Cardrona (New Zealand)

Ski Resort Review, Information and Guide

Cardrona ski base and mountain

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Cardrona NZ
Mountain Summary:

Base: 5,479 ft

1670 m
Summit: 6,102 ft

1860 m
Vertical: 1,968 ft

600 m
Ski Area: 988 acres

400 hectares
Trails: 36
Terrain parks: 5
Snowfall: 114"

2.9 m

Lifts:

Lifts: 18
Gondolas: 1
Quad Chairs: 3
Surface Lifts: 4

Runs/trails:

Beginner: 25%
Intermediate: 25%
Advanced: 30%
Expert: 20%

Daily Report:

Status:closed

 

Currency:NZD

Resort Services:

  • ski rental
  • ski instruction
  • food
  • ski Concierge
  • ski shop

Trail Map:

Cardrona NZ:
° Weather Forecast

Virtual Tours:

Cardrona New Zealand thumb
Cardrona mountain base

Cardrona New Zealand thumb
Cardrona mountain peak

Cardrona Description:

Cardrona ski resort is an hour and a half drive from the lakeside town of Queenstown New Zealand. It is one of four ski resorts within the proximity of Queenstown and just like the other ski resorts, Cardrona has a base lodge but no local town so most people will find their accommodations and nightlife in Queenstown. Queenstown is the New Zealand epicenter for outdoors activities.

New Zealand lies in the Southern hemisphere and thus has seasons which are the opposite of the Northern hemisphere. Cardrona's ski season is from the beginning of June till the end of October. Queenstown is much lower in elevation than the alpine resort and thus has comparatively mild temperatures.

New Zealand is made up of mountains which can be categorized as geologically new with steep and rugged terrain. While Cardrona has beginner terrain, the slopes favor the intermediate to expert skiers. Th Cardrona base lodge has all of the amenities required for a day trip to the slopes. It also has enough terrain to explore to keep the curious busy for a day or two.

Queenstown Western shore

Queenstown Western lake shore

Cardrona Terrain:

The entire Cardrona ski resort lies above the tree line with wide open terrain. The lifts at the base lodge serve beginner runs and the terrain park. For those wanting to explore the mountain, the gondola takes one to the peak to ski elsewhere. The terrain is also very open and visible with few surprises. There is a wonderful short hike from the top of "McDougall's Chondola" to higher terrain which had clean lines and more powder. Advanced skiers should also consider the Arcadia Chutes and the in-bounds terrain off of Secret Bowl. Snow conditions will be the ultimate factor in deciding what terrain to ski.

New Zealand resorts use the European color codes to rate trails:
  • Green: beginner
  • Blue: intermediate
  • Red: advanced
  • Black: Expert

The vast majority of runs at Cardrona are marked blue and red.

View of Cardrona slopes

A view of the slopes of Cardrona looking back at the main lodge. Runs are wide open.

Beginners and Intermediates:

The easiest beginner run is the short run serviced by "magic carpet" lifts at the base of the mountain. The rest of the beginner runs seem to run through the terrain park services by the gondola. The prominent green run "Comeback Trail" in the middle of the trail map is only accessible from an intermediate run and thus is not an option for many beginners.

Magic carpet lift and beginner run

Beginner run and the covered "Magic Carpet" surface lift. Clearly the safest option for beginners

Beginner run: Footrot Flats

Beginner run: Footrot Flats (along side the terrain park) leading back to the base lodge

While there are intermediate runs through the terrain park, accessible from the "McDougall's Chondola" and "Whitestar Express" quad, take a right at the top to the regular intermediate runs which can be found on the right hand side of the trail map and serviced by the "Captain's Express" quad lift. Here you will find a variety of wide runs unencumbered by terrain park features.

Advanced Ski Terrain:

The challenging runs are the adjacent off trail routes through rock formations such as the Arcadia Chutes or achieved by hiking to higher terrain. The short hike from the top of the gondola leads to a scenic peak with a view of both sides of the mountain: an inbound view of Cardrona and a view of Queenstown off in the distance from the backside of the mountain.

Chutes and Couloirs:

The hike to the peak of Cardrona: access from the top of the "McDougall's Chondola" Gondola lift. Take a left off of the top of the lift, then hike the ridge line. Be sure to take some time to enjoy the 360 degree view with Queenstown off to the distant left and the Cardrona ski resort to your right.

Part one of the hike to the peak of Cardrona

Hike to the peak of Cardrona from the top of the gondola

Part two of the hike to the peak of Cardrona

Continue hiking along the ridge line till you get to the top or a fall line that suits you

Part three: ski the chutes

If steep gnarly chutes suit you, hike to the very top. Some entrances can be corniced and above one's level of expertise. Choose an appropriate entrance to suit your skill level.

Note that in bounds skiing is to the resort side of the mountain divide. The other direction shows the view towards Queenstown but does not lead to the resort or to any ski lifts. See it all in this 360 spherical panoramic view from the peak of Cardrona.

Arcadia Chutes: take the Whitestar Express Quad and head right at the top to the run "Upper Goldrush". Take this run down and look for main drop-in to Arcadia on your left. There are lots of secondary chutes. Be sure to study the area before trying alternate routes. The Arcadia chutes have two sections, an upper and lower section, divided by the "Arcadia Valley" run. Once you ski the upper Arcadia chutes and reach "Arcadia Valley" run, look for an entrance gate for the lower chutes.

Entrance to Arcadia Chutes

Look for the entrance to Arcadia Chutes from the run "Upper Goldrush"

Top of Arcadia Chutes

Top of Arcadia Chutes

Looking up at Arcadia Chutes

Looking up at Arcadia Chutes

Looking up at Arcadia Chutes

Looking up at Arcadia Chutes and an improvised jump

Looking down at Arcadia Valley run

Looking down at "Arcadia Valley" run and the entrances to Arcadia Chutes to the skier's left.

Looking up at lower Arcadia Chutes

Looking up at the lower Arcadia Chutes

Moguls:

Mush of the resort is either groomed or did not have enough snow and traffic to generate moguls and there was no area set aside and dedicated to the formation of moguls.

Tree Skiing:

The entire resort is above the tree line, thus there is no tree skiing.

Out of Bounds Skiing:

There is a fair amount of side-country terrain accessible through gates 1, 2 and 3. The terrain is accessible but the return is not marked or intuitive or necessarily down hill. In other words, you may have a nasty hike out. Don't ski it alone and take precautions. Guided heli-ski operators are also available in the region as an even better option.

Cardrona Terrain Parks:

Cardrona has a significant amount of terrain dedicated to terrain parks and it is all located above the main lodge, accessible from the "McDougall's Chondola" gondola. There is a vast array of jumps and rails as well as a half pipe. The terrain parks are assigned a size to help one determine the level of difficulty.

  • Big Bucks (XL)
  • Big Air (XL)
  • Stag Lane (ML)
  • Antlers Way (ML)
  • Lil' Bucks (S)
The location of each is marked on the trail map
Cardrona Terrain Park

The terrain park is comprised of rails, tubes, table tops and jumps for all skill levels.

Cardrona Terrain park

Lots of options

Cardrona Terrain park large jump

Jumps come in all sizes including Extra Large

Village & Shopping:

The mountain base facilities include a rentals shop, repair shop, store and dining facilities with all of the basic amenities to support your day. One should look to nearby Queenstown for anything more. The base clears out not long after the lifts close.

English is the dominant language in New Zealand with spotty support for other languages. There is ample acceptance of Visa and Mastercard as well as for Automated Teller Machines to access cash.

Cardrona retail shop

Retail shop at the base of Cardrona

Inside the retail shop at the base of Cardrona

Inside the retail shop at the base of Cardrona

Links:

Next: Cardrona New Zealand Apres Ski, Dining and Nightlife

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