Understanding the peaks better with Snowsat

Cardrona is investing in a sustainable future


The quality of the slopes is crucial for any ski resort wanting to offer its guests a world-class experience. Like any resort, Cardrona Alpine Resorts Ltd. in New Zealand has had to confront the issue of how to make the most efficient and effective use of their most important resource, snow. The answer came with SNOWsat.



Challenging journey to sustainable slope operations “We came to snowmaking late in the game, installing our first system in 2006”, explains Erik Barnes, Manager Infrastructure & Operations at Cardrona Alpine Resorts Ltd. The resort conducted a critical review of operations back in 2014. They investigated what was working well and where there was room for improvement.


“Not only did we consider operational issues, but also the longer term issue of climate change.” Forecasts suggest a potential snow cover reduction by 2040 of 21 % at 1,000 m and 8 % at 2,000 m. “The question for us was how to ensure sustainable fun and excellence.


With this we began a journey towards sustainable mountain management. We invested in summer earthworks to improve the surface of our slopes, filling hollows, reshaping jumps and half pipes, grooming runs and adding drainage. We developed a programme to assess available water and storage requirements, and identified that our vehicle fleet was reaching the end of its service life.”

Eric Barnes, Manager Infrastructure & Operations bei Cardrona Alpine Resorts Ltd.

SNOWSATsat supporting change

Accordingly, the decision to invest in the snow grooming fleet was made in the summer of 2014. The resort bought four new PistenBully: two PistenBully 600 Polar W, a PistenBully 600 and – to ensure it continues to offer the best fun park in the Southern Hemisphere – a PistenBully 400 ParkPro. The addition of these new machines has significantly improved the efficiency and quality of the slopes. That’s why the SNOWsat snow and fleet management system was installed at the same time.


All vehicles of the fleet have been equipped. The first season’s experiences have fulfilled all of Erik Barnes’ hopes: “With SNOWsat we can understand our mountains and our snow even better. The system is creating connections for our people between departments, enabling them to discuss when, where and how we make snow, move snow, collect snow naturally and groom the runs to perfection.


We are all learning that what we thought we knew isn’t always what is happening on the mountain and that there are always better ways to do things. Just because we have always done it that way, doesn’t mean it is the right way.”

SNOWsat offers many asdvantages

For Cardrona, SNOWsat’s biggest advantages include the ability to create the best possible snow cover, by detecting snow deposits and shifting them accordingly. SNOWsat gives snow makers precisely the information they need about where snow is required and where there is already enough. It’s also helpful that the system minimises the risk of damage by rocks and boulders.


SNOWsat also shows where earthworks are needed in the summer, in order to form a smooth snow cover in the winter even on difficult terrain. The integrated fleet management system is very intuitive too. Erik Barnes is now looking to the future full of confidence: “New Zealand prides itself on being 100 % pure. As a resort focused on winter fun we need to do our part in promoting this vision.


Our journey on the road to sustainable fun has just begun, but with the new groomers and SNOWsat we are well placed to make a difference, set ourselves up for longterm success, and ensure our guests have the most epic experience possible.”