While the tagline of being "undiscovered for 85 years" seems pretty unbelievable — backcountry touring doesn't count? — this New Zealand basin being opened to cat skiing does look pristine. Soho Basin is next to Cardrona Alpine Resort not too far from Queenstown on the country's south island. The basin, with it's lack of improvements, is being billed as a trip back to the skiing pioneer days of New Zealand — except with a heated cat. It sounds like there might be some plans to further develop Soho Basin in the future, but for right now, it's just feeling it out with a soft opening of sorts.
The mainly-south facing Soho Basin has about 650 acres of skiable terrain with 1,640 feet of vertical. Tickets to ride will run you about $370 for a full day or $188 for a four-run half day. Or you can go all out and rent a private charter for up to 24 people.
In a setup akin to U.S. ski areas operating on public National Forest land, Soho Basin sits on Crown-owned land, with leases and permits being given to private individuals. What that means for New Zealand's backcountry skiers is that the lease and permit holders maintain they make the basin off limits to anyone but paying guests, but instead, they just ask that you sign a waiver and chip in a couple bucks for a local air rescue fund. That probably sounds familiar to anyone who's done some uphill at a resort in the U.S. recently.
· Soho Basin [Official site]
· Exclusive new Queenstown ski area 'undiscovered for 85 years' [Stuff.co.nz]
· Rocky Mountain Super Pass+ Adds Another New Zealand Resort [Curbed Ski]