Thursday, December 9

Covid-19: Mt Ruapehu businesses do not visit Auckland


Businesses around Mt Ruapehu are losing their Auckland visitors with the supercity still at Covid-19 Alert Level 4.

In the nearby city of Ohakune, the effects of alert level restrictions were expected to hit like an avalanche, but most appear to be weathering the storm.

There was a burst of enthusiasm among those trudging around the base of the Whakapapa ski field on Mount Ruapehu, ready to hit the slopes.

But despite the crisp blue sky, only the upper parking lot had vehicles.

Alert level 2 restrictions meant that numbers were capped at 3,000 for Whakapapa and 2,500 at the Turoa ski field on the other side of the maunga.

Ruapehu Alpine Lifts COO Travis Donoghue said the shutdown could not have come at a worse time as it had a “significant impact” on the business that only operates “for four months.”

Donoghue’s was mum on the economic impact, but acknowledged that the lost weeks in August, and Auckland still at alert level 4, was challenging.

That said, given the current circumstances, I was satisfied with the figures that had been obtained during the first week of Alert Level 2.

Donoghue said there had been good demand so far and that they were working near full capacity, which was easier to handle without the Auckland crowds.

In the nearby town of Ohakune, local district councilor and business owner Janelle Hinch said moving to alert level 4 last month was difficult for many people.

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Ohakune’s local district councilor and business owner Janelle Hinch said it was hard not to have Auckland’s crowds in the city.
Photo: Supplied / Wikipedia

He knew that hosting providers went from being fully booked to empty in an instant, and they had to reimburse clients who probably wouldn’t be returning this year.

Hinch said it sounded like a “first world problem” to talk about the impact of ski closures.

“But there are so many businesses around here that that’s the lifeblood of their business.”

He said it was “the equivalent of a farmer losing his crop.”

Hinch said it was hard not to have Auckland’s crowds in the city, but noted that the supercity was making its own hard mahi at the moment.

He said the upcoming school holidays could be a hit or miss for some companies and he expected further changes to the alert level to occur before then.

Hinch was “really, really, really waiting for everyone to get vaccinated, get tested, so we can hit this thing over the head.”

“Hopefully everyone is free for the school holidays; we will have a great October.”

Local TCB Ski, Board and Bike shop owner Ben Wiggins maintained a high level of optimism, but knew he had already lost many key deals.

He said that “probably the most disturbing thing” since the end of August was “being here, in Ohakune, and looking at the mountain every day from your home, with more than 70 centimeters of fresh, dry and fluffy dust, sunshine every day” . and not being able to go up “.

But Wiggins was taking it easy, aided by the lower North Isles by doing a bit of what he called “revenge shopping.”

“Everyone comes straight out of the confinement, they say ‘we have to go do things!’ and everyone gets excited, “he said.

“We definitely saw a sharp increase in people over the weekend.”

Although it is heading towards the end of the Ruapehu ski season, the main message from the locals was for everyone in Aotearoa to keep working to eliminate Covid-19 so that more people can enjoy one last blast of winter fun.


www.rnz.co.nz

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