Cardrona’s Adaptive Snowsports Coordinator nominated for Community Spirit Award

Jane Stevens and Adaptive Programme

Jane Stevens and Cardrona’s Adaptive Volunteers. Pic: Rachel Milner

If you’ve spent time at Cardrona chances are you will have noticed that there is a strong emphasis on winter athlete development including an extensive adaptive ski and snowboarding programme. In conjunction with Snow Sports NZ, Cardrona provides experiences for people with disabilities who are being introduced to snow for the first time, through to training for Paralympians.

At the forefront of the programme is our Adaptive Coordinator, the legend, Jane Stevens. Jane has been involved in adaptive snow sports for almost 30 years and knows how to adapt a lesson, equipment and support systems to teach anyone with a disability. As Jane described to NZ Herald reporter Eva Corlett, it makes no difference what a person’s disability is, “whether it’s physical, sensory or intellectual”, if someone wants to go skiing or snowboarding then she can make it happen.

In recognition of her huge commitment to the sport, Jane Stevens has been nominated for a Pride of New Zealand Award in the Community Spirit category. The award recognises those whose selfless, tireless and largely unacknowledged actions have enriched the lives of those around them in their community.


Jane Stevens at Cardrona

It’s easy to see why Jane has received this nomination when you go through her long list of experience and achievements. She has been involved on many different levels, helping ‘first timers’, as well as training Paralympians, notably the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics Men’s Slalom Gold Medalist Adam Hall.

She describes a time early on in Adam Hall’s career to the NZ Herald, “I remember a day at Mt Dobson – and he was pretty young at this stage – I said, ‘Well, if you want a Paralympic medal in skiing, you’ll have to learn’. So we went into a shop, pulled these old skis out and drilled holes in them. It was all hit-and-miss, really.

“We went up to the mountain and it was a powder day, which wasn’t conducive to learning to ski, and we gave it the best we had, trying to figure out how we were going to do it … and then he turns around and wins a gold medal.”

Jane has also been involved with training 2014 Sochi Paralympic Silver Medalist Corey Peters, NZ’s only medalist at the last Winter Paralympic Games.

But it’s not all about the high profile athletes for Jane. A large part of her work involves helping people enjoy snow sports with their families. “When you get to see kids get out on snow, who perhaps have a visual impairment, and we get them having fun alongside their brothers and sisters, mums and dads, it’s amazing.”

“For me it’s trying to see the whole picture come together and making sure you support every skier, from beginner right through to those who are representing their country.”

The nominees for the Pride of New Zealand awards go before a regional judging panel who will select three finalists per category. Once the 24 regional award winners have been named in August, the public will be able to vote for their TSB Bank People’s Choice winner. The winner of this special award will also be revealed at the national award ceremony in September.

Please join us in supporting Jane Stevens’ nomination. Watch this space on details on how to vote in August, well done Jane!

To see the full NZ Herald article click here.

‘Big Friday’ at Cardrona

Big Friday at CardronaAfter over a metre of snow fell on our upper mountain, the clouds cleared to reveal the first amazing powder day of the 2015 season! ‘Big Friday’ will be remembered for bringing countless deep powder turns to happy skiers and snowboarders after a crazy snow dump! While the storm produced quite heavy snow, it was the ideal outcome for setting up a large base for more terrain to become available in the early stages of the season.

A burly weather system approached the South Island of New Zealand on Thursday which brought snow to low levels in the region. Cardrona, like many of the local schools and businesses were closed due to the severe weather warnings and blizzard conditions. After a day of heavy snow fall the Cardrona operations team were up in the wee hours of ‘Big Friday’ to clear the road and lift stations. Groomers don’t usually find their way to the access road, but this morning was an exception! Our new groomers helped the road crew to clear the mass amounts of snow from the road and Cardrona was open by 9.40am, much to the delight of powder-hungry skiers and snowboarders! 

When put together, blue skies, calm conditions and deep powder are the perfect ingredients for an absolutely amazing day on the mountain! Around mid morning, a line of eager skiers and snowboarders waited at the gate to Shaun’s Way for Captains and Arcadia Basins to open. The race for first chair at Captains was highly contested with the front-runners cutting some untracked lines all the way to the lift station.

An abundance of hoots and ‘yeewwws’ were heard all day around Cardrona, the superb snow conditions making it easy to keep everyone stoked for a memorable day. Cardrona now look to open Valley View Quad Chairlift soon after the massive dump which will offer 600 metres of thigh burning vertical! ‘Big Friday’ is ironically the historical day that Cardrona holds its Opening Day. It’s a day that will be hard to forget, even after winter 2015 is over…although there’s still A LOT of the season left for another! See you up here :) 

Cardrona Opens this Saturday!

imagejpeg_2 (1)

Last week at Cardrona. Pic: Ewan Mackie

After an amazing run of pre-season snowfalls and ideal snow making conditions, Cardrona is planning to fire up at least three of our four quad lifts for Opening Day. The season begins this Saturday (13th June), one week earlier than previous seasons.

Our operations team is looking to push the button on McDougall’s, Whitestar and Captain’s lifts and three Learner Conveyors for the first day of the winter season (if Mother Nature allows us on the day!). In addition, our grooming and snow making teams are busy preparing more terrain for opening early in the season, which could see all lifts operational in record time.

New Terrain & Surface Lift

Also available during the early stages of the season will be a range of new features for all skiers and snowboarders to enjoy, from beginner to advanced. A new learner conveyor has been constructed which runs parallel to the existing conveyor to help decrease lift queues and give first timers more mileage on the slopes!  

For those wanting to tear up (or cruise along!) Cardrona’s pristine corduroy, we have another intermediate trail along the ridge line connecting Valley View and Tail Race trails. This will provide 10 extra hectares of on-piste terrain and make it much easier to access terrain off the Valley View Quad lift.

New Freestyle Features

The beginner terrain park Lil’ Bucks has been moved to the skier’s left side of McDougall’s chairlift to give beginner freestylers more space and a larger variety of features. Shaping and grooming is underway in all four terrain parks and our Terrain Park Team Leader, Heath Richmond reports: “It’s looking like one of the best openings we’ve ever had. We’re looking at Lil’ Bucks and Stag Lane being open, as a well as a jump in Big Bucks.”


Last weekend at Cardrona. Pic: @gusswood

Meanwhile, our Ski & Snowboard School, café and ticketing staff are busy completing core/technical skills training to get ready for the season. We have another exciting bunch of staff along with a huge bunch of returners to guarantee you an epic time up at Cardrona! 

We look forward to seeing you on the snow from Saturday for another fantastic season of skiing and snowboarding!

Words: Karen Melville-Ives

3 Day Polar Season Pass Sale

New Cardrona Groomers. Pic-Simon Darby

New Groomers at Cardrona. Pic: Simon Darby

Superb early season snow conditions including a massive pre-season snow dump, have enabled the Cardrona operations team to ramp up preparations and we are excited to confirm we will open on Saturday, 13th June. Not only is this one week earlier than previous seasons, it is likely that more terrain and lifts than anticipated with be available to guests on Opening Day, including McDougall’s, Whitestar and Captain’s Quad Chairlifts!

3 Day Polar Season Pass Sale

To celebrate the fantastic start to the 2015 winter season, Cardrona will offer discounted Season Pass options for a 3 day period starting Wednesday 3rd June and ending at midnight on Friday 5th June. The discounted passes are only available online (click BUY NOW below) and for Adults (18 years and over)

The Polar Season Pass Sale will offer skiers and snowboarders a final opportunity to pick up a discounted Saver or Unlimited Season Pass. The Saver Pass can be used any day of the 2015 season except during the school holiday period (29th June – 19th July) and the ‘Unlimited’ Season Pass can be used on absolutely any day of the 2015 season. Cardrona has the longest scheduled winter season in the South Island.

*only available online, terms and conditions apply.

Saver Season Pass                Unlimited Season Pass
Adult: $849                               Adult: $1,049

Cardrona Buy Now Button

Epic Early Season Conditions

The decision to make discounted season passes available again was spurred from exceptional early season snow conditions, and to give those who missed out an opportunity to take full advantage of what is looking like a bumper 2015 winter season.

Cardrona will open on 13th June 2015

Cardrona is opening soon! Pic taken last Monday by John Melville

“Now that we know that there is going to be some epic early season riding we thought it would be only fair to celebrate with one more preseason season pass deal. This pass is especially for those people who may have missed out or wanted to wait and see what the winter was going to shape up like” says General Manager Bridget Legnavsky.

Increased operational efficiency brought about by the new innovative ‘SnowSat’ GPS fleet management system, along with a long run of ideal snowmaking conditions, have helped open up additional early season terrain. 

Weather patterns and freezing levels leading up to the 13th of June will determine which facilities will be confirmed as operational on Opening Day. Be sure to keep up to date by checking out our Facebook and Twitter pages.


Massive pre-season dump hits Cardrona

snow drifts in may 15

Snow drifts outside our rentals building. Pic: Geoff Wayatt

Dubbed a ‘polar rodent’ by weather commentators, this week’s massive pre-season snow storm was met much more eagerly by Southern Alps ski field operators and snow sports enthusiasts!

With an average snow base of 40cm on the upper mountain and 30cm on the lower mountain, including some enormous snow drifts, Cardrona is now in great shape for opening in just over two weeks.

The snow fell heavily at Cardrona from Sunday morning until Monday evening and left a thick white blanket on the mountains, as well as 10-15cm in the nearby townships of Wanaka and Queenstown.

Icy and snowy conditions meant that the Queenstown Airport and many roads in the lower South Island were closed for much of Monday. Schools in the Wanaka and Queenstown area were also unable to open and local kids took advantage of the ‘snow day’, creating their own fun. Mini terrain parks were constructed, snowmen built and many snowballs thrown!

Wanaka snow day for kids

Cardrona Grom Team Rider Campbell Melville-Ives throws a method in Wanaka. Pic: Karen Melville-Ives

While the heavy snowfall and massive snow drifts of up to 3 metres have made conditions tough on the mountain for our operations team. They have been working day and night, clearing snow from the base buildings, digging out machinery and grooming the slopes so that we can open with a bang on the June 13!

Cardrona’s four new Pisten Bully snow groomers have been kept busy constructing trails, building terrain features, and even clearing the access road! The recently installed GPS snow & fleet management ‘Snow Sat’ system is already proving extremely useful with grooming staff able to manage and monitor snow conditions and slope quality more efficiently.

Cardrona General Manager, Bridget Legnasky is excited for opening day in two weeks. Taken 28.05.15

Cardrona General Manager Bridget Legnavsky can’t wait for Opening Day! Pic: Geoff Wayatt

In addition to the natural snow fall, temperatures have stayed low and conditions have been ideal for snow making all week. The beginner’s slope is looking good to go for opening day and we will push to open other facilities as snowfall allows.  We’ll let you know exactly what lifts we plan to open in the first week of the season so be sure to keep an eye open on our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates!

See you soon for Winter 2015!!

Words by Karen Melville Ives



Snowmaking Begins as New Groomers Arrive!

The recent snow fall has seen around 30cm accumulate in the base area at Cardrona!  The team started snowmaking on Monday 18th May with over 800,000 litres of water to kick things off. Temperatures in the forecast are looking good for further snowmaking this week to keep the base we’ve been forming and with just over 3 weeks until Opening Day we are chomping at the bit to get winter underway! 

Operations Team with new groomers

Cardrona’s approximately 2 million dollar investment has arrived in the form of four new Kassbohrer Pisten Bully Groomers. The new groomers are equipped with an integrated GPS snow and fleet management ‘Snow Sat’ system. Cardrona will be the only ski area in the Southern Hemisphere to use the innovative system which will provide:

Cardrona's new Snow Sat System• Premium slope quality.

• More environmentally friendly operating from reducing fuel consumption by 8% and operating time by 5%.

• A 15% reduction in the need to make snow.

• Improved slope management technology and snow depth measurement for increased accuracy in guest communications relating to snow base depth.

Erik Barnes, Cardrona’s Manager of Infrastructure and Operations commented about the innovative system, saying “This technology is a game changer for NZ skiing. We will be able to better manage our snow coverage to give our guests that perfect day out on the mountains. We were looking for ways to become more sustainable in our operations and reduce our impact on the environment while providing better quality snow. The new groomers and SnowSat system will reduce our need for snowmaking and provide us with the ability to create that perfect base and surface.”

Cardrona's new magic carpetCardrona have an exciting range of new improvements for the 2015 winter season to entertain all levels of skiers and snowboarders. For the beginners, a new learner conveyor has been constructed which runs parallel to the existing conveyor to help decrease lift queues. The beginner terrain park ‘Lil Bucks’ has been moved to the skiers left side of McDougall’s chairlift to give beginner freestylers more space and a larger variety of features which completes Cardrona’s terrain park offering that caters to first-timers, through to world class athletes. The move will also increase the available space for beginners down McDougall’s green run. Now, more than ever, Cardrona is perfect for those new to snow! 

Corduroy at CardronaThe groomers have been on snow packing down trails in preparations for opening day in just over 3 weeks (yeewww!). Cardrona’s trail network now includes a new intermediate trail along the ridge line connecting Valley View and Tail Race trails. This will provide 10 extra hectares of on-piste terrain and make it considerably easier to access terrain off the Valley View Quad lift. Several main trails have been widened over summer to give even more space to beginner/intermediate skiers and snowboarders this season.

Earthworks have also been underway in the 22ft Olympic Halfpipe to make the transition from each wall longer and to make the pipe easier to maintain. Cardrona’s terrain park crew have over 50 years combined experience and have a new addition to the park groomer crew: X Games and Winter Olympic Halfpipe builder John Melville. John has over 15 years’ experience building and maintaining features which will significantly contribute to upholding Cardrona’s world class terrain park facilities. Cardrona will continue to provide high quality freestyle facilities for not only everyday guests, but for large events such as the Audi Quattro Winter Games, The Northface NZ Freeski Open and the Cardrona Junior Nationals.

Cardrona is scheduled to open on Saturday June 13. The first week of the season will see limited beginner’s terrain on offer with additional terrain opening as snowfall allows. Cardrona will open more facilities in the initial opening week if snowfall allows.

Three weeks and counting!!

new roomer    New Groomer along Skyline

Cardrona Mega Avalanche Recap

The snow still lingering on the ground from the wintery blast earlier in the week didn’t deter a group of 50 determined downhillers from lining up for the Cardrona Mega Avalanche mountain bike race on Sunday (April 19). The course was relocated from Captain’s Basin to Skyline Ridge, to take riders down a less snowy, but no less challenging path. Watch the course preview video here:

The line-up saw a good mix of both sponsored riders and those newer to the sport. The ‘hare’ category (fastest rider wins) included local downhill legends, Reon Boe and Connor McFarlane as well as Swiss professional snowboarder and mountain biker, Alba Wunderlin. The ‘turtle’ category was for those wanting to ride at a more relaxed pace and included a variety of ages and abilities, the youngest being nine year old Gustav Legnavsky.

As per Mega Avalanche tradition, the race started with an open section where riders tussled for position before descending into the single track. Reon Boe and Mike Davis led the charge down the first single track section ‘Morning Glory’. Although the positioning in the first open section usually dictates the final outcome, there were opportunities to overtake along the way, especially if you were prepared to fight for it…as proved by Connor McFarlane.

Connor was the first through the finish line with a time of 16 minutes, 19 seconds and explained his strategy to ONE News: “Be the fastest people into the single track or else it’s game over. Get your elbows out, try to make your mates crash!”

The snow melt added a muddy element to the already demanding course but the riders were up to the challenge, enjoying a mixture of gravel, mud, snow, single track, goat tracks, berms, rhythm sections and river crossings.
Mega Avalanche first corner showing Mons rider Connor McFarlane #232 P: Mons Royale     morning glory
Connor said about the course: “It was actually sick… heaps of single track that we hardly ever get in a Mega so it was awesome. So then we went into some flat out bombing of the hills with rocks and tussocks and ruts and then flat out into the paddocks in the bottom. It was a real good mix of everything and pedaling to hurt the lungs.”

Alba Wunderlin, who had slept in her car the night before the race so she could get an early start, was the first female rider through the finish gates with a time of 19 minutes and 17 seconds.

The euphoria of finishing the race was heightened as the competitors rode into a packed stadium at the Repco Race to the Sky Arena and into the motorsport start line. $5000 in cash and spot prizes was awarded in the arena. See full results here.
finish line    Winner men's Connor McFarlane. P: Mons Royale

Women's winner Alba Wunderlin.    Youngest competitor, nine year old Gustav Legnasky
The turtle division turned out to be profitable for the riders who found ‘gold nuggets’ along the way down the trail. Spot prizes of merino clothing, backpacks, protective clothing and headwear were awarded to those with the special rocks.

Thanks to our presentation sponsor Outside Sports and additional sponsors Altitude Brewing, Smith Optics, Foxhead, Race Face, Mons Royale and Highlands Motorsport Park for helping make the first Cardrona Mega Avalanche such a memorable event. See you next year!


Pre-season Wintery Blast hits Cardrona!

With less than two months until opening day, the first snow storm of the 2015 Winter Season hit the hilltops and Cardrona turned from golden brown to wintry white in a matter of hours.

Last Saturday April 11 shows a typical autumn day, clear with just a little chill in the air and the Cardrona Bike Park was all go.  24 hours later and Cardrona had a very different look!
autumn at bike park 12.04.15 webcam cropped
By April 13, the snow had built up.  It’s pretty rare to see snow drifts like this in April. Could this be a sign of good things to come?

snow drifts in april 15
Cardrona’s resident snowman, Frostie, looked pretty excited!

courtyard snow in april 15
The Cardrona base buildings: looks more like July than April!
ticket office snow in april
The large accumulations caught some of Bike Park staff by surprise
staff van in april snow
Ski Patrol in April, that’s a first!
Everything is frozen!
Need some serious sun before this thing will be carrying bikes again.

If these wintry white images have got you craving the snowy slopes, thinking about carving down the wide open groomers or dropping rocks into the powder, make your dreams a reality and get your season pass before April 30 to save up to $500!


With the longest scheduled winter season in the South Island (June 13 to October 11) Cardrona Season Passes offer more value than ever. Could this recent weather be a positive sign for our extended winter season?

Cardrona Mini Avalanche scheduled Saturday April 18

IMPORTANT UPDATE 16.04.15: Due to the pre-season wintery blast that hit Cardrona earlier this week  we have been forced to close the Cardrona Bike Park and unfortunately the Mini Avalanche has been cancelled.  The Mega Avalanche will still run as scheduled on Sunday April 19. More details here.

For young riders wanting a piece of the downhill mountain bike race action, be sure to sign up for the Cardrona Mini Avalanche on Saturday 18th April (the day before the Cardrona Mega Avalanche)! Great prizes will be up for grabs!

The Mini Avalanche is suitable for riders of beginner-intermediate level with some mountain biking experience. The course will be down the green (easy) Afternoon Delight trail that runs along the Skyline Ridge. Spectators and parents will be able to watch the action from the Skyline Ridge. 


  • Race starts at the top of White Star chairlift at 1pm.
  • Entry is FREE with a lift pass ($40 per child).
  • Register on the day before 11am at Cardrona Bike Park ticket office.
  • Two age divisions: 10 & under and 16 & under.
  • Helmets are compulsory.
  • Gloves and protective clothing (such as knee guards) are recommended.

The Bike Park opens at 10am so we suggest you take a couple of runs down the course before the race.  In the meantime, take a virtual ride on Afternoon Delight to get yourself pumped…

For the more extreme downhillers, we have the 1330 vertical metre Cardrona Mega Avalanche on the following day, Sunday April 19. The Mega Avalanche is a downhill mountain bike event that mixes gravity assisted excitement with endurance levels of fitness. The 10km course is a mix of open gravel trails, twisty single tracks, steep descents and narrow technical switchbacks. The race finishes in spectacular style in the Race to the Sky Village, in the Cardrona Valley. $5000 worth of cash and spot prizes will be awarded.





Highlights from Easter Weekend at Cardrona Bike Park

Easter Weekend saw the reopening of the Cardrona Bike Park. With new beginner, intermediate and advanced trails open, as well as our very first Easter Egg Hunt, the weekend was a blast for families and hard-core down-hillers alike!

Autumn is well underway and the hills have taken on a golden tone. The weather has been favourable – and decidedly warm at times – making for epic autumn alpine riding.

jody b 2New trails

The new trails have been a hit! The beginner trail running along the Skyline Ridge, Afternoon Delight, lives up to its name delighting those wanting a mellow, meandering ride. Grasshopper is a short, snappy intermediate run underneath the White Star chairlift and features some technical rock drops and fun berms.

The more advanced Crank Shaft is for those wanting some serious downhill action. Combine with one of the upper trails such as Arcadia or Ridge Rider, to experience a full 600 metres of vertical! The trail starts at the base of White Star chairlift and cuts down through the Valley View lift area ending with a short section through the Ponderosa Pines, onto the access road. From there a shuttle service takes riders back up to the carpark.

crankshaft       bottom of crankshaft 

Easter Egg Hunt

For families and youngsters, the highlight of the weekend was most definitely the Kid’s Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday. Cardrona’s famous hostess, Carol, led the charge on-foot with a treasure hunt for the littlies at the Kid’s Bike Park. Even the youngest hunters raced around and found the hidden treats.

Next was a two-wheeled hunt for the older kids. A group of keen youngsters was lead down the new Afternoon Delight trail where they scrambled around rocks to find chocolate treasures. For some it was their very first experience of lift-accessed down-hill mountain biking, and although there were some challenging moments, it is safe to say they were all stoked with the experience. All the kids finished with bulging pockets of chocolate treats and smiles on their faces!

sarahs kids easter egg hunt    easter egg hunt around the rocks     stoked kids after easter egg hunt 

Coming up

Coming up in the last weekend of the school holidays we host both the Mini Avalanche and Mega Avalanche downhill mountain bike races on the 18th and 19th of April respectively.

The Mini Avalanche is for under 17 year olds with two age divisions: 10 & under and 16 & under. Watch out for more details coming soon to

The Mega Avalanche is a downhill mountain bike event that mixes gravity assisted excitement with endurance levels of fitness! The 14km, 1330 vertical metre downhill course is a mix of open trails, twisty single tracks, steep descents and narrow technical switchbacks, ending with a spectacular finish in the Race to the Sky Village in Cardrona Valley. More details here.

Whether you want to give your kids their first taste of down-hill mountain biking, or if you’re a down-hill demon, Cardrona Bike Park has the trails for you! The Cardrona Bike Park is open until the 19th April.