Lizard stops Cardrona’s ‘new’ quad chair

Lizard stops ski development ! Is this a World first? We don’t know but Cardrona have pulled the plug on the Pringles Quad development thanks to a population of rare lizards one of whom’s last remaining bits of habitat in the whole country happened to be right where they were going to install the “new” Pringles Quad as we reported previously.

It’s not happening now – see the word from them here for the detail – which is a great win for the lizards and the environment so no arguments from us. Shout out in fact! The actual terrain will be accessible as it was last season when skiable via gate access with a ski out around to the lifts.

I skinks about it all the time .. © Mandy tocher / Cardrona Alpine Resort

From Cardrona:

An area within Cardrona Alpine Resort has been declared by the Department of Conservation (DOC) as a nationally significant site for alpine lizards, with “the highest diversity of lizards known on the New Zealand mainland”.

The site, just below the resort’s Captain’s Basin,  is home to some of the nation’s rarest lizards, including the nationally vulnerable Orange-spotted gecko and Lakes skink species.

The lizards were discovered whilst surveying the proposed footprint of the Pringles Quad chairlift, which was originally scheduled to be installed in time for Winter 2019.  A significant effort was made by the Cardrona team, working closely with scientists and DOC, to create a plan that would mitigate any potential impact on the lizard species caused by the lift construction. In April, it became clear that mitigation plans required further time and the lift would not be installed for Winter 2019. 

Cardrona continued work throughout 2019 with one of New Zealand’s leading herpetologists on a detailed study of the population and a Lizard Management Plan. Once confident that the impact on the lizards could be mitigated, Cardrona sought authorisation with DOC under the Wildlife Act.

However, because of the high significance of the area and the lizard species involved, DOC has made the decision to not approve the Wildlife Act Authorisation. This means the Pringles Quad chairlift will not be installed at Cardrona.

“Though we are very disappointed we will not be able to install the Pringle’s lift, we support the position DOC has taken to protect these rare and endangered lizards,” says Bridget Legnavsky, Cardrona Alpine Resorts Ltd General Manager.

The Pringles Quad has been part of a major upcycling project with Doppelmayr, taking the old McDougall’s Quad (replaced with the Chondola in 2016) and upgrading it to bring up to modern standards.

The resort has surveyed other lift locations and is looking to repurpose the lift on a different a site.

“This lift is an incredible asset, and we’re excited to explore these other sites to install it – sites that have already been surveyed and aren’t home to any of our rare friends!” says Legnavsky.

“We are carefully considering our options to prioritise the lift’s installation in a strategic way for our future lift network. We are working hard to have this lift installed for Winter 2021.”

As for the highly-anticipated, advanced level Pringles terrain – this will be patrolled terrain in 2020 as part of a “slackcountry” experience for advanced skiers and snowboarders. The gates will be opened when snow and weather conditions allow. 

This is what was going to happen:

Cardrona is on a roll and then some! After the awesome Chondola debuted last season they are following up for 2019 with a new quad chair opening up the advanced to expert terrain below the Captain’s Basin Express quad – and making a lot more vertical there. Actually it’s not quite a new one, it’s the refurbished Macdougall’s Quad that was removed for the Chondy last year – waste not want not!

Cardrona 2019 Trail Map
Inset of Cardrona’s proposed 2019 trail map showing the new lift and terrain it opens up

Summer 2019 is set to be another busy one of developments up at Cardrona Alpine Resort, with today’s announcement of a new lift, accessing advanced terrain, to be installed in the “Pringles” area of the resort.
Pringles offers 55ha of new advanced, technical terrain. The Pringles Quad chairlift will be installed in the basin directly below Captain’s Express and above Pringles Creek, with the top station just above Captain’s Pizzeria.
The new Pringles Quad will be the upgraded, repurposed McDougall’s Quad, which was removed in 2016/17 to make way for New Zealand’s first gondola lift on a ski area, the McDougall’s Chondola – which created arguably the best learn to ski experience in Australia or New Zealand as we found making our road movie.

The Pringles terrain will include a main intermediate trail, a series of expert and advanced chutes, and a trail that extends all the way around the front of the mountain to the base of Valley View Quad.
It also opens up the terrain directly beside Captain’s Basin, which has always had a challenging exit to get back to the bottom of Captain’s Express. Secret Chutes are a local’s favourite which will be a welcome addition to Cardrona’s lift-accessed terrain.
“We’re so stoked to be able to offer some of the more advanced terrain our people have been asking for next winter,” says Cardrona’s General Manager, Bridget Legnavsky.
“The terrain on offer with Pringles is unlike anything we offer at Cardrona at the moment.”
Pringles has a southerly-facing aspect, with reliable snow conditions throughout the New Zealand winter season.
“We’ve been keeping an eye on that terrain for a long time now,” says Legnavsky. “The snow down there has looked consistently epic as we’ve monitored it for a couple of seasons, so we’re super excited to get to ski there soon!”
The new Pringles Quad will increase lift capacity at Cardrona from 5500 to 7000 skiers per hour, an increase of 20% total. The added capacity will take pressure off existing chairlifts, primarily Captain’s Express and Whitestar Express.
The ski trails will take Cardrona’s terrain percentages to 25% beginner, 25% intermediate, 25% advanced & 25% expert – making the mountain a playground for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.
Pringles adds 55ha of skiable terrain to Cardrona for next winter, taking Cardrona to 400ha of skiable terrain total. With the Soho Ski Area development over the next few years, the resort will more than double in terrain size to 900ha of skiable terrain, making Cardrona the largest single commercial ski area in New Zealand.
“It’s so important to us that everyone feels welcome at Cardrona, and that means building lifts and expanding into terrain that captures the imagination of our guests. We can’t wait to see how they make this new terrain their own,” says Legnavsky.
Construction on the existing McDougall’s Quad upgrade is already underway by lift company Doppelmayr. The install of the lift and trail work are due to begin in early 2019.

Cardrona's new terrain for 2019
Some of the terrain below Captain’s Basin chair the new lift will open up for 2019 © Cardrona