Queenstown and Wanaka are famous for their Ski Fields which are open from Mid-June to Mid-October. Over the Winter Season, Queenstown is home to major events like the Winter Festival, Burton NZ Open and the Winter Games. There are 4 major ski fields within two hours of Queenstown.
In Queenstown there are numerous rental and transport companies that you can just walk into for all your clothing and gear rental. For season passes to the mountains, you need to purchase before April for the best deals.
NZ Ski owns the Remarkables and Coronet Peak so a season pass with them will allow you access to both mountains. You can rent equipment up the mountain, but many choose to do this from town before you get there. All the ski fields have offices in Queenstown where you can go for information and passes.
The closest mountain to Queenstown, which is only a 20 minute drive from the centre of town. Coronet Peak has something for everyone, including a magic carpet for beginners. It is quite common to hitch a ride up to Coronet Peak due to its close proximity to Queenstown. This has been very safe and a common transport method for locals. The day starts here early with First Tracks from 9am and on weekends finishes late with Night Skiing on Fridays and Saturdays until 9pm.
Transport: Check out Kiwi Discovery or Info & Track for transport options.
Terrain: 25% Beginner/Novice, 45% Intermediate, 30% Advanced. Terrain park for beginner - intermediate.
Prices: Day pass $98, Half day $67
The Remarkables make up possibly the most dramatic backdrop in Queenstown, behind Frankton. The Remarkables (also known as 'The Remarks") are about 45 minutes drive from Queenstown and are known for backcountry skiing and their terrain park. They also have a beginners area. Coaches provide regular transport up and down the mountain. Lift hours: 9am-4pm.
Transport: Check out Kiwi Discovery or Info & Track for transport options.
Terrain: 30% beginner/Novice, 40% Intermediate, 30% Advanced.
Prices: Day Pass $95. Half Day $65. Group Lessons are $60 for 1 two hour lesson, for both mountains
Centrally located between Wanaka and Queenstown, Cardrona is known for its wide open slopes which are particularly popular with beginner-intermediate level skiiers or boarders. Cardrona is about an hour from Queenstown, and 35 minutes from Wanaka, with coach transport available from both towns. Cardrona is higher than the other skifields in the area, so is renowned for getting the best snow, and more of it. Lift hours: 9am-4pm.
Transport: Check out Kiwi Discovery and Info & Track for transport options. Cardrona offers an exceptional 'first timer package' which includes 2 x 2 hour lessons, snowboard or ski rental and return transport from Queenstown for just $139.
Terrain: 25% beginner, 55% intermediate, 20% advanced.
Prices: Day Pass $99, Half Day $72. Group lesson $62 or $110 for 2 x 2 hour lessons in the same day.
Treble Cone is the largest of the ski fields in the Queenstown / Wanaka area, and is a 1 hour and 20 minute bus ride from Queenstown, but don't let that put you off. The bus trip flies by, as you take in the awesome scenery of the crown range and lake Wanaka. Arriving at the base area, you are greeted with one of the best views you'll see in New Zeaand (in my opinion), a spectacular panorama of lake Wanaka and the southern Alps.
Contrary to local myth, Treble Cone is not just a ski field for the advanced rider. It has a huge selection of terrain for all ability levels. From long wide blues and greens on the home basin to the steep black diamonds of the saddle basin, and with a world class ski and board school; there really is something for everyone! Lift hours: 9am-4pm.
Transport: Check out Kiwi Discovery and Info & Track for transport options.
Terrain: 10% beginner, 45% intermediate, 45% advanced.
Prices: Day pass $105, half Day $72 Group lesson $63
In Queenstown you will see numerous stores dedicated to clothing, gear rental and transport for your day up the mountain. Expect to pay $40-$50 for your ski/snowboard for the day, and $30-$40 for clothing. Transport varies in price, with return transport to Coronet Peak available for around $20, while Treble cone is closer to $50. It is a good idea to shop around for a package deal to keep it cheap.
Kiwi Discovery Offers a range of Ski and Snowboard clothing and rental equipment including hats, goggles and gloves. They also provide transport to all mountains. Open 7am-8:30pm. Located at: 37 Camp Street, Queenstown Phone: 03 442 7340
Info & Track Provide all inclusive packages for any experience level. They can also help with other activities in and around Queenstown. Provide transport and rental packages to Cardrona and Treble Cone. Open 7am-9pm. Located at: 37 Shotover St, Queenstown Phone: 03 442 9708
The Green Toad A locally owned and operated rental shop, the Green Toad concentrates on the budget end of the rental market, while continually maintaining a high standard of equipment. Open 7:30am-9pm. Located at: 48 Camp St, Queenstown Phone: 03 442 5311
First time on the slopes? Are you destined to be a skier or snowboarder? Planks or trays? Whether it is image or ease that concerns you, take a gander at the tips below to help you decide whether you will ski or snowboard in Queenstown this winter...
Which is easiest?
If you're a complete novice then the learning curve for skiing is far easier than snowboarding due to the independent leg movement you have with skis. Once you have mastered snow ploughing you will be able to negotiate most beginner and intermediate slopes. However, unless you progress you will stand out on the more advanced slopes so make sure you go the extra mile to learn the technicalities of the sport.
Snowboarding is historically more difficult than skiing to initially pick up as it is one of the only sports where your legs are strapped in and cannot be moved independently of each other. You will experience various bumps and bruises on the road to becoming a pro snowboarder but once you have mastered a front turn, riding off piste will be an absolute breeze.
Which is more convenient?
Walking to the lift can be an absolute nightmare! Slinging those awkward skis over your shoulder can look simple but when tried by a novice they can cross, fall and tangle! Plus the slow stride in your boots can make you look less than suave. Getting on the lift however is a piece of cake compared to snowboarding. Just glide into position and slide gracefully off the lift at the other end! Simple!
Walking to the lift is a piece of cake, with your super comfy boots and your lightweight board... getting on the lift is another question. Take your back foot out of the bindings to push yourself into position for the lift and then getting snow clogged bindings is a regular occurrence. It is pretty hard to balance but once you have got the hang of getting on and off the lift it should be a breeze!
Which is cooler?
Skiing lost its street cred when snowboarding became cool but the times have changed and its cool factor is on the rise! Baggy is the new onesie. TOP TIP: make sure you are seen in the park with the new school free riders hitting up the latest ski tricks.
Again, baggy is better. You can spend a fortune on sick threads and the latest gear. TOP TIP: your board needs to be subdued and chilled man, fancy patterns and naked women are out...
Here at Nomads Queenstown, we reckon the ultimate accessory is the mighty helmet! Although not compulsory in New Zealand, with the slopes getting busier, by wearing a helmet you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. 'Select' and 'Quest' in town have a great selection in stock.
Of course what better way to end a day of skiing than relaxing next to the fireplace, watching a movie or sitting in a warm sauna? Nothing! That's what... so come and stay with us at Nomads Queenstown to ensure you stay all cosy during the Queenstown ski season!
Author: Nomads Queenstown.