Recap: Resort Opening Weekend in Wanaka

First chairs, mountaintop breakfasts, corduroy cruisers and maybe a few monoski sightings. Opening weekend 2020 had it all. 

Photos by Michael Bollen

Every year, skiers and snowboarders anxiously await their first turns of the season at Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone Ski Area; the low hum of engines sparking to life, the slow lug forward of the chairs. It’s the signal that winter is here, and that skiing has begun. The beautiful thing about opening day in Wanaka is that it doesn’t matter how much snow there is, the stoke is ever-present.

The anticipation

After some early season snowfall, town was buzzing with excitement for the opening of Cardrona on June 26th and Treble Cone on the 27th. It’s the first year that the dual mountains will be operating as a single unit, meaning more terrain and more choice.

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Let the chairlift spin

Cardrona’s opening day on the Friday began in epic New Zealand style – with one of our jaw-dropping sunrises over the Southern Alps. Those who had beat the lines and queued for the first chair at 4am were rewarded for their ambition with a sunrise that you can only get in the Southern Alps.

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Then, at 8:30am sharp, it was game on. The crowd cheered as the barricades came down and the lifties bopped to tunes, loading the first chairs with beaming skiers and snowboarders. For those who like a little grip in their turns, the first few laps were gloriously carve-worthy. And for soft snow enthusiasts, the spring-like conditions of the late morning and early afternoon were loads of fun. 

Lapping & a visit from the PM

It was non-stop lapping all day, pausing only for the mid-morning arrival of none other than Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. A crowd gathered in the warm sun and cheered in the Prime Minister as she made her way to the base of the mountain. After a short address, during which she praised the efforts of everyone who made opening day possible, the PM made her way up the mountain in McDougall’s Chondola to take in the views for herself.

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On to Treble Cone

The only thing that made Cardrona’s opening day even more sweet, was the anticipation of getting to do it all again, the very next day at Treble Cone.

Eager to get as far above the inversion layer as possible, the first chair of skiers and boarders at Treble Cone on Saturday morning made their way up to the very top of the summit. The views from TC are world-famous for a reason… but we’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Cruising down the highway

From there, it was endless laps on Easy Rider, the wide open groomed run that snakes down under the chairlift at TC.

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Welcome back

As the DJ spun music on the deck, local bubbles were passed round. It felt like the community was back together, as old friends greeted one another and welcomed each other back to the ski fields.

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All-in-all, a successful opening weekend on the mountains in Wanaka. Now all that’s left to do is pray to the snow gods for even more of the good stuff! See you on the slopes!

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