$10m 'chondola' for Cardrona

An artist’s impression of the new ‘‘chondola’’ planned for the Cardrona Alpine Resort between...
An artist’s impression of the new ‘‘chondola’’ planned for the Cardrona Alpine Resort between Wanaka and Queenstown. Image: supplied.
A new $10 million lift featuring both chairs and gondola cabins is planned for  Cardrona Alpine Resort.

The "chondola", featuring one gondola cabin for every four chairs, will be  a first for New Zealand and will more than double the field’s lift capacity between the base buildings and the top of the skifield.

Resort general manager Bridget Legnavsky yesterday called it a game-changer for the New Zealand ski industry.‘‘Cardrona has already made the move to take people to the top of the mountains across all seasons.

"We are confident [the lift] will become one of the iconic summer rides in the region," Ms Legnavsky said.

Each chair will seat six people and each gondola cabin eight.

It is planned to have the new lift operating in time for next year’s  winter season.

Ms Legnavsky said the lift would provide access to  the whole mountain.

"From the top of McDougalls, they can access the mellow Skyline trail with spectacular views of Queenstown and the Southern Alps, or New Zealand’s longest beginner trail, A Real Journey, at 3.2km long," Ms Legnavsky said.

Unlike the existing McDougalls lift installed in 1985, chairs and gondola cabins will be detachable, allowing them to be slowed for loading and unloading, and allowing skiers and snowboarders to walk into and out of the gondola cabins.

The access point for the lift will be closer to the base building than it is for the existing lift.

The gondola cabins and chairs will be stored in the lift’s top station, and the layout of the lift can be reconfigured to suit different weather conditions.

In a statement yesterday, Norbert Feuerstein, of Doppelmayr Austrias, said the lift was the solution to a problem.

"Cardrona approached me with a unique problem to solve.

"They needed a high speed lift for all mountain users, regardless of ability.

"The solution was a mix of gondola cabins and chairs that they can customise depending on weather and other requirements."



10  cabins, 40  chairs.

• Gondola cabins hold 8 people, chairs hold 6.

• 3.5min travel time from base area to top of the mountain.

• 7 towers. The current McDougalls Quad has 11 towers.

• Uphill capacity 2550 people per hour compared with 1000 at present.

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