Cardrona boasts some of the only genuine on snow accommodation in New Zealand, a small block of apartments. Apart from that Cardrona offers a bit of everything and is one of the larger resorts in the South Island. Its a great family resort with excellent ski school options for kids but plenty of more challenging terrain for parents and older kids. The 3 main bowls offer great options for snowboarders and the resort is well serviced by its lift system. Like many NZ resorts the road in can be a bit of a problem at times.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
Cardrona is located between Queenstown and Wanaka on New Zealand's South Island. The resort is 34 km from Wanaka, and 58km from Queenstown.
- Wide open rolling terrain
- Lots of snowboarders
- Family Welcome
- Great Customer Service
- Very good ski school with kid friendly instructors
- Other than the drive up, a fantastic place to introduce young kids to skiing
- Lots of snowboarders
- Dirt road up the mountain is ordinary
- Driving from the Queenstown side involves crossing another mountain road, meaning chains may be required to be fitted/unfitted twice each way.
Phone: +64 3 443 7411
Fax: +64 3 443 8818
Postal: PO Box 117, Wanaka, New Zealand
Cardrona is located off the Cardrona Valley road which links Wanaka and Queenstown.
Drive time from:
- Wanaka 35 minutes (34km). First 25km is paved and flat (Cardrona Valley road). Final 10km is a dirt road that winds up the mountain. Any significant snowfall can cause it to be closed for hours while the road is cleared.
- Queenstown 60 minutes (58km). Paved (other than the final 10km), but the first section out of Queenstown crosses a mountain ridge and so is tight and windy.
Nearest airports to Wanaka:
- Wanaka - 10km / 10 minutes (Air NZ only)
- Queenstown - 60km / 50 minutes drive
- Dunedin - 280km / 180 minutes drive
- Christchurch - 420km / 300 minutes drive
There are also daily shuttle bus services from Queenstown and Wanaka.
A few people hitch to the Cardrona turn-off or park there and then try to hitch a ride up the mountain.
15 units only so get in early! Chances are you won't get one unless you are outside of peak times, are a regular or you know someone. Everything shuts down on the mountain at the end of the ski day and almost all staff leave so you are pretty much on your own up there. As the ski staff don't live on the mountain you can't even beat the occasional road-closing blizzards as the staff can't get up to open things up and run the lifts.
Queenstown is quite a drive so Wanaka is probably your better option. Wanaka is a great option for families and those seeking a more relaxing time - a quiet friendly little town. If you want night-life and other activities then Queenstown is probably a better go.
Like most resorts, combination packages are offered with rentals and ski school.
- Adults: Single Lesson: $40/lesson, Multi day: $35/day
- Child: Single Lesson: $30/lesson, Multi day: $25/day
Must purchase a minimum 3 lessons to be elgible for multi day discount. There are also packages which include lessons, rental and lift tickets.
Can be rented (and then stored) on mountain, but also plenty of options in Wanaka and Queenstown.
Its a small base area - you walk!
There are 2 large parking lots for the 99% of skiers who are driving up to the ski area. One is at the same level as the base area so is an easy walk. The other is down a small hill which is a bit of walk, but they do have 4WD's with trailers to give you a lift to the base facilities. If its a crowded day and the parking lots are full you end up parking on the side of the road and can end up a long way away. If you have small kids I strongly recommend you get up there early so you can park at the base parking lot.
Licensed childcare and Kids Ski center, full rental, Development Centre with over 100 full-time staff, Snow shop, email center and 15 apartments right on the snow.
1 cafeteria, a Pizzeria, Noodle bar and a restaurant,
Bars & Entertainment
Alcohol is available in the restaurant. But everything starts shutting down once the lifts close - no night-time entertainment at all.
Cardrona Gift Shop - Located at base.
Licensed childcare and Kids Ski center. This is a strong suit for Cardrona, if you have kids you want to get into skiing this is a great place to do it. Their capacity is limited so you should book these programs when you book lift tickets etc. Note that the younger kids programs may include lift tickets and equipment so make sure you don't end up paying for these items twice.
Once kids hit 3 (and toilet trained) then on-snow programs are available, although you can have them in the creche up till age 5. There are a couple of on-snow programs to chose from:
- If you have very young kids (3-4 years) that you want to introduce to skiing then "Ski Korral" is a great program. Its mostly creche but includes 1 hour of 1-on-1 instruction so the kids don't get overwhelmed or overtired particularly in bad weather. They also get focused attention for that hour from very kid friendly instructors. The instructor sessions can only be reserved when you check in in the morning, so it is critical you get up there early or you will get stuck with a late afternoon session or could even miss out completely.
- If they are progressing well they can be moved up into a small group lesson that runs a bit longer "Little Rippers".
- 5-6 year olds go into the "Junior Kids Club". They spend around 4 hours in the snow with rest periods back at the centre for lunch, movies or activities and lots of hot chocolate. There are typically a good range of levels so they should be able to match your kid with a group of similar ability. New skiers are started on the magic carpet until they have a basic snowplough ("pizza") stop and turn down. They did have a more structured development program, but now they just elevate the kids from level to level (they have about 6) when the instructors think they are ready. So its pretty flexible, the kids are able to develop at a pace thats right for them.
- 7-12 year olds go into the "Senior Kids Club". Essentially the same as the Junior program, just with more time in the snow.
Small protected area for the very young kids in ski school serviced by a magic carpet. There is also a larger area for beginners serviced by a pommel; this area is quite well segregated from the main runs.
Lots of open rolling terrain, great for intermediates and cruisers. Lots of ego runs with nice fall line.
A series of rolling gullies allows for quite a few drop offs and short chutes.
Out of Bounds
Parks & Pipes
They cut up to 5 pipes here in a good year, what more do you need to know, they like their pipes!