Ski road access facts 2020


Why skiing is like religion

Here are some facts:

My rights are being violated.

Unless you have a Platinum Pass, your season or life pass provides you no more guarantee of access of parking than it has any other year. Your Fair Trading or Consumer Guarantee rights have not been violated. Perceived inconvenience due to change is not a violation.

While we’re on the subject, your season or life pass doesn’t give you any special rights at all. Further you’re not contributing nearly as usefully as your average casual snow tourist.

Be nice

The rights that you are guaranteed are in the NZ Bill of Rights. In essence, they say be nice to other people.

The staff at the ski fields, working on the roads, in the I-Sites and the Visitors’ Centre, in other local businesses and on social media are just doing their jobs. 17 generations of skiing on Ruapehu, season/life pass ownership, and/or an enhanced sense of entitlement do not give you any right or privilege to be rude, abusive or threatening.

It’s a public road – you can’t stop us.

The Bruce Road is not a public road. It is a special purpose road, managed under law by DOC, sub-delegated to TPP for operational management. Like Mangatepopo Road, it can be closed or otherwise controlled for any number of reasons, safety concerns are the most common reason.

We’ll walk up then

Attempting to walk up the Bruce Road from the barrier would probably deemed a safety issue when the snow berms obstructs the shoulder and vehicles are driving on ice and snow. Darwin will appreciate the validation though…

There’s no real problem

Everyone who has been saying there’s not really a problem is either in lala land or is a first time visitor. Since at least 2014, traffic congestion on SH48 and the Bruce Road has blocked access for visitors, commercial traffic and emergency services.

The ‘first in’ approach to parking has become less and less effective over the same period. As a result, more and more visitors have been departing overnight locations earlier and earlier to try to get a park. This means increasing number of vehicles on the roads above 900 metres where ice is most common and at the times it is most likely…just trying to get in for a park.

The sightseers are spoiling it for everyone.

The sightseers are now representative of ‘everyone’. The market has changed since Happy Valley was upgraded and the Snow Factory commissioned in 2017, and the Sky Waka was launched in 2019. Snow tourism and snow play are now more significant parts of the market – they are also better behaved and less rude.

We pay for parking already

Not yet you don’t. It costs DOC and RAL to maintain the car parks and the Bruce Road for non-commercial visitor traffic. Visitors to the ski fields only contribute to this indirectly via tax and passes.

Introducing a car park booking system was not the only option. It would have been as easy to close the Bruce Road to all but commercial vehicles and rerole the car parks for more profitable purposes eg skating, and require all visitors to catch commercial transport. This would have the side effect of reducing transport costs due to economies of bulk – when you bitch about the costs of transport services, be careful what you wish for.

You can’t stop us parking on the roadside.

Neither SH48 nor the Bruce Road have a road reserve. if you park off the road, you are technically parking inside the Park outside a designated parking area. DOC can and has enforced this in the past. For bonus points, if parking off the road, and if you are too tight to put your pets into a motel you will get zapped twice.

Tukino, here we come

How long do you think it will be before the management at Tukino starts to adopt similar practices to control numbers..? For the same reasons…

RAL is blocking access to the Park for hikers (and swimmers)

Access to Scoria Flat is not being blocked. However, such access has been abused by elements of the ski community previously. You do get that license plate numbers are being tracked this year? It’s not a big leap that vehicles that abuse this access will be restricted.

This will hurt locals

Most locals and local businesses favour the changes. I work and live here and yesterday’s statement from our Mayor Don Cameron sums up local sentiment:

Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron said that the new Whakapapa and Turoa ski area car park booking system is part of the commitment to giving visitors the best possible experience while helping to manage other critical issues such as road safety, the environment and maintaining Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) and Manaakitanga (host) responsibilities.

If you’re going to claim that these changes will adversely affect local communities and businesses, be specific. State your sources. Identify which businesses you claim to be representing. I speak to dozens of locals and visitors every day. Your views are not the majority view, not by a good country kilometre…

Just book out all the parks, then don’t use them

You can free your booked parked if for some reason you cannot use it. There will probably be those that try to sabotage the system with false bookings. The Crimes Act covers this kind of offence. Abuse may lead to a requirement for a credit card to be register for purposes of identification. RAL hasn’t made any statement one way or another but it would be a reasonable assumption that frequent no-show offenders may be subject to some form of restriction.

Your choice

RAL had a less than stellar 2019. The Sky Waka construction prevented summer 18/19 being business as usual, a five week weather system caused an unusually long close period, and various issues and teething problems affected the later part of the season. Planning for the winter season was underway in February and March, just in time for all of the to be knocked back by COVID-19 and the lockdown. It’s a fair assumption that RAL is currently heavily influenced by its financiers, hindering its ability to make experience-based decisions.

COVID has affected all of us here on the Volcanic Plateau and we don’t really know what the future will bring. Visitor numbers in levels 3 and 4 have probably been better than expected but with no indication whether this is the new normal or just a slowly deflating bubble as new financial realities hit home.

The constant carping from the entitled and ignorant minority only undermines what we are doing in Ruapehu. If you don’t like it and feel that strongly, then don’t come…a small bitter minority will not be missed…

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