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Iconic Cardrona Hotel Welcomes 160 Years

The Cardrona Hotel celebrates its 160th anniversary this year and to mark the significant milestone owners Cade and Alexis Thornton are dedicated to preserving the building’s historic heritage.

“We want her looking the very best for the big birthday celebrations in September,” says Alexis,” so recently the iconic façade was repainted and work has begun on the old McDougall’s general store, the rear of the hotel and the beer garden.”

“Painting the facade of a heritage-listed historic building was challenging but luckily we found a good local team with some expertise from Auckland to get it finished.”

Bouncing back from two years of Covid-19 restrictions the legendary country hotel with its accommodation, restaurant and bar is in full swing this winter.

“Staying at the Cardrona Hotel is quite a different experience,” says Alexis. “Our rooms are comfortable and well-appointed but we encourage guests to grab a drink, find a spot by the open fires or in the garden and soak up the atmosphere. We tend to attract guests that enjoy this social aspect of travelling with many striking up conversations with others over a bottle of Pinot under the stars by the outdoor fire. Those are the moments that make for a memorable stay.”

The hotel has 17 rooms, all with ensuites, and caters for everyone including groups and families.

“Some family rooms with a queen and two single beds are popular for ski holidays. Parents love it because the family eats in the restaurant for breakfast and dinner which means coming down off the mountain there’s no need to cook or head back into town to eat. But alternatively we have recently added two modern three-bedroom villas adjacent to the hotel providing options for groups or families who prefer to self-cater.”


The Cardrona Hotel is renowned for its fun après ski atmosphere.

“ Everyone is generally on a high after an epic snow day, also hungry and thirsty so our après ski snacks always hit the spot,” says hotel proprietor Cade Thornton. “We’re offering our usual winter format all-day bar menu and curated evening menu in the restaurant which changes depending on seasonal ingredients and our chef’s whim.”

“Mulled wine is back on tap and one of our most popular dishes – the beef wellington returns. Breakfast is now available to the general public and our selection of famous cheese scones, muffins and other delicious treats are available from the bar daily.”

Cade and Alexis have run the historic property for more than a decade and a highlight was winning the New Zealand Hospitality overall supreme award in 2018.

“That was huge but equally receiving feedback or thank you notes from happy guests who go out of their way to let us know how special their experience staying with us has been just as rewarding.”