Cardrona announces Soho Basin lift access by winter 2025

by Kim Bowden - Dec 14, 2023

Construction is set to begin on a six-seater, high-speed chairlift that will open up the Soho Basin to more skiers and snowboarders by winter 2025.

Cardrona Alpine resort made the long-awaited announcement this morning, in a statement to media.

At 150 hectares, the Soho Basin’s skiable terrain is the equivalent of 150 rugby fields.

The new lift will increase the ski resort's lift-accessed skiable terrain by 24 percent, taking to from 465 hectares to 615 hectares and making it the biggest commercial ski area in New Zealand.

Cardrona says construction of the new lift will begin this coming summer.

Foundations for what will be called the 'Soho Basin Express', a Doppelmayr six-seater chairlift, will start in February, with the towers and stations installed the following summer between December 2024 and May 2025.

The lift is due to be completed in time for the 2025 winter season.

It will not be the only construction project underway at the resort.

Over the next couple of years there are plans to upgrade other facilities to prepare for the influx of extra guests opening up the Soho will allow.

This summer, the Valley View carpark will be extended, and the on-mountain rentals department will be upgraded.

And, it won't stop there, Cardrona and Treble Cone experiences general manager Laura Hedley says in today's media statement. 

"We’ll be upgrading our snowmaking, food and beverage, retail, and other car parking offerings to make sure we continue to deliver a great experience at Cardrona with the addition of Soho Basin."

The Soho Basin will open up an area similar in size to, and directly behind, Captain’s Basin.

For users familiar with the terrain, it is the massive area directly below the resort’s existing 'Queenstown Return' trail.

According to Cardrona, the Soho area will have "a mix of playful intermediate terrain alongside more technical, advanced lines – plenty for confident skiers and snowboarders to explore".

Ms Hedley says new skiable terrain in New Zealand is incredibly rare.

"We’re so stoked to finally be able to give people the news they want...We can’t wait to ride Soho and share it with all of you – it’s just so good.” 

Extension into the Soho Basin was first flagged in 2018, when Cardrona announced a partnership between the resort and Queenstown developer John Darby.

Ms Hedley says there's been "a challenging few years" in between, but now the business is in a position to continue with its vision to open up the new terrain.

Doppelmayr New Zealand, the company behind the bigger new gondolas Skyline successfully installed this year to move visitors up Queenstown's Bob's Peak, will be working with Cardrona on the Soho Basin Express.

In a statement to media today, the company says the new Cardrona lift will be able to transport up to 3,000 people per hour to the top of the Soho Basin.

Main image (Supplied): Construction of a new six-seater, high-speed chairlift is set to begin this summer at Cardrona Alpine Resort, opening up fresh terrain to more skiers by winter 2025.


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