PGF supports Sky Waka Gondola at Whakapapa to completion

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has supported the Whanganui Manawatū region to diversify its economy with a significant contribution to the Sky Waka Gondola at Whakapapa, Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced at its official grand opening this evening.

In conjunction with Tuwharetoa Trust who are contributing $9.5 million, and others, the PGF has contributed $10 million to the $25 million project in the form of a loan to enable this key piece of tourism infrastructure to be realised.

“The Sky Waka is one of a kind in New Zealand and is the highest value PGF project completed to date in the region,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

“This vital piece of infrastructure will not only dramatically reduce the number of closed days at Whakapapa ski area for skiing because of its stable performance in high winds and alpine weather, but will also open Mt Ruapehu to all year round tourism providing access to New Zealand’s highest restaurant, and to a range of walking tracks on Mt Ruapehu,” Mr Tabuteau said.

“It’s anticipated this project will boost tourism across the central North Island by 500,000 people annually by 2025 and forecast to double regional tourism income to $400 million a year by 2028.

“With such high visitor numbers, not only will there be more jobs on the ski field, but the flow on effect will mean more local jobs will be created for local people.

“The aim of the PGF is to lift the productivity potential of regional New Zealand by empowering communities and enabling regions’ access to sustainable economic development. 

Under Secretary Tabuteau also announced two PGF grants totalling $525,000 (plus a $25,000 contribution from the Department of Conservation) to support the Ruapehu District Council in undergoing vital long-term planning to foster sustainable tourism growth.

“Today is about celebrating the PGF and this Government’s dedication to the regions. Projects such as the Sky Waka have been made possible by engaging stakeholders and supporting them to plan and execute a long-term vision for the area – to ensure our communities thrive through sustainable tourism growth and infrastructure,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

“I am proud of our work in realising the potential of the regions and supporting the projects announced today that will lift the Manawatū/Whanganui region.”

Notes to editors

The Under Secretary will formally celebrate the opening of the Sky Waka Gondola and acknowledge the PGF contribution to this project at Knoll Ridge Chalet, Whakapapa at 7.45pm.

The $525,000 in PGF grants to the Ruapehu District Council (RDC), support governance and a regional visitor plan project to support long-term infrastructure planning.  This includes $225,000 (plus a $25,000 contribution from the Department of Conservation) to RDC in the co-ordination and delivery of a spatial plan for tourism pathway infrastructure in the Ruapehu/Tongariro national park and $300,000 over two years to support governance arrangements to drive the project and support iconic tourism developments.