as they enjoy a stunning scenic ride in great comfort up the mountain.”
The Sky Waka is one of a kind in New Zealand and has been under construction throughout the summerl. It will travel 1.8 km’s through one of the North Island’s most rugged and spectacular landscapes past waterfalls and snow-laden peaks, the ride will be equally as spectacular in the summer months.
The new high-speed Sky Waka features fifty Sky Waka gondola cabins with floor to ceiling glass for breathtaking views, internal ski racks, audio and lighting and individual leather seats offering business-class luxury to passengers befitting of the UNESCO Dual World Heritage status of Whakapapa Ski Area. Each cabin accommodates 10 passengers and even the tallest skiers will be able to stand upright in the cabin with more than 2m of internal clearance.
The Sky Waka will run from the Top of the Bruce base area directly to the Knoll Ridge Chalet. It will transport 2,400 people per hour over the 1.8km in approximately 5 minutes.
As a public benefit entity RAL invests its proceeds back into developing the mountain’s facilities and the new gondola forms part of the $100m reinvestment strategy announced by the RAL board in 2015.
The Sky Waka project has been made possible by a loan from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF).