Prime Spot For A Kip Between Skiing At Cardrona

17 March 2015

As the last of the day visitors pack their tired kids, exhausted legs and copious amount of ski gear into their cars, before joining the tango line of cars crawling down the hill for Queenstown, we can’t help but feel like kids let loose in the candy store after closing time.

Some families opt for a sunset toboggan, others make a snowman and we choose to go to the bar, toasting our good fortune to – almost – have this beautiful place to ourselves as the sun dissolves over the white peaks in a splash of motley orange.

 There's time for kids - young and old - to build a snowman

Cardrona Alpine Resort is approximately a 60-minute drive from Queenstown, depending on snow conditions, over the rugged and beautiful Crown Range, or 45 minutes from Wanaka.

.........................................................................................................................................................

Apartments Are Spoiled For Space

.........................................................................................................................................................

Cardrona is one of the best all- round resorts in New Zealand and is known for its variety of runs, from big, wide cruisers to beautiful groomed slopes, some gnarly blacks and excellent parks and pipes.

It’s no gangly teenager either; Cardrona has been around for 35 years.

 The apartments have all you might need

Cardrona Alpine Resort has 15 apartments on the second floor of the main building, consisting of three studios (sleeping two-four), five two-bedroom apartments (sleeping four-six), four three-bedroom loft apartments (sleeping eight), three three-bedroom apartments (sleeping six-eight) and one four-bedroom apartment that can sleep eight-ten.

We are in a two-bedroom apartment and are pleasantly surprised by the amount of space. The fully-equipped kitchen has everything needed to whip up a gourmet dinner, if you so desire, as well as a dishwasher.

The dining table is massive and the lounge room has several sofas facing the TV, which has SKY channels. There is a washer/dryer – a must if you have kids, and there are two bathrooms.

.........................................................................................................................................................

Sleep In And Still Beat The Ski Lift Queue

.........................................................................................................................................................

As we didn’t bother to do a large supermarket shop in Queenstown prior to going to Cardrona, and didn’t avail ourselves of Cardrona’s grocery service, we leave the kitchen idle and dine at Mezz Café, upstairs and with lovely views towards the slopes.

Mezz is open for breakfast from 8:00, with a good menu - and excellent coffee - and has a tapas menu and drinks for an hour from 4:30. It’s open for dinner for apartment guests only, from 5:30. The wine list is more than adequate, and the meals are excellent. Should you wish to dine in your apartment, you can organise take away.

 The queues need not be for you

We meet Bridget Levnavsky, general manager of Cardrona over dinner. She's dining with her husband and two children. We chat over a good Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, and learn that Bridget has been in the ski industry for more than 20 years and has risen up through the ranks at Cardrona.

“We are like a big family here and we have a great culture of looking after our visitors, who we treat more as guests. I love it here,” she says.

The best thing about the apartments is that you can sleep in – especially after a very social dinner - mosey down to breakfast and still be first in line for the chairlifts at nine.


Wanaka the way it should be. Wanaka: The NZ You’ve Always Dreamed Of

Mix with the A-listers at Cardrona Get A Red Nose With Celebrities At Cardrona


.........................................................................................................................................................

Pit Stop At The Pizzeria

.........................................................................................................................................................

You only need to walk about 50m to strap on your skis or snowboard and either head up McDougalls Quad chair or ski down to Whitestar Express.

 It's family friendly

Choices, choices. We zip down to Whitestar, doing a few laps down Goldrush and Sluicebox before riding down Swaggerman to the Captain’s Express lift.

We spend hours frolicking about Captain’s basin, plotting different tracks down the basin sides to the chair, speeding down Paradise and Gin and Raspberry and basically having a blast, refuelling when necessary at Captain’s Pizzeria.

Advanced skiers and boarders seek out the Secret Chute and Tulips in Captains and in Arcadia Basin, which has plenty of blacks to keep the adrenalin levels up.

.........................................................................................................................................................

The Tired Legs Can Wait

.........................................................................................................................................................

Around Valley View, we love Last Shot Bowl, Tailrace and the bottom of Goldrush Downhill, with improvements being made before this season where Tailrace comes into Valley View.

To finish the day, we do a few runs off the top of McDougalls Quad, with one of the most enjoyable being Skyline, an easy green which gives magnificent views over the Southern Alps.

Knowing we could go straight to our room at the bottom of the run meant we could ignore tired legs and do that one, last run. Oh, and another one.

Number crunching

Highest lifted point – 1,860 metres

Base area elevation – 1,670 metres

Lifts – seven

Terrain – 345 hectares

Parks and pipes – four parks, two half pipes including a 22-foot (6.5-metre) Olympic Superpipe, a Big Air and a gravity cross course

Terrain breakdown – 25 per cent beginner, 50 per cent intermediate, 25 per cent advanced

Opening hours – 9am to 4pm

2015 season – 13 June to 11 October

Kids at Cardrona

Cardrona shines when it comes to kids with four separate kids’ areas ensuring plenty of space for the various age groups. Kids as young as two can learn to ski in Ski Kindy, with Skiwees catering for kids five-14 and Lowriders for snowboarding lessons for kids seven-14.

Helen Hayes

When not at home chained to the computer keyboard, I love nothing more than checking out ski resorts here and overseas, tropical islands, country towns, big cities, beautiful places to sail, and anywhere I can ride a horse. Twitter @helenhayes4 Instagram @helenhayesmedia