Skiing in Cardrona

Cardrona Ski Area

Cardrona’s ski area between 1,669m and 1,894m describes itself as “relaxed and friendly” and comprises three basins totalling 345 hectares with wide open slopes and a good natural snow record.

The excellent snow, dubbed ‘hero’ snow for its soft covering on a firm base, has helped Cardrona to attract beginners, families and intermediate skiers. And yet in contrast with its Doctor Jekyll slopes it has some unexpected Mr Hyde steeps too. Cardrona is unusual in that unlike all other New Zealand commercial ski areas it actually has some on-mountain accommodation.

Cardrona Beginner Skiing

Cardrona’s beginner friendly ski area includes nursery slopes and three magic carpets for novices and easy terrain for beginners, notably the Skyline trail with spectacular views towards Queenstown.

The MacDougall’s quad serves some of the easier terrain, in particular the languid Skyline trail which allows new skiers to drift all the way down to the bottom of the lift again – quite an achievement for a beginner – enjoying, if they dare to look up – spectacular views towards Queenstown en route. Th resort claims that the vast majority of adults who have never skied before will manage this run. The three magic carpets (one dedicated to three-and four-year-olds) illustrate Cardrona’s wish to position itself as a beginner friendly resort.

Cardrona Intermediate Skiing

Although Cardrona has a reputation for wide open easy skiing for all the family, it some pretty hair-raising slopes that only really come into play during the annual Cardrona Games when the emphasis suddenly switches to extreme. For the rest of the winter it returns to a predominantly “relaxed and friendly” persona, favouring cruisers, families and freeriders.

Cardrona Advanced & Expert Skiing

Cardrona Boarding & Freestyle

Many of New Zealand’s best freestyle skiers and snowboarders, and increasingly off-season northern hemisphere athletes, base themselves at Cardrona and the three terrain parks offer a wide range of rails and jumps, up to four halfpipes and a gravity cross course.

The Heavy Metal trail runs the length of the Whitestar Express on a purpose-built terraced course – home to the larger rails and features. The Playzone trail runs alongside upper Heavy Metal utilising smaller features.

The pipe-park – said to be the biggest in the southern hemisphere – consists of four pipes (International, Rookie, the Monster and the Johnny). The last two are built to the enlarged Superpipe dimensions, while the Rookie and International are shallower.

Usually two pipes are in operation on any given day – one used exclusively by the High Performance Centre until mid-September, and the other open for public use. The 800m Gravity Cross sculptured track below the MacDougall’s quad is made up of banked corners, jumps and rollers.

Cardrona Mountain Restaurants

Cardrona has are five cafés on the mountain, mostly places to grab a quick bite to eat and refuel at low cost rather than fine dining, but if you prefer a slightly more sophisticated menu and wine with your meal, your best bet is the Mezza Café Restaurant upstairs in the main base building.

The Base Café downstairs in the main base building serves a wide range of fast food and beverages. Beside the Base Café is the Juice and Java Bar, and upstairs is the fully-licensed Mezz Café-cum-restaurant with impressive scenery. The Noodle Bar has wide decks overlooking the slopes: you can ski right in from Skyline Ridge to select fresh vegetables along with your choice of noodles and meats cooked on the spot. On the other side of the mountain is the Captain’s Pizzeria.

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