If you’ve experienced the incredible snow conditions in Japan earlier this year, it looks like 2019 is shaping up to be one of the best years for skiers and snowboarders alike in Cardrona. With numerous powder days and heavy snowfall recorded as early in April, New Zealand’s ski resorts are gearing up for an epic season ahead! With a number of ski resorts across New Zealand, including Cardrona, opening earlier than expected, you can feel the stoke level’s way up!
Situated halfway between Wanaka and Queenstown, Cardrona’s 30 minutes away from our lodge in Wanaka. With its vast mixed-level freeride terrain and extensive freestyle area, Cardrona has something for everyone.
Here are some highlights of why Cardrona is one of our favourite resorts down under.
A whopping 345 hectares of skiable terrain
Being one of the South Island’s most popular and largest ski resorts, Cardrona or cardies, is often the resort of choice for regional and worldwide events. You won’t find tree runs in Cardrona, but the Southern Alps have something else in store for you. For Japan regulars, Cardrona’s longer runs and the steeper terrain is definitely a step up from the smaller mountains of Japan, not to mention the world-class freestyle parks!
If you’re new to the ski resorts in New Zealand, keep in mind that the legend is slightly different here:
Green – Beginner
Blue – Intermediate (the equivalent of Japan’s red runs)
Red – High intermediate (the equivalent of Japan’s steeper red & black runs)
Black – Expert (the equivalent to Japan’s double black runs and off-piste areas)
Extensive Freeride Runs
Three main bowls for different levels of freeriding
Cardrona’s terrain is made up of 3 main bowls: Footrot Flats, Valley View and Captain’s. These are wide, open areas serviced by a total of 7 lifts and conveniently spaced out for beginners with flatter slopes (Footrot Flats), intermediates with gradual inclines (Captain’s) and high-intermediate to advanced riders with steeper runs and drops (Valley View).
Cardrona’s Chondola (Chairlift + Gondola, get it? no, we didn’t make this up) makes the nex step easy for beginners & first-timers who want to progress from the bunny slopes. If you’re uncomfortable with chairlifts, the Chondola takes you all the way up to Vista Bar, after which you can drop into Skyline, Footrot Flats or even Lil Bucks park to try a box feature or 2.
With half of its freeride terrain suitable for the intermediate level, Cardrona’s wide open runs give you space to finetune your carving skills. Blue runs give high-beginner to intermediate riders a level in between that’s comfortable to cruise on while high intermediates can go for red runs to challenge your skills with steeper terrain. For the advanced riders, Arcadia Chutes & Secret Chutes have natural kickers and drops alongside the occasional powder stashes comparable to those in Niseko!
Freestyle Terrain Parks
The most extensive terrain park in New Zealand
If freestyle is your thing, Cardrona Parks boasts 5 freestyle parks, each with features to challenge & delight beginners & pros alike. Here’s what to expect in its freestyle terrain:
Lil’ Bucks – for the beginners eager to try out small features such as boxes
Antler’s Alley – for the intermediates looking for jibs and jumps, with boxes & rails
Stag Line – the most extensive of the 5 parks with over 15 features for jibs, kickers, rails & wall rides
Big Bucks – where the pros spend their day in Cardrona: the XL Triple Line
Well’s Platter – home of the Olympic Superpipe and Halfpipe, join the big boys and take things up a notch from Big Bucks will ya?
Park rats, you are in for a treat.
8 dining options to choose from
Besides its incredible runs and terrain parks, Cardrona delights with its range of food options to suit every taste and budget. With 8 cafés, restaurants and lounges to choose from, you don’t even have to make your way down to base to grab lunch as there are cafés on the slopes to get your mid-run refuel.
Brand new this season is the Vista Bar at the top of the Chondola! This is the perfect spot to take in the views with a cuppa in hand. If you’re looking for a quiet space to unwind, head over to the coworking space on the 2nd level of The Lounge. For sandwiches/ light meals, the newly revamped Base Café is perfect for a quick refuel in between runs. Asian grub’s also available at the Noodle Bar; we love their katsu-don! For you picky Singaporean eaters, stay away from their Laksa and Fried Rice if you don’t want to ruin your day with a sub-par meal.
With weather of -5 degrees up on the mountain, the Mezz Bar’s alfresco area is our go-to spot for apres-ski beers with the crew. Take in the sunshine and get some people watchin’ done here.
Pro Tip: for first-timers and/or beginners, we do not recommend hopping around New Zealand’s ski resorts as you’d spend more time on the road than actually experiencing what each resort has to offer! Beginner areas are about the same everywhere & the terrain only gets interesting when you progress higher up the moutain. You’d save time & effort not having to orientate yourself at a new resort every day. Spending 2-3 days at 1 resort will help you to progress as you gain confidence & get familiar with the terrain.