Ruapehu is to receive more than $500,000 of tourism funding, it was announced on Friday at the opening of the new Whakapapa Sky Waka Gondola.

Under-secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabueteau announced Provincial Growth Fund grants totalling $550,000. The money will support the Ruapehu District Council's efforts to implement long-term sustainable growth tourism planning.

The $25m Sky Waka ('Sky Canoe') was financed in part by a $10m grant from the PGF, as well as a $9.5m donation from the Tuwharetoa Trust. It is the highest and longest gondola on the North Island