Cardrona closes record season as New Zealand's most popular ski area

snow action team 24.10.2018

Cardrona has done it again, smashing the skier visits record they only set last year with a new best ever total this year. The resort has been on a huge roll in recent seasons, and is New Zealand’s most popular. Of course a lot of that is driven by Aussie visitors enthusiasm, as well as plenty of local support.

Aerial view of Cardrona

Cardrona smashed their visitor record again in 2018 © Cardrona

2018 was also an incredible snow year for the resort – the third greatest aggregate snowfall since records began 17 years ago. Over the 18-week season, more than 3m of snow fell at Cardrona, with the biggest single snowfall of 55cm in early September. This meant excellent skiing and snowboarding
throughout the season, with particularly outstanding snow conditions in spring.

Skiers and snowboarders were treated to one of the longest seasons in New Zealand, skiing in the “pre-season teaser” on Queen’s Birthday weekend, all the way through to Labour weekend in 2018.

The continued success of Cardrona led to some major announcements during the 2018 season, including the Soho Ski Area development, which will see the combined Cardrona-Soho become the largest single commercial ski area in New Zealand over the next few years as we reported.

Cardrona also announced a new chairlift for 2018 to open up the “Pringles” advanced ski and snowboard terrain. This terrain is an entirely different offering for Cardrona, with steeps and chutes to challenge the most experienced skiers and snowboarders. The lift will be the upgraded former McDougall’s Quad (replaced by the McDougall’s Chondola in 2016), and is due for completion in June 2019.

Other developments for the 2019 winter season include a new welcome area and ticket office, the moving of the on-mountain retail store to the existing ticketing area, and a 48% increase in Base Café seating with an extension into the existing retail area.

We rate it the best place to learn to ski in Australasia now, with progress from carpet to the mighty Chondy making life super easy for beginners – check our story on that here.


The resort will also be making significant investment into infrastructure upgrades, including trail work and snowmaking facilities.

“The enthusiasm the community, our guests, our staff and our stakeholders have shown for what we do, and our vision for the future, is inspiring,” says Cardrona General Manager, Bridget Legnavsky.
“We take our role as kaitiaki of this maunga seriously. We’re committed to keep delivering on that vision, with the support of the community, so we can have adventures on this mountain for generations to come.”

This winter was also a successful events season for Cardrona, hosting the majority of the events in the 2018 Audi quattro Winter Games NZ, as well as the third annual Jossi Wells Invitational. X Games and Olympic medallists from all over the world competed in both events.

On a grassroots level, the next generation of Kiwi Winter Olympians competed throughout the season in many disciplines of junior events, including the Snow Sports NZ Junior Freestyle Nationals.

“One of the big highlights of 2018 has been seeing skiers and snowboarders of all levels – including first timers, local school kids, up and coming young athletes, and the world’s best – equally enjoying their time all on the same mountain together,” says Legnavsky.

The resort officially closed on Sunday, October 21, after extending the public season with the McDougall’s Chondola and the Learner Conveyors remaining open for an extra week. The resort now has five weeks to transform into a summer adventure destination. Summer operations of mountain biking, mountain carting, hiking, sightseeing, stargazing, dining and more kick off on December 1, 2018.

“We are so grateful for the support we’ve received this season,” says Legnavsky. “Thank you all for another epic winter up at Cardrona – see you all in 2019!”

Cardrona 2019 Trail Map

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