Cardrona Valley gondola project approved
New Zealand's first gondola to service a ski resort has been given the green light.
The Lee family of the Cardrona Valley, between Queenstown and Wanaka, has been given approval to build a $16.6 million gondola to access their existing ski and snowboard operations, Snow Park NZ and Waiorau Snow Farm, and a third planned ski area, Roaring Meg Resort, all on the Pisa Range (the range opposite Cardrona Ski Resort).
The 3.8km-long gondola will ascend 975 vertical metres from the Cardrona Valley floor to the ski facilities on the Pisa Range. It will transport up to 1000 people per hour in gondola cars each holding eight passengers.
image of the proposed gondola base station
In their decision, commissioners Jane Taylor and Christine Kelly said the proposal would provide "unique, safe and efficient" access between a special ski area planning zone and the Cardrona Valley Road.
"Overall, we conclude that while the proposal does not support the landscape policies and objectives of the district plan, it is not opposed or repugnant to the objectives and policies of the plan overall," the decision said.
"We do not find the development to be inappropriate in this location."
Conditions attached to the decision, agreed to by the Lee family, demand public walking tracks be developed around the top gondola station and across the valley. The plans will now include the creation of an ecological walk around the top gondola station and to link with the Thouy's Gully DOC track, information cards in each of the gondola cars educating passengers about the history and important ecological sites along the gondola path and to allow the Cardrona Valley trail connecting Cardrona township to Wanaka crossing the Lee family property.
image of the proposed top station
A thrilled Sam Lee, operations manager for One Black Merino, the parent company for Waiorau Snow Farm and Snow Park NZ, said he was handed the consent at 4pm yesterday.
After a nervous 20-month wait, he said he was looking forward to a drink.
"I'm stoked. I'm over the moon."
This is a landmark decision for the future of snow holidays in New Zealand said Sam Lee Snow Park NZ manager. “We have world class facilities available and can now deliver the whole package to ensure safety, ease of passage and an enjoyable mountain experience to our visitors. It is immensely important we can develop not only the ski fields but the means of access to them. There are so many benefits, we are thrilled,” he said.
The gondola's approval paves the way for a $120 million development of a 300ha area, including a new downhill skifield and on-site accommodation for up to 200 people.
Lee's dream was for "the Disneyland of Kiwi ski resorts".
"We're looking for a partner to come to the table with some skill sets we currently don't have, needed for this development - we want someone who's done it before," he said. He hoped the gondola would be built within six years.
The masterplan for the Roaring Meg Resort development would take one or two years and might not be finished for 20 years. Asked if his family intended to remain involved in any planned resort, Lee replied: "It would be pretty hard for us to let go of the Cardrona Valley and what we have done so far."
The gondola, as proposed, would easily cope with the 50,000 visitors attracted to Snow Park and Snow Farm each winter season, he said.
The proposed 300-hectare Roaring Meg Resort will offer downhill skiing and an expansive beginners’ area. With five chairlifts and the longest run covering 1800m the resort will exponentially add to the freestyle and cross country snow sports already on offer.
Aerial view of Snowpark NZ, one of 2 existing areas (along with Waiorau Snow Farm) managed by the Lee Family
Meanwhile, Snowline Holdings Ltd development manager Richard Hanson said his company, which applied for a gondola at Treble Cone ski area, was still working on issues raised by commissioners hearing the proposal.
source DAVID WILLIAMS - The Press | 14-15 May 2008, infonews.co.nz