Annoyance at long chairlift wait times at Mt Ruapehu

Heavy snowfall and good weather are drawing record numbers to Mt Ruapehu slopes.

But its rising popularity is also causing frustration, with longer waiting times for lifts that one disgruntled visitor called "horrendous".

"It's a bit hard for a farmer to stand in a queue," he told Newshub.

"I've definitely noticed in the last few years the lines have picked up," another said.

The last 'big year' for the mountain was 2008, with 440,000 trips taken to Whakapapa and nearby Turoa. By 2013, numbers had dropped significantly.

But they've started climbing again in the last few years - and numbers are already up 15 percent, with 214,000 visits so far this season.

General manager of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts Jono Dean says they're "absolutely" coping with the bigger crowds.

"Certainly from our perspective it's about trying to cater to a number of wider groups as well. We're seeing a lot more people interested in sightseeing in our national parks, so we have greater visitation from sightseers as well."

Numbers are up for several reasons. Snowfall is the best it's been in a decade, with 65cm since Friday at depths of up to 10m in some places.

The weather has also been great, with Whakapapa closed for just four days this season.

Auckland's growing population and more overseas visitors are also contributing factors.

An avalanche has closed the top section at Turoa, so more people are heading over to Whakapapa.

Regulars know to come midweek to avoid the crowds, and to beat the lines by arriving early - it's busiest late morning.

There are seven chair lifts on Whakapapa moving up to 3800 people an hour. Ruapehu Alpine Lifts says a gondola worth $25 million will be installed next year, which will almost double capacity and, they say, reduce waiting times.

"We're looking into roughly about half a million visitors by 2023 in our national parks and our lifts," Mr Dean told Newshub. "We are very confident with the infrastructure we've built that it's certainly going to cater to the numbers."

While some were annoyed with delays, everyone Newshub spoke to said the view was worth the wait.