Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Limited (RAL), the company that operates the Whakapapa and Tūroa skifields in the central North Island, New Zealand, has gone into voluntary administration. The company had no choice after a bailout request from the government was rejected.
In a press release this morning, John Fisk and Richard Nacey of PwC, the appointed voluntary administrators, blamed a problematic three years that have included covid-19 restrictions and poor snow.
“The Company has had a very difficult last three years, with the impact of Covid-19 restrictions, paired with poor weather this season, meaning that the business has been placed under significant cash flow pressure.”
– Voluntary Administrator John Fisk
The company employs approximately 196 staff across the Whakapapa and Tūroa ski areas. At the beginning of the season, they had 405 staff before the poor season resulted in layoffs.
After opening on July 8th, 2022, Tūroa closed early this season due to a lack of snow. Warm temperatures and rain contributed to “the worst ski season in decades.” The skifield closed “until further notice” in late August but reopened after a big snowstorm earlier this month. There has been no snow since then, and with the forecast bleak, Tūroa closed for the season on Sunday, October 9th.
- Related: Worst Ski Season in Decades for Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand: Staff Made Redundant as Ski Field Closes Temporarily
Whakapapa will continue to operate as planned, weather permitting, through to season close, estimated on October 24th, according to a Facebook post. The three T bars – Valley, Knoll, and Far West – will be running, along with the Sky Waka gondola for access and sightseeing.
RAL explored several options, including a capital raise and a request for additional Crown funding, but has not been able to secure the required level of capital. As such, the directors decided to appoint voluntary administrators. The voluntary administrators will now continue to trade the business while they look to determine the most appropriate way forward to maximize recoveries for creditors. The company owes $15 million to the Ministry for Business and Innovation (MBIE) and has a $6 million loan from ANZ bank. Other creditors include ski and snowboard company Burton Australia, Fletcher Steel, Steel & Tube, Bridgewater, and several finance companies. The company’s total debt is over $30 million.
The Voluntary Administrators will now prepare a report on the company’s financial state that will be presented to the creditors shortly.
The skifields are amongst New Zealand’s largest and were once the busiest in the country. Should they close, it would leave the North Island without a major ski area.