Alpine resort to go year-round


A skifield near Queenstown is taking adventure to new heights this summer with mountain carts, mountain biking, walking trails and overnight accommodation.

After trialling mountain biking for 10 days last summer, Cardrona Alpine Resort will operate for four months, from December 27.

It will open daily till February 14, then from Thursdays to Sundays till the end of Easter.

Real Journeys bought Cardrona in 2013. Company boss Richard Lauder says it has invested about $500,000 develop ing trails for summer business and will operate two chairlifts.

He says he’s most excited about launching three-wheeled mountain carts, imported from Germany.

The carts, operating for the first time in the southern hemisphere, “will be like luging on steroids”.

Two cart trails, for differing abilities, are being built with access via McDougall’s chairlift.

Cardrona’s also developing new downhill and cross country mountain bike trails, particularly for beginners.

They’ll be accessed via the Whitestar chairlift, Lauder says.

Separate walking trails are also being built, along with viewing platforms.

There’s the option of guided walks, too, including stargazing at night.

Cardrona will also operate its accommodation, for up to 100 people, for both tour groups and free and independent travellers.

Lauder: “We’ve got the highest hotel in New Zealand.”

At 1700m above sea level it’s a mile high - “you can read into that what you like”, Lauder quips.

“If we can get conference and incentive groups in the shoulder season, we can keep the hotel open year-round,” he says.

From a year-round staff of 10, Cardrona now has about 40 on permanent contracts.

When it’s open, Lauder says more staff will be running the cafes and accommodation.

Besides selling day passes, the mountain will offer a summer pass and also a year-round pass for $999 taking in both Cardrona’s winter and summer activities, as well as three North American skifields.

Asked about Queenstown skifield operator NZSki slashing its pre-season pass, despite major upgrades to The Remarkables, Lauder says: “Personally I wouldn’t improve the product and then reduce the price.”

NZSki marketing boss Craig Douglas confirms it won’t reopen Coronet Peak for downhill mountain biking this summer after not getting enough interest last summer.