How to Ski Cardrona Like a Local

Cardrona, New Zealand’s most popular ski resort – Proudly perching between Queenstown and Wanaka creating easy access for skiers and snowboarders.

Stick with us for 5 minutes and learn everything you need to know about Cardrona Alpine Resort to construct a killer ski day.

Just 30 minutes from Wanaka, Cardrona is the premier choice for the majority skiers who reside there, while the 1-hour drive from Queenstown provides a bonus snow option for ‘The Adventure Capital of the World.’

The east-facing aspect of the mountainside yields alluring snow conditions whilst still glowing in the winter sun.

Mixing in with the crisp snow are world-class facilities and happy smiling faces all day long.

There’s really everything to love about ‘Cardies’. 

Opening times Winter: 8.30am – 4pm

  • Base Area Elevation: 1670m
  • Highest Lifted Point: 1860m
  • Vertical Rise: 600m
  • Ski Lifts: 6
  • Beginner Terrain: 25%
  • Intermediate Terrain: 25%
  • Advanced Terrain: 30%
  • Expert Terrain: 20%

Want to get on the slopes first? Get your w and Queenstown ski hire delivered along with your lift pass, direct to your accommodation!

Cardrona Lift Passes

We are delighted to be partnered with Cardrona and offering ski passes in addition to our rentals. 

Starting from the 2023 ski season onwards, Cardrona is putting a limit on day and multi-day pass sales to reduce skier numbers. Passes will now sell out on the busiest days, and prices may increase depending on the demand of the day. 

Keeping all of the above in mind, we have a wee hack for you.

Snopro has a special allocation of ski passes available to our guests, outside of Cardrona’s own retail availability.  These passes are also not subject to ‘demand’ pricing, hence the best price always! Now you can secure yourself with not just ski rentals, but a spot on the mountain too.

With this advantageous pool available to our customers, comes more opportunity to secure that golden ticket to shorter wait times, clearer runs, and an overall better mountain experience. Did I also mention that you don’t have to queue for these passes either? We can now email you a barcode, and all you have to do is scan this at one of the kiosk machines located at one of the Cardrona offices located in Wanaka, Queenstown, or up Cardrona Mountain. 

To learn more check out Cardrona Pass Update.


Getting to Cardrona

Getting to Cardrona from Queenstown

Driving from Queenstown to Wanaka is nothing short of spectacular. The quickest route is over The Crown Range Road which is New Zealand’s highest main road. Imagine the dazzling views and if you’re up early for first lifts then prepare for a heart-melting sunrise.

Be sure to check weather conditions before setting off in the morning, bad weather can cause road closures. Plus you may need snow chains to get up to the ski resort. Follow Queenstown District Lakes on Facebook for live road updates.

Heres some directions:

If you don’t have a car there are also a number of other options for you to choose between. Many buses run from Queenstown including a package by Real Journeys

Driving to Cardrona from Wanaka

Driving from Wanaka to Cardrona is super easy. Cruise the open road out of town into the valley. It won’t take long to arrive at the base of the mountain road winding its way up to the ski field. Take a minute to check driving conditions before setting off in the morning, fresh snowfall usually requires chains to be fitted to 2WD vehicles.

Heres some directions for you:

 Other transport options are also available for getting to Cardrona. A selection of companies operates buses to the ski field including Real Journeys. 


CARDRONA TOP TIP: Park at Valley View. If you already have your ski pass then find yourself a park at the bottom of the Valley View chairlift. It’ll cut 10 minutes off your drive and get you straight out on the snow. 

Skiing Cardrona – Around the mountain.

It’s a pretty unique set up at Cardrona Alpine Resort with a modern lift system serving skiers into two separate bowls.

Credit: Cardrona Alpine Resort

Wide open runs suit progressing skiers who want to explore the mountain without facing a huge challenge. Once you’ve got your confidence, take a cruise around Skyline Ridge for a stunning view filled with achievement. It’s easy to access via McDougall’s Express Chondola which offers the option of gondola or chairlift depending on your ski level.

Advancing skiers are laden with options no matter your style or preferences.

Carve your way through the valley. Sniff out some long high speed carving in a top to bottom thigh burner. Rip a lap from the top of Whitestar down along Arcadia Basin followed by Tail Race finishing at Valley View chairlift. An early morning warm-up that will pump the adrenaline on pristine corduroy groomers.

Credit: Cardrona Alpine Resort

Freeriders slip away to the Secret and Arcadia chutes when the snow is on point. Small hikes from the lift summits open up fresh lines all day long. A particular favourite is the traverse around the top of Captain’s Bowl, stay high to access the chutes and drops. All eyes will be watching from the chairlift as you pick your line and drop in, don’t mess it up!

Freestyle skiers and snowboarders land in heaven at Cardrona. The terrain park is world class. Fact. Huge kickers, gnarly rail lines and an icy superpipe lay in wait. The Whitestar chairlift delivers you to the drop in, where it’s not uncommon to rub shoulders with the pro’s, especially during the Winter Games NZ.

Credit: Cardrona Alpine Resort

Facilities at Cardrona

The off-snow facilities are in abundance at Cardrona. From laid-back cafes to champagne vista views, there’s a little something to suit all tastes.

  • Base Cafe – Ideal for a swift stop to refuel during your ski day. The open layout is stacked full of pies, homemade sandwiches and mountain meals.
  • The Mezz – A comfortable luxury touch for all times of the day. Delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the restaurant along with coffees and an afternoon tipple.
  • Noodle Bar – Oodles of noodles for Asian food lovers. Ski straight in from the Skyline Ridge for some sunny stirfry and even a sneaky bit of Sushi.
  • Java – Grab a quick pick me up and a healthy recharge. Java’s selection of freshly made juices and smoothies will get you going in the morning while homemade soup is a go-to winter warmer.
  • Captains Pizzeria – Take a trip over to the Captain’s Basin for a selection of wide open runs. Nestling away on the far side is fresh pizza, local beer and cider.
  • Little Meg Cafe – Can’t stop, won’t stop. Having a good time? Little Meg Cafe is hidden at the bottom of Valley View lift for skiers and snowboarders needing a coffee fix on the go.
  • Vista Bar – Float up the McDougall’s Express Chondola for an ultimate spot to clink champagne glasses. Sink into a bean bag and snap some photos.

Top Cardrona Ski Tips

1. Park at Valley View car park

2. Have your ski rental delivered

3. Pre-buy your lift pass

4. Skyline Ridge for awesome views

5. Use the drop off zone

6. Check driving conditions

7. Take Whitestar to watch freestylers in the park

8. Grab a coffee from Little Meg


Looking for more information about your ski holiday in Queenstown or Wanaka? Check out the Complete Guide to Skiing in Queenstown and Wanaka here.


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