Cardrona skifield applies to build in Soho wetland

Cardrona skifield. The Queenstown/Wanaka area is the top region in the country for winter...
Cardrona skifield. Photo: ODT files
Cardrona Alpine Resort has this week applied for a suite of resource consents so it can build new ski trails, snow-making infrastructure and a water storage dam, within a regionally significant wetland area in the Soho Basin.

Consents are required from the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Otago Regional Council.

An application to the QLDC for non-notified consents was lodged on Monday, April 8 by the skifield’s parent company, Real NZ Ltd.

Lizards have halted a chairlift installation at the Cardrona skifield in the past.

It has been estimated about 6.4ha of the Soho Basin lizard habitat will be affected by the new ski trail and storage dam development.

But according to Real NZ’s assessment of environmental effects (AEE), which was signed off by Real NZ’s consents and concessions manager Gareth Clarke, the ski area now has a lizard management programme.

The lizard population is much higher than previously thought, so overall adverse effect on the habitat is likely to be no more than minor, the AEE states.

QLDC consent is needed for earthworks, clearance of vegetation, including indigenous vegetation, and an increased number of permitted helicopter flights during the project.

The skifield development is taking place in a ski area sub zone of the rural zone under the QLDC’s proposed district plan.

The proposed activities are classified as either "restricted discretionary" or "discretionary", because they breach various rules governing the maximum number of permitted flights in the area, vegetation clearance within 20m of a water body and in an alpine environment, and exceed earthworks standards.

The proposed earthworks will have a volume of 173,242cu m, whereas the rural zone standard is a maximum volume of 1000cu m within a year.

ORC consent is required because the water storage dam would be placed within a regionally significant wetland in the Soho Basin.

The ORC is responsible for National Environment Standards for Freshwater, which came into effect in 2023.

None of the intended work can begin until ORC approvals are in place.

Real NZ is seeking non-notified consent because it says there are no affected neighbours and overall, the application can be treated as discretionary.