Cardrona Alpine Resort announced the new Pringles Chairlift in 2018 for launch in the 2019 season. However the chairlift which was to access new advanced terrain below Captain’s Basin was postponed before the 2019 winter with plans for a 2020 launch.
The Pringles Quad has been part of a major upcycling project with Doppelmayr, taking the old McDougall’s Quad (replaced with the Chondola in 2016) and upgrading it to bring up to modern standards.
However the site of the proposed chairlift is actually home to some of the nation’s rarest lizards, including the nationally vulnerable Orange-spotted gecko and Lakes skink species.
The lizards were discovered whilst surveying the proposed footprint of the Pringles Quad chairlift. The resort released a statement today revealing that “a significant effort was made by the Cardrona team, working closely with scientists and DOC, to create a plan that would mitigate any potential impact on the lizard species caused by the lift construction.”
An area within Cardrona Alpine Resort has now been declared by the Department of Conservation (DOC) as a nationally significant site for alpine lizards, with “the highest diversity of lizards known on the New Zealand mainland”.
Cardrona continued work throughout 2019 with one of New Zealand’s leading herpetologists on a detailed study of the population and a Lizard Management Plan. Once confident that the impact on the lizards could be mitigated, Cardrona sought authorisation with DOC under the Wildlife Act.
But because of the high significance of the area and the lizard species involved, DOC has made the decision to not approve the Wildlife Act Authorisation.
This means the Pringles Quad chairlift will not be installed at Cardrona.
“Though we are very disappointed we will not be able to install the Pringles lift, we support the position DOC has taken to protect these rare and endangered lizards” said Bridget Legnavsky Cardrona Alpine Resorts Ltd General Manager in the statement released today.
The resort has surveyed other lift locations and is looking to repurpose the lift on a different a site.
“We are carefully considering our options to prioritise the lift’s installation in a strategic way for our future lift network. We are working hard to have this lift installed for Winter 2021.”
As for the highly-anticipated, advanced level Pringles terrain – this will be patrolled terrain in 2020 as part of a “slackcountry” experience for advanced skiers and snowboarders. The gates will be opened when snow and weather conditions allow.