Suffering from the knock-on effects of adverse seasonal conditions and the global pandemic, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL), found itself in voluntary administration last year, a debilitating $45m in debt. The bleakness of their monetary position led to the Government stepping in, offering the beleaguered skifield operator a lifeline in the form of a $7m bailout to ensure operations continue for another half a year.
This financial reprieve signifies the fourth of such multimillion-dollar interventions in the span of twelve months. Initial reports last June indicated that RAL’s debt had swelled to an imposing $81.6m, incorporating a considerable $44m owed to approximately 15,000 ski pass holders. The decision to impart additional aid was made by the Cabinet.
A representative for the Minister of Local Government, Kieran McAnulty, elaborated on this lifeline, stating that the funding would absorb the critical maintenance costs incurred during summer. Beyond simply preserving the skifield, the representative acknowledged the importance of offering the community a sense of stability amidst uncertainty. She further emphasized the necessity for constructive dialogue with various stakeholders, iwi, and hapū to align their aspirations for the skifield.
While the financial solution is only temporary, it is hoped that it offers sufficient time for more in-depth discussions around enduring solutions. John Fisk, one of RAL’s administrators at PwC, expressed optimism around securing time and resources to make strategic planning for the 2024 season possible.
The Government’s support for RAL extended to previous grants in November 2022, amounting to $2m, followed by a loan of $5m in June this year. ANZ also contributed an additional $2m, reflecting the combined efforts to maintain both the skifield and the spirit of sporting recreation.
In a nutshell, RAL has received a total of $20m from the Government since last November, reflecting the committed efforts made at preserving a key representative of New Zealand’s natural heritage that binds community, commerce, and culture.