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We asked NZ Freeride Team skier Manu Barnard for his favourite spots at Cardrona for big mountain riding – here's what he had to say!

Cardrona, although most famous for its world-class terrain parks and brilliant beginner facilities, is also home to some of NZ’s best off-piste “freeride” terrain. These spots are hidden (sometimes in plain sight) but are easy to find if you know where to look.

Here are a few of my favourite spots to score uncrowded, fresh turns:

Captain’s Basin

The sprawling bowl of Captain's is home to Cardrona's most accessible and most playful freeride terrain. Comprised of many rolling steep sections, linked by groomers, it is the perfect place to “hot-lap” with your mates at any time of the season. It is also home to several classic “showpony” lines and jumps directly beneath the chairlift. 

Arcadia Chutes

Accessed by taking Whitestar Express, and traversing to the skier’s left of Upper Gold r=Rush, the Arcadia Chutes are a Cardrona classic. They are my first port of call on a powder day. 

The chutes, which face east, are the resort’s largest piece of continuous steep terrain. Two sets of chutes are broken by the flatter area of Arcadia Valley, perfect for recovering after the first set and watching your mates come down behind you. The chutes are struck by the morning sun before most other runs, and therefore make for great sun-softened spring skiing too. The chutes can be lapped from Whitestar Express with minimal traversing, meaning more vertical metres of great terrain, in less time than anywhere else on the mountain. 

Will Jackways dropping in huuuuge to Arcadia Chutes! Pic: Danny Warley

The only disadvantage of the Arcadia Chutes is that they are well signposted and often are tracked first by locals – so get in quick! 

Secret Bowl 

The Secret Bowl, aptly named, is Cardrona’s best-kept secret. Accessed by traversing far skier’s left from the top of Captain’s Express, this bowl is slightly more challenging access, meaning it is often left untouched by the masses. The bowl is a reasonably mellow gradient but is often home to some unique wind features which make for playful skiing/riding. I often ski this little gem a few days after fresh snow and still manage to score fresh tracks. 

Manu himself skiing in Secret Bowl. Pic: Mat Woods

Make sure not to get greedy though – if you miss the traverse out it can be tricky to get back to Captain's without walking! 

Summit Hike

Home to Cardrona's most steep and rocky chutes, the summit hike, which is accessed from the top of McDougall’s, is not for the faint-hearted. Facing almost directly south, this piece of terrain holds winter snow for the longest, meaning fresh tracks can be found days or even weeks after a storm. 

The summit hike. Photos: Danny Warley

About the Author

Manu Barnard

NZ Freeride Team Skier

Young Manu Barnard is one of New Zealand's most promising up and coming freeride skiers, with impressive results on the world circuit!