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New Zealand’s newest on-mountain tourism experience has opened to sightseers. The new Sky Waka gondola travels 1.8 km through one of the North Island’s most rugged and spectacular landscapes, on the slopes of volcanic Mt. Ruapehu. The ride which passes waterfalls and snow-capped peaks will be equally as spectacular in the summer months, providing a whole new gateway and accessibility to the UNESCO Dual World Heritage status of Tongariro National Park and Whakapapa Ski Area.
The gondola travels from the Top of the Bruce base area directly to the Knoll Ridge Chalet (2020 m above sea level) and at peak times, is capable of transporting 2,400 people per hour over the 1.8 km in approximately five minutes.
Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) CEO Ross Copland said that it’s a proud and exciting moment for the RAL team and the whole of New Zealand. “Sky Waka is one of a kind in New Zealand and will transform the mountain visitor experience lifting it to a whole new level. Sky Waka also brings with it a huge economic boost for the local economy through accommodation, restaurant and other sightseeing activities and also opens up a lot of job opportunities for locals all year round.”
Until the upper mountain ski fields open for the 2019 winter ski season, Sky Waka will only be operating for sightseeing. Once riders reach Knoll Ridge Chalet, they can experience the magnificent views of the Pinnacles and valleys below while dining in three newly redeveloped hospitality areas which is “a breathtaking dining and sightseeing experience,” Copland added.