Around 1,800 people flocked to Cardrona Alpine Resort for opening day last Friday, with 1,600 getting out on the snow on Saturday. General manager Bridget Legnavsky told the Wānaka Sun this was “on a par” with last year. Opening weekend is usually a “local community” event, before the majority of school holidays get started and out-of-town visitors begin to arrive in Wānaka this coming weekend.
Hundreds of people gathered around Cardrona’s lounge cafe to catch a glimpse of Prime Minister Jacina Ardern, who was welcomed with a traditional Māori welcome, a kapa haka performed by Mount Aspiring College students and a waiata from Te Kura O Take Kārara primary school children.
Ardern expressed her appreciation for “all of the work” that had gone into making Cardrona “a safe place,” and encouraged people from all over New Zealand to visit the Queenstown Lakes district, which has been hit hard by the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We as a nation are going through a tough time,” she said. “Now I’m asking everyone to do the horrible, horrible task of coming to beautiful places like this.”
Tourism minister Kelvin Davis, Mayor Jim Boult and Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Mike Theelen also attended the day, which was followed by Ardern and Davis’ announcement of a central government partnership with Queenstown - which they said would help unlock around $300 million of projects and create about 320 direct jobs - and funding for the Queenstown town centre development project, to “invest in areas that need it most.”
Legnavsky said it was a good weekend at both Cardrona and Treble Cone (TC) resorts, with 1,000 people attending the TC opening day on Saturday. There were reports of limited snow coverage from visitors, however, and Legnavsky said it was a “pity” that poor weather on Sunday made for a quieter day and forced TC to close again on Monday due to insufficient snow.
She remained confident that, looking at the snow forecast ahead, they would be able to rebuild the trails and get them back in condition to reopen by the weekend at the latest.
“Hopefully, we’ll get some good snow out of it for when the visitors arrive,” she said.
Read edition 981 of the Wānaka Sun here.