Skifield merger between Cardies and Soho Basin

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Cardrona Alpine Resort’s about to more than double in size.

Mountain Scene can exclusively reveal a new partnership between Cardies and Queenstown businessman John Darby has been done.

It will result in New Zealand’s largest alpine resort, incorporating tourism giant Real Journeys-owned Cardrona and a new Soho Basin ski area.

All the approvals are in place for the staged development of ski area facilities in Soho Basin – which faces Queenstown and incorporates 500 hectares of high-altitude ski terrain, offering up to 500 vertical metres of skiing.

It covers all the south and west faces of Mt Cardrona, and includes the two Willow Basins which directly adjoin Cardrona’s southern boundary.

Soho Basin, part of Glencoe Station, was first acquired by Darby more than 10 years ago. He says he’s been skiing it with friends and family for more than 20 winter seasons.

“With Cardrona, I’m now looking forward to opening up this same opportunity to the public. It’s a very special place and great care will be taken to preserve this wonderful alpine environment.”

Queenstown-based RJs big boss Richard Lauder says it’s something the company’s been looking at for a while.

“We’re both extremely pleased that we can work together to build a world-class ski area with integrated facilities and amenities that will be both NZ’s largest mountain resort and a truly world-class ski destination.”

As a result, Cardies will more than double in size, to more than 900ha of skiable terrain. Access to Soho will come from the top of the McDougall’s Chondola and there’ll be facility development at the top of the mountain to support it.

Development of the ski area and other facilities will start once Cardies masterplan’s completed.

The expansion also means Cardrona’s summer operations can grow – at present it offers mountain biking, mountain carting, dining, events and stargazing experience.

– TRACEY ROXBURGH AND PHILIP CHANDLER