You might have seen it, the annual Mt Ruapehu season pass sale is on, and like last year, full credit for doing it so early. Obviously someone has 1 October marked in their calendar.
Firstly, as usual, Mt Ruapehu has some of the most competitive lift pass pricing in the country. Sure, they have weather issues, and there can be some big crowds on bluebird days, but there’s no denying it’s a good deal. And yep, the ages of “free skiing” differs from most SI fields (which for many are 10 and under, but shoot, at $99 that’s still pretty reasonable).
What’s interesting here is what is new or different this season. Prices, yep, they are up somewhat compared to last season. $449 for an adult vs $399 early bird. In general at least a minimum of a 10% increase. But still, good value right? Cardrona for 2019 was $950, and yep, they have lift queues too.
New? Student passes, we’ll wait to be corrected here, but by our reckoning they are back this season after a year off, are we right? They were introduced back in 2018 ($249) so if we’re right it’s good to see them back on the menu, albeit at a higher price ($429). New also is midweek pricing at $349. This is clever (finally) and may help shift demand which we all know can be pretty substantial on weekends. We think that’s a smart move, but will $100 be enough of an incentive? Time will tell.
The terms and benefits seem to be pretty similar and we like the fact the buddy passes have been retained, get 4 x Half Price Day Lift Passes. And while some comments have said RAL have shifted kids pricing, they haven't, check the graphic.
And if you don't currently have a pass, 2020 season passes are valid from 21 October THIS YEAR so you can ski the last week of this season for free!
One thing we find particularly interesting, is after the bad press of this season, they retained the free super senior passes, but have kept with full price tickets during the season. I reckon in the next year or two we’ll see those free passes go, and there’s an interesting debate in general as to why, and whether they should be free? We’ll keep that can of worms closed for now.
The other thing that surprises us, the mid-week skiing appears to be valid in the school holidays. Is that an oversight? Isn’t the whole idea of this sort of pass about shifting demand out of peak periods? Maybe dive in fast and buy one, just in case they change the rules …
We also like as we said earlier, RAL is completely transparent with their pricing and season dates, it will be 2020 before we see dates and pricing for many other ski areas.
Finally, ski area pricing has been the same, forever. Actually it hasn’t, with cheap season passes has come higher day pass costs. We think that there's an opportunity for new pricing models. RAL has followed some areas with mid-week pricing, that’s a great start. The technology exists now to price in very different ways. Price high on busy days to constrain numbers, price cheap on less busy days, maybe price by the run, price by weather, price even by lift maybe. Sure, more complex, but I am sure some season pass holders often feel they don’t get the value they thought they might …
What do you think? Happy, not happy? Good value, or not? Drop some comments on our Facebook post, we’d love to hear.
And don’t forget, both Turoa and Whakapapa are open to October 28, so there is tons of great spring skiing left. Check our Mt Ruapehu weather forecast or check the Whakapapa snow report or Turoa snow report directly before you go!
Buy your 2020 Mt Ruapehu Season Pass here until October 31.