A new parking system to ease overcrowding on Mt Ruapehu has prompted more uproar than support.
As the ski season officially got under way last week, Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) announced a new book ahead parking system for people wishing to visit both the Whakapapa and Tūroa ski fields.
Chief executive Jono Dean said the new parking system aimed to put an end to those frustrating queues and being turned around at the last minute.
“We’ve listened to the frustrations about queueing for parking and general volumes of visitors to the ski areas, and we’ve come up with what we believe is a good solution that will ensure fair and equitable parking for everyone,” he said.
But some season pass holders did not agree with the new car parking system and a petition – which has already gathered 4024 signatures of the 5000 goal as of Tuesday – was set up last week to stop the new change.
The main concerns centre on whether people will be penalised if they book, but don’t turn up, not being able to drop people off, people who overbook, and not being able to visit both ski fields in the one day.
“As a local, I won’t even bother,” Jo Jo Palmer, said.
A family from Tauranga regularly visits the mountain but said if they’d known about the new parking system earlier, they would not have bought a family season pass.
“We are very upset around the lack of consultation with their carpark booking system,” Janine Bollee said.
“They have not been transparent in their intentions prior to purchasing our passes in October. There are a lot of unhappy people.”
The backlash prompted RAL to delay the launch of the new carpark booking system, which works by scanning number plates of those who have booked ahead.
“Since the initial announcement of the car parking booking system we’ve had a lot of constructive feedback from mountain users and, as a result, we’ve made a few changes,” Dean said.
“These include that the booking system will operate for the busiest 10 of the 17 weekends the mountain is open, not the entire season.
“We’ve also delayed its start, so we could efficiently deal with people who ‘no show’. They will be sent an alert to say they are late and if they don’t arrive as per their updated ETA, the car park will be released back into the availability pool.”
Dean confirmed people can only book at one ski field as the system will only accept one registration and, also confirmed drop-offs are possible.
The free car park booking system will be available from Wednesday, July 22.
Bookings won’t be needed for these current school holidays.