Avalanche-damaged Ruapehu chairlift could take months to repair

A chairlift may have been damaged so badly in the avalanche on Mt Ruapehu that it could take months to repair.

The "significant" avalanche was triggered at about 8:30am on Monday, closing the upper mountain ski areas.

Ross Copland, chief executive of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL), says engineers have confirmed that the High Noon Express chairlift was damaged in the avalanche, and Tower 15 would need to be replaced.

The chairlift will be inoperable for at least week, and could be out of action for longer if the haul rope has also been damaged.

Mr Copland told Newshub the engineers won't be able to inspect the rope for damage until the machinery is disassembled on Thursday. Rope specialists will also be arriving then.

While it's possible to replace individual rope strands with parts from New Zealand, if the haul rope is too badly damaged, a new rope will have to be imported from Europe.

Mr Copland says that could take months.

There are seven other chairlifts on the Turoa skifield, meaning much of that side of the mountain will still be accessible for the remainder of the season.


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