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A guide to skiing in Wanaka

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Taking a gamble… sometimes it pays off, writes travel writer Justine Tyerman

Those magical words ‘Snow-To-Low-Levels’ create a kind of lunacy in keen skiers – they were all it took for us to jump on the Air NZ website, find some surprisingly-cheap airfares from Gisborne to Queenstown return, email our mates at Outside Sports to rent ski gear, contact JUCY Rentals to book a 4WD and call our daughter and her fiancé in Sydney to meet us for a long weekend in Wanaka.

We’ve often talked about heading south at a moment’s notice when the weather and snow conditions are perfect rather than booking months in advance and finding we’ve hit precisely the WRONG week. But until this year, we’ve never been brave, free and spontaneous enough to just do it.

Time was short so I came up with a hair-brained scheme whereby we would pick up the skis, boots, poles and helmets at the Wanaka Outside Sports shop and meet Sophie and Doug up at the mountain at Cardrona so we could cram in a half day’s skiing straight after they arrived. We had been dealing with Outside Sports for decades, way back when they were called Good Sports, but the likelihood of the shop having exactly the gear we needed including the right-sized boots without Sophie and Doug trying them on was a long shot… but worth a gamble.

Lottie And Henry At Outside Sports.

Lottie and Henry at Outside Sports.

However, not only had lovely Lottie and Henry retrieved the records of the last time we rented gear from the Queenstown shop two years previously, they had brand new equipment put aside for us. Super-efficient, super-friendly, super-equipment. It’s so nice to see the same faces in the shop year-after-year too – Kazu who sold me my first pair of Dynastars many years ago, Paul who doctors my boots every year to accommodate my bunions and smiley Jack, the funny rental guy.

We were out of there within 15 minutes and heading up the mountain with big grins on our faces… and slight feelings of trepidation over the fit of the boots especially for super-fussy Sophie.

Sophie And Doug All Geared Up And Ready To Ski.

Sophie and Doug all geared up and ready to ski.

When she slipped her feet into the boots and smiled, it was a promising sign. And when she was beaming after the first run, there was a huge sense of relief all round. Easy-to-please Doug was very happy with his brand new Langes so the rent-before-you-try gamble had paid off. They also rated the new Dynastars the best they had ever skied on. And the helmets and poles were a good fit too.

Our long weekend turned into four magnificent days’ skiing in primo snow and weather conditions with clear, sunny skies and no wind, and one misty, snowy day during which we did planning for Sophie and Doug’s wedding in Wanaka early next year. We even had a day of fresh, fluffy powder… bliss.

Perfect Snow And Weather Conditions At Cardrona Alpine Resort.

Perfect snow and weather conditions at Cardrona Alpine Resort.

We skied the entire mountain from boundary to boundary and everything in between. It had been years since we’d skied the Secret Shute on the extreme right of the mountain (looking up) and it was brilliant – untouched powder and the whole piste to ourselves.

We rode the ‘Chondy’, Cardrona’s smart new McDougall’s Express Chondola lift – a chair and gondola combo - to the top of the mountain, and sat in beanbags in the sun at the Vista Bar drinking bubbly to celebrate the upcoming wedding.

A Perfect Day At Cardrona Alpine Resort -Chris And Justine On The Queenstown Return Run.

A perfect day at Cardrona Alpine Resort -Chris and Justine on the Queenstown Return run.

Our last run was the gentle scenic Queenstown Return and Skyline along the left boundary with spectacular views of the Southern Alps, the Wakatipu Basin and my childhood holiday home, Arrowtown.

In the summer, we’ll rent some bikes from Outside Sports and take the new Aussie in-laws on a cycle tour of Wanaka. They’ve never been there before so they are in for a real treat!

Image credits: Justine Tyerman

Story credits: http://www.oversixty.co.nz/travel/domestic-travel/2017/09/a-guide-to-skiing-in-wanaka/

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Cardrona Alpine Resort, Wanaka, wins the vote…


The conversation, standing by the outside fire at the Cardrona pub drinking tummy-warming gluhwein and feasting on wedges with naughty sour cream, went something like this.

Should we have our fourth consecutive day at Cardrona… or ski somewhere else?

We knew the snow cover at Cardrona was phenomenal, the weather pattern was stable and there would be no melt-factor overnight because it was freezing cold… so the whole mountain would be just as perfect the next day as it was the previous three.

Skiing in Cardrona

Perfect snow and weather conditions at Cardrona Alpine Resort

A perfect day at Cardrona Alpine Resort 
© Cardrona Alpine Resort

There was a bit of dissention in the ranks and the words ‘variety’ and ‘challenge’ were bandied around a few times but by the second gluhwein and plate of wedges, the vote was for Cardrona.

The consensus was: why take a risk when you know the whole mountain will be groomed to perfection with acres of squeaky corduroy, there will be no sheets of ice, the sun will be shining from a cloudless day, the chorizo on the pizza at Captains Cafe will be crispy, the cider will be chilled and refreshing, the lifties will be friendly and funny, offering sunblock to everyone… and you will have FUN.

The reward for our faithfulness was a couple of god-sent inches of fluffy, light powder from a quick southerly change that blew in from heaven overnight and had vanished by morning.

Such conditions create a degree of madness in skiers and snowboarders. The whole mountain had a grin on its face – including the pink elephant in the lift queue.

Skiing in Cardrona New Zealand

You see some strange sights on a bluebird day at Cardrona

We had timed our trip to perfection. It was the lead-up to the Winter Games so while we travelled up the Whitestar Express we were entertained by the world’s top skiers and snowboarders practising heart-stopping, death-defying aerials in the terrain park directly below us.

Skiing in Cardrona New Zealand
The world’s top skiers and snowboarders competing at the Jossi Wells Invitational at Cardrona. 
© Cardrona Alpine Resort

The world’s top skiers and snowboarders competing at the Jossi Wells Invitational at Cardrona. 
© Cardrona Alpine Resort

They never seemed to fall despite the flips and twirls they executed at great height and speed.

One day, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.

Overnight, an Audi Quattro had appeared in a triangular perspex case just below the top terminal of the Whitestar Express.

Snowboarders were leaping over it and scooting along a bar at the apex of the triangle, whooping with glee. Everyone was intrigued by how the vehicle got there. A brilliant promo for Audi, the sponsors of the games.

A competitor at the Winter Games skiing across the top of the top of the Audi Quattro 
© Cardrona Alpine Resort

We witnessed la crème de la crème of skiers and snowboarders but did not have to battle the crowds that were due to descend on the region the following week. We had primo weather too… and they did not.

The long weekend was something of a first for us, the only time we have ever dared to take a risk and wait until the conditions were perfect before heading south rather than planning months in advance.

As soon as we heard those magical words: Snow-To-Low-Levels, we jumped on the Air NZ website, found some seriously-cheap airfares from Gisborne to Queenstown return, emailed JUCY Rentals to book us a 4WD with chains and a roof-rack, rented gear from Outside Sports and called our daughter and her fiancé in Sydney to meet us for a long weekend in Wanaka.

They managed to get even cheaper airfares and got to Queenstown before us on a direct flight from Sydney.

Chris with our 4WD JUCY Rental – ready to go!

Skiing in Cardrona New Zealand
Skiing in Cardrona New Zealand

Winter sunrise at Lake Wanaka

We skied the entire mountain from boundary to boundary and everything in between. It had been years since we’d skied the Secret Shute on the extreme right of the mountain (looking up) and it was brilliant – untouched powder and the whole piste to ourselves.

And our last run each day was the scenic Queenstown Return and Skyline track along the extreme left boundary with spectacular views of the Southern Alps, the Wakatipu Basin and my childhood holiday home, Arrowtown.

Riding Cardrona’s new Chondola lift

Just for fun, we rode the ‘Chondy’, Cardrona’s smart new McDougall’s Express Chondola lift – a chair and gondola combo – to the top of the mountain, and sat in beanbags in the sun at the Vista Bar.

Skiing in Cardrona

Cardrona’s new Chondola, a gondola-chairlift combo – in operation 
© Cardrona Alpine Resort

Skiing in Cardrona New Zealand

Cardrona’s new Chondola, a gondola-chairlift combo – in operation 
© Cardrona Alpine Resort

We even had a glass of Mumm to toast Sophie and Doug’s engagement. It looked and felt like somewhere in the European Alps. We reminisced about the 35 or so years we had skied at Cardrona and the gentle slopes where our two little girls had learned to ski. Sophie was purring with pride to show off her mountain to her Sydney fiancé who graciously conceded Kiwi snow was far superior to Aussie snow.

These days, there’s a sophisticated new bar called The Lounge by the clock tower where you can sit outside and have drinks on a deck or ski in for coffee at the slope-side window.

Cardrona has certainly changed over the years we’ve skied there but it’s still the friendliest, safest of resorts where the philosophy seems to be to streamline things for skiers, snowboarders and tourists, not create obstacles or challenges.

Skiing in Cardrona New Zealand

In skiers’ heaven – fresh snow and sunshine at Cardrona

Skiing in Cardrona New Zealand

Bria and Luke, the friendly lifties at Cardrona’s Whitestar Express. Love those T-shirts

Skiing in Cardrona New Zealand

Cardrona is all about fun. 
Staff member Kelly Spiers entertaining kids in her Cardrona Loves You 
© Cardrona Alpine Resort

The latest T-shirt says it all: Cardrona Loves You.

As per usual we booked our trip with www.cardrona.com, www.outsidesports.co.nz, www.jucy.co.nz, www.airnz.com

Flying out of Queenstown

Flying in and out of Queenstown is breath-taking. Beneath the wing is Aorangi-Mt Cook and the Southern Alps.

mage credits: Justine Tyerman

Story credits: https://travelmemo.com/australia/new-zealand/cardrona-alpine-resort-chondola-wanaka

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April Wrap Up

April Wrap Up

by Reuben Thompson- Ambassador

After competing at the national triathlon champs at the end of March I now put my focus into riding for a month and doing some really competitive bike racing. These races were the Tour De Lakes and the Te Awamutu Junior Tour. The Tour De Lakes is a four day tour with two stages per day except day one. I was racing in A Grade and thought I was in to get my butt kicked.

Day one was a criterion in Cromwell, 30 mins plus 3 laps. I raced from the front the whole race although Matt Zenovich broke away to take the win and the first intermediate sprint. At 15 minutes there was a sprint and I won the bunch sprint for the points. I felt great and was waiting for the fast guys to up the pace but I was in the mix the whole time at the front. In the final sprint I positioned myself really bad but managed to take 3rd from the bunch sprint and put myself into 4th on the stage and overall. I was also sitting second on sprint points.

The following morning started with an 82km road race from the Remarkables to Five Rivers. At the start of the race I had a team mate up the road in a three man breakaway so I sat at the front controlling the pace to try and let him get away. Unfortunately for my team mate we caught him and one of his breakaway companions whilst the other stayed out for the intermediate sprint. I lead the bunch sprint to get second in the intermediate sprint. The bunch then sat up for a wee bit before another break went with a teammate of mine in it again. They got the KOM points and stuck all the way to the finish for Tim Rush to take out the stage. The main bunch then split up on Jolly’s Hill but five of us got away from the rest. I rolled through in that group of five about 30 seconds down on the breakaway. I was now sitting in 5th on GC 30 seconds back on first place. A quick lunch and we were off on another 80km stage from Five Rivers too Manapouri. Matt Zenovich and Tim Rush really ramped up the pace into a ferocious crosswind ripping the bunch apart. I was two wheels from making the vital break of five men. I was left in between the main bunch and the break in a three man group. The break got away and we got left straggling before the bunch caught us. The race was neutralized because of the winds and in amongst all of the chaos stuff happened and all the riders in the bunch got handicapped because the breakaway continued racing. I was also given a penalty that put me back to the bunch behind ours at 17 minutes back putting me out of all contention on general classification.


The following day was a time trial which I took easy to save my energy for the following stages. Sunday afternoon was another 80km stage from Te Anau to Five Rivers and the break went reasonably early and the bunch was happy to just roll the whole stage before bringing the break back in the final five km before a sprint finish. This stage was great because it was really just a two hour spin out of the legs and I rolled in 5th on the stage. Monday morning presented itself with the Coronet Peak climb. I hit the base of the climb reasonably hard for the first kilometre before some other riders tried to up the pace. The pace started to slow so I attacked and went solo for 500 odd meters before being caught by the three riders that were left in the bunch. I rode on the front keeping the pace high before we hit the steepest pitch of the mountain with about 2.5km to go. I went hard into the pitch dropping Matt Zenovich. It was just Tim Rush left to beat and the stage was mine. At the top of the steep pitch where it flattened out I ramped up the pace again and rode solo from there to the finish. I put 17 seconds into Tim and 29 into Matt. I was awarded the most aggressive rider on the stage and the James Faulding Memorial Trophy.

The final stage was a lumpy 42km from Glenorchy to Moke Lake. In the first 5km a break was established with two of my teammates in it. Again I sat at the front controlling the pace so they could get away. They took out a big lead and placed 2nd and 3rd on the stage. I felt in control on all of the hills and gave it a nudge on the climb out of Wilson’s bay. Tim Rush came with me and we left the rest of the bunch behind. On the downhill on the other side Matt Zenovich and Josh Haggerty bridged across to us. On the final climb up Moke Lake road I felt good but got a bit confused on where the finish line was and left it too late and Matt Zenovich jumped around to take 4th and I placed 5th. 

I then put in some more final training before heading up to Cambridge to participate in the Te Awamutu Junior Tour.

This was a three stage tour across two days. Day 1 had a 9km Individual Time Trial and a 54km Road Race. The time trial went okay for me. I finished in 12th. Stage 2 I went off the front with one other rider and we contested for the sprint points as we rode through the first intermediate sprint. I got second the first time around before the bunch reeled us in again. For the second intermediate sprint I went solo about 8km before the sprint and got a gap out to around 45 seconds to get all the points before being reeled in yet again. I then tried my luck to get away again a few times but this times nothing sticking. I rolled through the finish with the front group and went into the sprinters green jersey with a 3 point lead. The final stage was an 86km road race over a very hilly course. Around 6km in an attack went over the top of one of the main climbs getting a break of about 10 boys. I picked up third on the first of the three intermediate sprints. As we continued on the hills boys were slowly dropping off including my main competition for the green jersey. On the second intermediate sprint I picked up second and needed one more second place to secure the jersey.

Then at the base of a hill I dropped my chain and it got caught underneath my chain catcher.

This meant I had to stop and get off my bike to get it out before continuing. I jumped on and chased my hardest but we were only 8km from the final sprint and the pace in the front group was high. I got caught by the main group 10km or so from the finish and at this point I was very tired. I had one last go at the end but this was unsuccessful and I rolled through in the main bunch. The front group had split up and the time gaps were reasonably big so the top three from the break were the top on general classification at the end of the stage. Was really disappointing for me because it meant I missed out on a potential top 5 on GC and the sprint jersey. I finished 9th out from the 59 boys who raced.


I have also received the exciting news that I will be making the move to Cambridge on July 23rd to board at St Peters School. This move will be great for my training as well as my education.

The school is stacked with facilities that will help me thrive as an athlete and student. I really can’t wait. 


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An interview with Nico Porteous

Nico Porteous

New Zealand seems to breed talented skiers and snowboarders from a young age and Nico Porteous is on the right track to becoming a household name in freestyle skiing. This local Wanaka boy who has been picked up by big brands such as Redbull, GoPro, and Atomic Skis is blowing into the scene and achieving some amazing things. Last season he became the youngest skier to ever land a triple cork 1440 which really put him on the map and with more big goals he has a bright future ahead. We are very excited to bring Nico on as an Outside Sports ambassador as a very talented and friendly young man. Have a read of our interview with Nico below…

Nico Porteous

An interview with Nico Porteous

interviewed by Elmo Cotter

Name:   Nico Porteous

Age:  15

Home:  Wanaka NZ

School:  Te Kura Correspondence School

What do you do for fun?  Skiing, Snowboarding, MTB, and Skateboarding


Your killing it with your skiing, tell us a bit about how you got into it and where it has taken you.

Oh gee thanks. I had my first taste of skiing on a family holiday when I was 4, and I was hooked, but it was pretty hard not to be when I have an older brother to try and keep up with. I really got into it about 6 years ago and started to spend time in the Northern Hemisphere competeing in the American Competitions.  This year was my first year competing at World Cup level in Ski Half Pipe.


Where do you ski mostly and what are your favourite runs?

Cardrona is my home mountain and it’s where I spend most of my winter days.


You were the youngest person to land the triple cork 1440 last season, that’s pretty huge! What are your goals for the season?

The Winter Games are happening this year with the Half Pipe event taking place up at Cardrona. It’s my first Winter Games and the 1st WC for the 2017/18 season. I’d really like to just come out skiing well and put in a couple of new tricks that I’ve learnt over the last couple of months.


What’s your ultimate goal, where do you want to be one day?

The ultimate goal would be to win a medal at the 2022 Bejing Winter Olympics and podium at X Games.


Do you spend much time in NZ during summer too or just chasing winters now?

Unfortunately I don’t get to see any of the NZ summer at the moment but that is something I can look forward to later on.


I see you have got yourself a new Specialized Enduro, what made you interested in mountain riding?

I’ve always liked biking and when I was young and lived in Chch we used to regularly go to Bottle Lake for a ride. One year I was at a summer ski camp in Whistler and after skiing I used to watch the guys biking and always thought it looked so much fun.


How’s the new bike?

I’m absolutely stoked with it – it’s sooo cool.


Where is your favourite place to ride and do you have a favourite trail?

Sticky Forest and my favourite trails would be Dizzy Turns or Bilantis


Who are your biggest role models?

My brother Miguel, James “Woodsy” Woods (a British Slopestyle skier, and another avid MTB’er) and the Wells brothers.


What are the Top 3 things on your Bucket List right now?

Going to watch a Summer X Games

Being in Whistler when Crankworx is on and experiencing powder skiing in Japan.


Thanks to/shout outs?

It goes without saying that my Mum and Dad have to be at the top of the list – they’re always supporting me and make big sacrifices so I can do what I do.  Tommy Pyatt my coach has been with me since the beginning and of course my great team of sponsors : Redbull, GoPro, Atomic, Planks Clothing, Giro Snow, Cardrona, SSNZ and of course Specialized NZ and the crew at Outside Sports Wanaka.

Watch Nico land his triple cork 1440 here:

Nicos’ “Superunknown” video edit from 2015

Follow him on Instagram:



Follow him on Facebook:




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7hours of 7mile Enduro – QMTBC Fundraiser

7hours of 7mile Enduro – QMTBC Fundraiser

by Elmo Cotter

The 7hours of 7mile was an iconic Queenstown local mountain bike race that started in 2008 and ran in 2009, 11, and 14, but came to an end due to lack of time and resources to keep it going. After a conversation with Tony ‘T.Man’ Moore and some other local riders, I stared to think it could be something with enough enthusiasm around it to be worth resurrecting. Looking at the bike calendar I saw Queenstown was lacking a social Enduro event like this so decided to see if we could make it happen. Outside Sports, being a key company that funded the development of the 7mile bike park along with the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club back in 2003, was keen to get behind the event and fund the costs of putting it together. So away we went.


The 8th of April looked like the best date, putting it at the tail end of the bike season. The event in past had always had a fun and social focus rather than being a super competitive event and we wanted this event culture to remain strong. With over $10k in prizes donated by various local businesses, the prize list was stacked with all sorts of things from a Heli-bike trip for 5 with Fat-Tyre bike tours, to Icebreaker Merino clothing, to Devil Burger Vouchers – meaning we were able to create a tonne of prize categories. 


With 60 registered riders the 8th came around and it was time to hit the trails. We were blessed by the weather gods with a beautiful sunny autumn day and with the great weather came 37 more keen entrants to make a field of 97 riders of all ages and abilities.

We wouldn’t have considered this event a success without some great costumes and the riders did not disappoint.

There were people in retro lycra race suits, Hawaiian shirts, covered in glitter, and the team ‘In Victorius IL Trio 7 Milus’ dressed in knights’ armour while riding their noble steeds. The festive vibe was strong and everyone was there with smiles on.

To kick off the race, one member of each team removed their front wheel and placed it by their bike for the group start. Then, with a 3-2-1-GO, the riders ran in a mob around the car park and back to their bikes where they had to put their wheel in before taking off on the track – an effective way of spacing out the crowd. The course took a loop throughout the 7mile Bike Park that went backwards up some downhill trails, through a variety of existing trails, and cut some new lines on untracked ground to make an exciting loop full of varying terrain. The trail had technical sections with roots and rocks, tight switchbacks, flowy jumpy downhills and some loose loamy zones to make for a varied course to put everyone’s overall skills to the test.


One of the individual riders, Richard Dunnett, was the first to complete the first loop and powered through for his second as everyone cheered him on. Riders came flying through the transition area, ripping skids in front of the timing tent and tagging their mates in, or pedalling on for another lap. A good turnout of spectators and support crew cheered everyone on and music played at the lakefront making for an exciting transition zone. The trails were quite dry so by midday the track was getting dusty, corners were being roosted and new hot lines where popping up which kept things exciting. 


As the sun rose higher in the sky it was about time to get something into the riders and spectators bellies. Life’s a Grind coffee caravan and the Taco Medic truck provided some high quality sustenance for riders and spectators, and the Pick Me Lick M eice block stand was treat for those needing to cool down a bit. Outside Sports also put on a BBQ for the riders to keep them trucking through the day. BikeshopDan from Outside Sports was on hand with his bike stand ready to fix any issues the day but with only a few minor fixes he ended up manning the BBQ most of the day. Got to feed the people!


With 1 hour to go it was time for riders to get on the gas again and pump out their final laps with what energy was left. Several teams and individuals had stopped riding to enjoy the sunset while the keen riders gained a few extra laps to try and get themselves ahead enough for the podium. 


Just as the shade came down on Wilson’s bay, it was 5pm and the race was done with!

The final riders came out of the forest, knackered, but with smiles on their faces and ready for a drink. 

The last of the sun shone on the hills in the background making for a spectacular backdrop to the prize giving


After the placing prizes there was still a huge amount of spot prizes including; best dressed, team spirit, biggest air, good sort of the day, hard done by, most stylish bike, best marshal, and one of the entrants (Brenna) even ended up jumping in the cold autumn lake for a free hand gliding trip!

With prize giving wrapped up and the day done with, riders headed to Atlas Beer Caféfor a well-deserved beer.

With $2910 raised for the club and everyone smiling by the end of the day, it really felt like a great success and something we hope to do again next year.


1st Individual men’s - Richard Dunnet who also had the fastest lap of the day with a time of 18.25

2nd Individual men’s – Marty Macdonald

3rd –individual men’s - Louis Bronstein


No women’s individuals - take note for next year!


1st Men’s team –Rebel food (Martin, Grant, Matt, Brent)

2nd Men’s team – Bikaholic (Justin, Matt)


1st Women’s team – The screaming marmots (Susan, Sharyn, Merrin)

2nd Women’s team – Back Flag (Aimee, Meagan)

1st Mixed team – Team Blank (Alex, Michelle, Marty)

2nd Mixed team – Menagerie (T.man, Neil, Mandy)



Thanks to everyone that came along, all our incredible volunteers, our generous sponsors, and everyone else that helped make this a fantastic day.


Thanks to all our prize sponsors:

Outside Sports

Fat Tyre Adventures






Mons Royale

Thunder Jet

Atlas Beer Café



Southern Discoveries

Remarkable Women’s Health and Fitness Centre

Welcome Rock Trails

Queenstown Rafting

Alta Queenstown


Select Action Sports

Aj Hacket Bunji

Shotover Canyon Swing and Fox

Devil Burger

Spoke Magazine

The North Face

Mitre10 Mega Queenstown

New World Queenstown


Altitude Brewery

The Lone Star

Rebel Food

Big Night Out

Taco Medic

Site Trampoline

Around The Mountains Cycle Trail


Film by: Paul Rayner

Photos by: Thomas Whelan, Lance brown

Words by: Elmo Cotter



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