Cardrona Ski Field Terrain Zealand/Cardrona/LiftsTerrain/01.jpg

Cardrona Ski Field Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
    Treble Cone Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,260 - 1,860 (600)
  • Average Snow Fall
     2.9 metres
  • Lifts (9)
    1 Chondola
    2 High Speed Quads
    3 Quads
  • Ski Hours
    8:30am to 4:00pm
    Early June to Mid October
  • Terrain Summary
    Size – 465 ha
    Beginner - 25%
    Intermediate - 25%
    Advanced - 30%
    Expert - 20%

Cardrona Ski Field Terrain

The main part of the Cardrona ski field terrain is spread across three southeast facing bowls or zones. On the backside of the mountain in Soho Basin is the new Willows area which is made up of 2 large bowls and 2 cut intermediate runs. Other parts of Soho Basin are utilised by a cat skiing operation, but additional plans are afoot to utilise more of the snow-catching Soho which will increase the size of the terrain significantly.

The above timber line terrain of the Cardrona Ski Field is well suited to beginners, intermediates and shredders, and advanced riders will find enough off-piste terrain to keep them happy for a while.

Cardrona Lifts

The Cardrona Ski Resort features a chondola to service the two main beginner runs, which in addition to 6-pack chairs has 10 gondola cabins which are ideal for inclement weather days. Cardrona also has 2 express quads and 3 fixed grip quads, and surface lifts for the terrain park and novice area.

The placement of the chairlifts is OK, but there can be a lot of traversing/transport to get to and from the lifts which gets a little tedious and repetitive (but at least it’s ten times better than Treble Cone with its 2 lifts). One example is the Arcadia Chutes area where there is a reasonably long cat track to get back to the lift.

The Willows lift in the Soho area is a welcome addition, considering that very long lift queues can develop on the frontside, even on weekdays. More lifts are planned for Soho in the future, including the primary Soho express chairlift which will link the area to the top of Captain's Basin.

Unfortunately plans for the new Pringles lift were disbanded due to a discovery of a special lizard population in the zone.

Lift Tickets

Lift ticket prices at Cardrona are incredibly expensive relative to the small NZ ski fields. Prices have risen and sales capped in an effort to control the volume of daily visitors, which adds layers of complexity to purchasing a ticket which needs to be done in advance. During peak times there is no longer the option to wait until the day to see what the weather’s doing or what mood you’re in.

Multi-day passes offer some savings, although if you want the flexibility to potentially also use the pass at Treble Cone, you need to purchase a Flexi 5-day Pass which is more costly than a standard multi-day pass. 

Cardrona Snow

Cardrona ski resort only receives 2.9 metres of snowfall annually but it retains the snow pretty well considering the southeast aspect on the main bowls and the south aspect of the Willows area. In comparison, Treble Cone gets a lot more snow than Cardrona (5.5m per season) and the top elevation is a hundred metres higher, but the TC aspect is warm and the snow is more prone to melting than at Cardrona.

The base elevation of Cardrona is rather low and the trails near the base of the Valley View quad lift often rely heavily on manmade snow.

Ski Cardrona - For the Beginner

Cardrona New Zealand is incredibly well set up for beginners so it scores 5 out of 5 from us. All green terrain is within view of the base area and there are nicely stepped progressions. Absolute novices can start in the very gentle terrain serviced by the magic carpets, then progress onto the chondola. Apart from the park riders, this area is dedicated to beginners so you can learn in relative peace.

Intermediate Skiing and Snowboarding

Cardrona doesn’t have the fall line ripping blue runs that a couple of NZ ski resorts have, but there are several trails at Cardrona that suit the blue runners reasonably well. Considering how highly trafficked the runs are, it’s sometimes a little difficult to differentiate between the piste and off-piste which can disconcerting, especially if the vis is a bit low.

The Willows area in Soho is a nice spot to play on the piste and also delve off the trails if the snow quality is good.

Terrain Parks & Pipes

With the closing of nearby Snowpark, Cardrona Alpine Resort has taken over the status as having the best terrain parks in New Zealand. Cardrona has 4 terrain parks to cater for different ability (or confidence) levels. Cardrona is also supposed to have pipes including an Olympic superpipe, but it seems that they’re only setup and open for events or special training sessions.

Cardrona Ski Field - Advanced Riders

Captain’s Basin has really interesting terrain features with lumps, bumps, and rock bands – lots of off-piste places for advanced riders to explore. Pick a line and go for it, although a lot of traversing may be involved and take care as none of the cliffs or small drops are marked.

The Arcadia Chutes area is also a bit of fun because there are lots of different rock features and a decent bit of pitch. The degree of challenge here really depends on the amount of snow cover. This area can also be testing for low-end advanced riders in low visibility because the trails aren’t marked.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Some of the lines in the Arcadia Chutes area have short steep pitches for experts only, although the main challenge is when the chutes become tight due to a lack of snow cover. There are some drop-offs but perhaps save these for good visibility days. Captain’s Basin and Secret Bowl also have some playful lines for experts, but any steeps are short lived.

Lower Secret Bowl is opened as conditions allow, and it’s gated and patrolled. The exit can be rather clunky and it involves some walking across rocks to get back to the Valley View chair lift.

Sidecountry & Backcountry

There is a little bit of sidecountry outside the skiers’ left boundary of Cardrona. You have to cut back in reasonably quickly for a low effort return to the lifts or you can put skinning laps in.