Visitor reviews for Cardrona Ski Resort

Cardrona Ratings

Overall: 3.7. Based on 25 votes and 23 reviews. Vote

Snowsure: 4.0

(1) Occasionally gets enough snow for skiing, (2) is often closed due to a lack of snow, (3) occasionally suffers from a lack of snow, (4) rarely suffers from a lack of snow, (5) Cardrona is snowsure even in the poorest seasons.

Variety of pistes: 3.9

(1) The ski runs are featureless and unvaried, (3) the ski runs are varied but not extensive enough for a week, (5) Cardrona has diverse and interesting pistes including forests and high alpine terrain.

Off-piste: 3.3

(1) No off-piste worth mentioning, (2) off piste is out-of-bounds, (3) some varied offpiste that stays fresh for one or two days, (5) a vast array of off-piste routes that can stay untracked for several days.

Scenery: 4.4

(1) An ugly resort in a bland setting, (3) average mountain views and resort, (5) a spectacular setting and a beautiful / historic resort town.

Access: 4.4

(1) At least one overnight stop, (2) requires a whole day, (3) requires more than half a day – you may have time for a few turns (4) arrive by lunchtime and ski all afternoon, (5) there is a main airport within an hour of Cardrona.

Public Transport: 4.1

(1) There are no buses or taxis to Cardrona, (3) there are slow or infrequent buses / trains available, (5) getting to the resort is easy with frequent bus / train connections.

Accommodation: 3.4

(1) No places to stay in/near Cardrona, (3) a few places to stay in the resort, (5) a wide variety of accommodation suitable to suit all budgets.

Cheap Rooms: 2.8

(1) No budget accommodation available, (3) just one or two hostels so book ahead, (5) several cheap hostels and pensions available.

Luxury Hotels: 3.4

(1) No luxury accommodation available, (3) just one or two luxury hotels so book ahead, (5) several up-market hotels in Cardrona.

Ski in/Ski out: 3.7

(1) The ski area is located far from any accommodation, (3) a free ski bus takes you to the ski area in a short trip, (5) Ski-in ski-out accommodation is available.

Childcare: 4.7

(1) There are no child care facilities at Cardrona, (5) the resort has excellent child-care facilities including at least one reasonably priced creche.

Snowmaking: 3.9

(1) Cardrona relies entirely on natural snow, (3) there are just a few snow cannons, (5) there are snowmaking facilities on all pistes.

Snow Grooming: 4.8

(1) There are no snow groomers at Cardrona, (3) occasionally some pistes are left ungroomed and in a poor state, (5) all the runs at Cardrona are groomed daily.

Shelter: 2.7

(1) there is nowhere to ski when it is windy or visibility is bad and lifts often shut, (3) there are some trees for poor visibility but main lifts sometimes close, (5) Cardrona is mostly in forest where you can ski in flat-light and windy days, lifts rarely close.

Nearby options: 3.3

(1) If snow conditions are poor at Cardrona, it will be poor everywhere nearby, (3) there are good alternatives within an hours drive, (5) other locations on the same lift pass provide a rich variety of snowsure ski conditions.

Regional rating: 4.5

(1) Cardrona usually has poor snow conditions compared to other resorts in region, (3) has average conditions for the region, (5) usually has the best snow conditions in the region.

Lift Staff: 4.7

(1) The staff at Cardrona are rude or unhelpful, (5) lift staff at Cardrona are pleasant, cheerful and eager to help.

Crowds/Queues: 3.4

(1) the resort is always busy and there are usually long lift queues, (3) it is quiet apart from occasional weekends and school holidays, (5) it is uncrowded and lift queues are very rare.

Ski Schools: 4.7

(1) No ski schools available, (2) one or two ski schools but local language only, (3) a few ski schools but book early for multi-lingual instructors, (4) plenty of ski schools and multi-lingual instructors available, (5) excellent ski schools with friendly multi-lingual ski instructors.

Hire and Repairs: 4.4

(1) Nothing can be sourced, not even ski-wax or ptex. (3) there are some ski shops but rentals need to be booked in advance, (5) good quality ski equipment can be purchased or hired and overnight repairs are possible.

Beginners: 4.4

(1) Beginners can only watch others ski and snowboard, (3) a few gentle slopes but beginners will get bored in less than a week, (3) Vast areas of gentle terrain.

Intermediates: 4.6

(1) No intermediate terrain at Cardrona, (3) intermediate skiers will get bored after a few days, (5) vast areas of cruising runs.

Advanced: 3.6

(1) Nothing for advanced skiers and snowboarders, (3) enough steep terrain for a few days with some good offpiste, (5) Enough steep terrain and offpiste areas to entertain advanced skiers for at least a week.

Snow Park: 4.7

(1) Not even a kicker at Cardrona, (3) average sized park quite well looked after, (5) huge park area and expertly crafted pipes, jumps and boardercross trails.

Cross-country: 2.5

(1) There is nowhere to go for cross-country skiing around Cardrona, (3) there are some cross country trails available, (5) the area features many spectacular and well maintained cross-country trails.

Luge/Toboggan: 2.0

(1) No designated luge or toboggan runs, (3) there are toboggan runs that open quite often, (5) Cardrona has long and well maintained luge / toboggan facilities suitable for all ages.

Mountain Dining: 4.0

(1) Nowhere to buy food by the pistes, (3) some places to eat up on the mountain but they are often busy and expensive, (5) there is a variety of excellent mountain eateries right next to the slopes to suit all budgets.

Eating: 3.8

(1) Bring your own food, there isn't even a shop. (5) A wide variety of places to eat and drink in the resort, from fast food to fancy restaurants.

Apres-Ski: 3.2

(1) Nothing to do, not even a bar, (3) there are a few bars in the resort but nothing special, (5) clubs and bars stay open until very late and have a friendly atmosphere.

Other Sports: 2.1

(1) No sports facilities at all apart from ski lifts, (3) resort has just a small public swimming pool, (5) resort has all kinds of sports facilities, including a full-size swimming pool.

Entertainment: 2.6

(1) Besides the snow and walking there is nothing to do here, (3) the non-skier will find things to do for few days but may become bored after a week, (5) the resort area is a fascinating place to visit, regardless of winter sports.

Winter Walks: 2.5

(1) Very limited walking and no snowshoe trails, (3) a couple of designated scenic walking/snowshoe trails, (5) extensive and diverse winter walking trails for all abilities.

Ski Pass Value: 3.6

(1) A 1 week ski pass is overpriced compared to the number of lifts available, (3) the ski pass is averagely priced and covers a reasonable number of lifts, (5) ski passes are excellent value for money and cover a lot of lifts spanning a big area.

Value (National): 3.9

(1) Overall, Cardrona is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the country and not worth the money, (3) overall represents average value for money, (5) overall offers the best value resort in the country.

Value (Global): 3.7

(1) Overall, Cardrona is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world, (3) overall it offers pretty average value for money compared to resorts from other countries, (5) internationally the resort offers excellent value for money.

Show all 35 ratings

July 28, 2021
Ron Eckstrom from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
Won’t go back in a hurry.Massive long lines, short runs, marginal snow conditions. Really not much different than Coronet Peak in overall ski quality, except 1 more chairlift running 5X as many people. Awful access road, but ever so slightly more snow. Felt like a second class citizen waiting in long lines for the literally hundreds of red shirted Cardrona ski schoolers, with instant lift line access, while we waited for each lift for 30-45 minutes. Extremely disappointing experience.
September 28, 2018
Jonny from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
Cardrona has had a lot of money invested in it over the last 3 seasons. This includes a complete revamp and new chair/gondola for the beginner slope. This summer they are putting in a new chair at the bottom of ‘Captains’ which will take the total number of chairs to 6 on the mountain. Cardrona have also secured the rights to the Soho Basin which will open in 2020. This will take the total skiable area to 900ha making it the largest ski field in New Zealand. Cardrona also has the best snow park in NZ and has two half pipes. All new snow making equipment and science means that there is always a good amount of snow on the mountain. Like all resorts across the world in can get busy in the NZ/OZ school holidays. But with the new chair and areas opening this will help disperse the crowds. Otherwise, Cardrona wait times are normally pretty good. Early season and spring are also good snow-sure options. There are lots of places to eat and drink on the mountain. Prices are not hugely inflated and there is a good variety of food and drink to suit any budget. Cardrona has an excellent selection of rental gear and update it every season. This means if you are renting up the hill you are getting modern, often new gear. not old worn out 6 season old stuff. There is also an option to hire ‘advanced’ skis and snowboards. The staff here are excellent. The ‘Parks’ crew work tirelessly to keep all the jumps and rails in pristine condition. The lifties are always happy and cheerful and ski patrol know their business. You will be safe up the mountain at all times. Most people wear helmets up Cardrona (80%) and there is a higher percentage of skiers over snowboarders. There is always a good friendly vibe on the mountain and the runs are well thought out. And the best part is there are 3 other mountains all within an hour's drive.
July 16, 2016
Patricia from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
Cardrona is my favourite of the Queenstown/Wanaka ski fields. Great for kids to learn at with extremely good kids ski school and good learner runs (beginners magic carpet now has a covered half 'Tunell' to protect from bad weather). Staff: friendly, views: spectacular and nice generous runs; not long (longest is 4kms) but interesting. Food is, like all NZ fields, average at best; 'fuel stops' is a good description but they are all similar, unfortunately. Lifts are ok, 1st quad is slow but others fine. It's a small field on world standards. Don't expect a resort, it's not. Mountain accm is minimal, booked out early and only 'functional'. Long dirt road to get to base facilities and if self driving, car parking normally involves either a shuttle or a walk to facilities. Definitely no ski concierges or good quality mountain restaurants to enhance the skiing experience! Runs are above tree line so no skiing between trees but it's stunning scenery. Rental equipment is adequate, not great. Price wise, it's not cheap; close to $100 for an adult lift pass. We ski a lot in Europe and North America where you get the big & small resorts, the long runs, normally almost guaranteed snow (depending on time of year), massively varied terrain, fast lifts, gondolas, funiculars, heated seats, amazing service (US) and in Europe those gorgeous mountain restaurants. NZ and Australia simply can't compare to those resorts, we don't have the size, the developed terrain or the facilities but getting to Europe or North America to ski is time consuming and expensive and taking the kids to learn probably means taking out a second mortgage so unattractive to us. Our kids learnt at Coronet, Cardrona & Remarkables and loved every minute of it. We're confident if they can ski well in NZ they can ski almost anywhere in the world as our terrain is interesting and can be demanding. If you're spending time in Queenstown/Wanaka my pick is Cardrona.
September 01, 2014
Graham from Ski United Kingdom United Kingdom
Visited in late August 2014 along with Coronet Peak and Treble Cone. As indicated in previous reviews, NZ ski fields are much smaller than many of those in Europe. They are not resorts, they are more akin to the drive-to-and-ski fields such as Sunshine Village and Lake Louise in Canada (albeit smaller). Cardrona is a really pleasant field. It's not huge and a good skier will have skied it all in a day (or less). However, the runs are nice (mostly Euro blue-red standard) and the scenery is stunning. Lifts are generally modern and speedy; slightly annoying that NZ lifts don't to have foot rests, and McDougalls lift is very slow and uncomfortable. Main restaurant if v busy at lunch-time (not sure on prices, we bought our own food, as did many others). Drive up, on gravel, was ok; was chain free for us (but very dusty). Have chains with you. Easiest to get to from Wanaka. Not many enticing multi-day deals to be had (you save $3-5 on subsequent days), with the adult price being ~$98 per day. Compared to area passes, in some Euro resorts, this strikes me as a bit expensive given the size of the fields. Multi-day passes bought for Cardrona can also be used at Treble Cone (but not Coronet Peak or Remarkables; different operating companies). Staff are really pleasant and its good to see lifties marshalling the list queues to ensure that lifts are full and there is no pushing-in (Europe could learn from this). Liked Cardrona, but I think Coronet Peak offers that bit more.
August 20, 2013
Phil from Ski Australia Australia
Just returned from Cardrona and the other southern resorts. Cardrona has nailed a niche for terrain parks, well done. I really enjoy skiing at Cardrona with my family but it was super noticable this year that the crowds have grown over the years to a point that it's worse than OZ and other facilities haven't kept up. Same at the other resorts. Not even a seat outside to sit and have lunch beyond the same ones that were there 10-15 years ago. Someone in New Zealand has to step up and lift the experience to world class otherwise the world will go elsewhere as we did the past two years to Chile; it's totally affordable and better value for money.
August 26, 2010
Ilona from Ski Australia Australia
Cardrona has always been our favorite ever since our girls were teenagers. We all learned how to ski there. We have also skied overseas in Italy, Dolomites and and it was absolutely spectacular skiing there with the magnificent scenery. Each ski resort or ski field has its own magic and with Cardrona we have always found that the staff, the terrain ,the road the radio blurb is always spot on. Our family is a big fan of Cardrona as all the staff are 100% with looking after this spectacular mountain resort and there is constant improvement to it. Sometimes you have to take in what there is around you and just get on with it you might be surprised with what happens at the end of the day. Well done Cardrona.
July 08, 2010
Phil from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
As a local I've skied Treble Cone, Coronet Peak, Mt Dobson & Mt Hutt. I'd recommend Cardrona head and shoulders over the rest for pure value for money, good snow, fantastic views, friendly staff, wide open spaces and variety of terrain to play on. I've held a season pass at Cardrona for the past 7-8 years and every year there have been improvements to the field and their service. Big ups to the management and staff for all their efforts. The only slight downer are the queues during the school holidays which can be a bit frustrating. Easy answer though is to stay away for the two weeks in mid July. I've also stayed in the accommodation on the mountain which is very comfortable and makes for a great experience walking out your door, clipping on your gear and going for it. Now they've got two high speed lifts which makes for plenty of skiing in a day. Looking forward to the opening of the new Valley View run which will give us a 4 km run from the top of the Whitestar. It ain't Europe but it's the next best thing.....
September 24, 2009
John from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
Cardrona is varied, has great facilities and is especially good for families of varying abilities.
August 29, 2009
Bronnie from Ski New Zealand New Zealand
Cardrona is a great resort, especially when you head over towards the Captains Basin. There you can find a great playground for all levels. We ride Snowscoots and Cardrona is awesome for all users with plenty of space to get away from the crowds. As a local, I rate Cardrona as a great resort for all levels. Go the Snowscoot.
July 01, 2009
Jennifer from Ski Australia Australia
With a family of six, a ski holiday can often be seen as out of reach. Having paid top dollar for a ski experience in Australia and left skiing in something resembling icecream, Cardrona has provided us with an excellent opportunity to ski with our children in half decent snow. The relaxed atmosphere and second to none kids ski school has us going back again for a third time.