Soho rocks

Skiing at Soho Basin.

Skiing at Soho Basin.

DREAM COME TRUE: Soho Basin will add an additional 500ha of high-altitude skiable terrain, effectively doubling the size of Cardrona to over 900ha of skiable terrain. Picture supplied by Soho Ski Area
Mt Cardrona from the Soho Basin side showing the Queenstown Return cat track near the ridge. Picture by Danny Warley
Skiers at Soho are transported up the mountain by snow cat. Picture supplied by Soho Ski Area

Justine Tyerman is so excited at the prospect of skiing at Soho Basin later this month, she’s even started climbing Kaiti Hill steps every day to get fit for the powder . . .

The last run of the day at Cardrona Alpine Resort has become something of a tradition for me. It’s a cruisy, scenic glide along the Queenstown Return cat-track which looks down on a beautiful expanse of wide open slopes and basins with magnificent snow- cover, bathed in late afternoon sunshine.

For decades, I’ve gazed longingly at this pristine terrain known as Soho Basin, praying one day the area would become part of the Cardrona field . . . hopefully before I got too decrepit to get on a pair of skis.

It made eminent sense to me because Soho is directly behind the existing Cardrona ski field, adjoining the resort’s southern boundary. It covers all the southern and south-west faces of Mt Cardrona, looking towards Queenstown and the Wakatipu Basin with row-upon-row of the Southern Alps as a backdrop. The panorama is just jaw-dropping.

Tantalising rumours of a chairlift being built on the Soho side of the mountain have come and gone over the years but it still came as a delicious, spine-tingling, scream-worthy surprise when the announcement came last month of a partnership between Real Journeys Group, the owners of Cardrona Alpine Resort, and Queenstown businessman John Darby who owns Soho Basin.

It seemed too good to be true, but after pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, there in black and white were the words all southern skiers had longed to hear. . . straight from the top.

Real Journeys group chief executive Richard Lauder said: “This has been something we’ve been looking at for some time and we’re both extremely pleased that we can work together to build a world class ski area with integrated facilities and amenities that will be both New Zealand’s largest mountain resort and a truly world-class ski destination.”
Soho Basin will add an additional 500ha of high altitude skiable terrain, effectively doubling the size of Cardrona to over 900ha of skiable terrain. That’s massive!

Access to Soho Basin will be from the top of McDougall’s Chondola, a $10 million Doppelmayr lift combining eight-person gondola cabins and six-seater chairs, installed last year before the winter season.
Soho Basin, part of Glencoe Station, was first acquired by John Darby over a decade ago.

“The diversity of the slopes in the Soho Basin make it an exceptional ski area for all levels of skiers,” said Mr Darby.

“Its high altitude, southerly-facing aspect means it receives and retains a good cover of early snow. And Soho offers spectacular views out over Queenstown, the Wakatipu Basin, and across the Main Divide,” he said.

“I’ve skied Soho Basin with friends and family for well over 20 fabulous winter seasons. With Cardrona, I’m now looking forward to opening up this same opportunity to the public. It’s a very special place and great care will be taken to preserve this wonderful alpine environment.”

Cardrona general manager Bridget Legnavsky could barely contain her glee (see the video of the announcement on our website): “To be a truly world-class alpine resort, you need to have extensive lift networks, multiple aspects and varying terrain — this new terrain and the developments that go with it will really make Cardrona an extraordinary experience in Aotearoa,” she said.

“We’re thrilled at this opportunity to continue creating epic experiences for all our people now, and into the future.”

Then came the reality check. While the partnership is a done deal, the actual development of the Soho field is a major project which will take a few years.

Development of the larger, integrated Cardrona-Soho Ski Area will be in accordance with the agreed masterplan for the combined ski areas. Cardrona is three years into a five-year development plan that has focused on preparing Cardrona for the Soho expansion by improving guest flow and capacity. This has included installation of the McDougall’s Chondola to increase uplift, the refurbishment and repurposing of the Base Area buildings, and expanded car parking with a connecting shuttle service.

All necessary approvals are now in place to commence the staged development of ski area facilities in the Soho Basin and work is expected to begin, once the current Cardrona master plan is completed.

The expansion also has implications for Cardrona’s summer operations, with the opportunity to grow further as New Zealand’s only mountain resort to offer a full summer of activities including mountain biking, mountain carting, dining, events and stargazing experiences.

In the meantime, cat skiing — being transported up the mountain in a snow cat — will continue at Soho Basin until lifts and other facilities are installed.

While still in a state of euphoria, I contacted Soho about the possibility of sampling the slopes there later this month . . . and the answer was yes! So instead of skiing sedately along the Queenstown Return cat-track, I’ll be hooning off the edge of it, down those glorious slopes I’ve drooled over for years and back up again by snow-cat. Sounds awesome.

To learn more about the new Cardrona Soho Alpine Resort, visit the Cardrona Alpine Resort website at www.cardrona.com, and the Soho Ski Area website at www.sohobasin.com.

Justine Tyerman is so excited at the prospect of skiing at Soho Basin later this month, she’s even started climbing Kaiti Hill steps every day to get fit for the powder . . .

The last run of the day at Cardrona Alpine Resort has become something of a tradition for me. It’s a cruisy, scenic glide along the Queenstown Return cat-track which looks down on a beautiful expanse of wide open slopes and basins with magnificent snow- cover, bathed in late afternoon sunshine.

For decades, I’ve gazed longingly at this pristine terrain known as Soho Basin, praying one day the area would become part of the Cardrona field . . . hopefully before I got too decrepit to get on a pair of skis.

It made eminent sense to me because Soho is directly behind the existing Cardrona ski field, adjoining the resort’s southern boundary. It covers all the southern and south-west faces of Mt Cardrona, looking towards Queenstown and the Wakatipu Basin with row-upon-row of the Southern Alps as a backdrop. The panorama is just jaw-dropping.

Tantalising rumours of a chairlift being built on the Soho side of the mountain have come and gone over the years but it still came as a delicious, spine-tingling, scream-worthy surprise when the announcement came last month of a partnership between Real Journeys Group, the owners of Cardrona Alpine Resort, and Queenstown businessman John Darby who owns Soho Basin.

It seemed too good to be true, but after pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, there in black and white were the words all southern skiers had longed to hear. . . straight from the top.

Real Journeys group chief executive Richard Lauder said: “This has been something we’ve been looking at for some time and we’re both extremely pleased that we can work together to build a world class ski area with integrated facilities and amenities that will be both New Zealand’s largest mountain resort and a truly world-class ski destination.”
Soho Basin will add an additional 500ha of high altitude skiable terrain, effectively doubling the size of Cardrona to over 900ha of skiable terrain. That’s massive!

Access to Soho Basin will be from the top of McDougall’s Chondola, a $10 million Doppelmayr lift combining eight-person gondola cabins and six-seater chairs, installed last year before the winter season.
Soho Basin, part of Glencoe Station, was first acquired by John Darby over a decade ago.

“The diversity of the slopes in the Soho Basin make it an exceptional ski area for all levels of skiers,” said Mr Darby.

“Its high altitude, southerly-facing aspect means it receives and retains a good cover of early snow. And Soho offers spectacular views out over Queenstown, the Wakatipu Basin, and across the Main Divide,” he said.

“I’ve skied Soho Basin with friends and family for well over 20 fabulous winter seasons. With Cardrona, I’m now looking forward to opening up this same opportunity to the public. It’s a very special place and great care will be taken to preserve this wonderful alpine environment.”

Cardrona general manager Bridget Legnavsky could barely contain her glee (see the video of the announcement on our website): “To be a truly world-class alpine resort, you need to have extensive lift networks, multiple aspects and varying terrain — this new terrain and the developments that go with it will really make Cardrona an extraordinary experience in Aotearoa,” she said.

“We’re thrilled at this opportunity to continue creating epic experiences for all our people now, and into the future.”

Then came the reality check. While the partnership is a done deal, the actual development of the Soho field is a major project which will take a few years.

Development of the larger, integrated Cardrona-Soho Ski Area will be in accordance with the agreed masterplan for the combined ski areas. Cardrona is three years into a five-year development plan that has focused on preparing Cardrona for the Soho expansion by improving guest flow and capacity. This has included installation of the McDougall’s Chondola to increase uplift, the refurbishment and repurposing of the Base Area buildings, and expanded car parking with a connecting shuttle service.

All necessary approvals are now in place to commence the staged development of ski area facilities in the Soho Basin and work is expected to begin, once the current Cardrona master plan is completed.

The expansion also has implications for Cardrona’s summer operations, with the opportunity to grow further as New Zealand’s only mountain resort to offer a full summer of activities including mountain biking, mountain carting, dining, events and stargazing experiences.

In the meantime, cat skiing — being transported up the mountain in a snow cat — will continue at Soho Basin until lifts and other facilities are installed.

While still in a state of euphoria, I contacted Soho about the possibility of sampling the slopes there later this month . . . and the answer was yes! So instead of skiing sedately along the Queenstown Return cat-track, I’ll be hooning off the edge of it, down those glorious slopes I’ve drooled over for years and back up again by snow-cat. Sounds awesome.

To learn more about the new Cardrona Soho Alpine Resort, visit the Cardrona Alpine Resort website at www.cardrona.com, and the Soho Ski Area website at www.sohobasin.com.

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