Planning a ski holiday in Queenstown? Read on for our top tips on making the most of your Queenstown ski holiday.
Whether you’re coming from overseas or from across Cook Strait, it’s worth having as much as organised as you can before you arrive. Being prepared means you can hit the slopes as soon as you arrive (and you won’t miss a minute’s skiing or snowboarding action).
WHERE TO SKI
There are four main ski areas within driving distance of Queenstown. The closest are The Remarkables and Coronet Peak, with Cardrona and Treble Cone situated closest to Wanaka. Have a read of our skiing page for all the info on what each ski area offers.
If you’re looking to head further afield, small club fields like Ohau and Roundhill are loads of fun and about a 3-hour drive away.
All of Queenstown’s ski areas offer a good mix of beginner and advanced terrain. Cardrona and The Remarkables offer substantial pipe and park terrain for the adventurous. If you haven’t skied in New Zealand before, it’s worth knowing that the skiing is in open terrain. There are no trees on the slopes here!
QUEENSTOWN SKI SEASON
The Queenstown ski season kicks off in early June. The 2015 season opened this weekend with Coronet Peak and Cardrona being the first to open. The Remarkables will open next weekend on June 20 and Treble Cone opens June 25. All ski areas make snow prior to opening (and throughout the season) so you can be assured of lots of the white stuff. The ski season runs through to October, the exact closing date will depend on how the snow holds up.
CHOOSING A LIFT TICKET
There are loads of options for lift tickets. You can choose a one-day pass, a season’s pass or anything in between. A one day pass is around NZ$100 at any of the main ski fields and season passes range from around NZ$1,000 – NZ$1,400. There are savings to be had if you purchase multi-day tickets (such as a 3-day or 6-day pass), so it’s worth figuring out how many days you’ll be skiing or snowboarding, and purchasing tickets accordingly. For most mountains, kids under 6 are free. There are also packages that allow you to combine lessons and gear rental.
Check out NZSki’s Queenstown Superpass that allows you to exchange a day’s skiing for a participating Queenstown activity. This is a great option if you feel like taking a break from the snow for a day and don’t want your ticket to go to waste. And new this year is the Flexi Pass from Cardrona and Treble Cone. This 3-day or 5-day pass gives you interchangeable access to either of these mountains.
For the more adventurous… head up after dark for night skiing at Coronet Peak on Friday or Saturday night. Or, treat yourself to the ultimate untracked runs on a heli-ski trip.
There are plenty of options for hiring ski and snowboard gear in Queenstown. Ski hire is available on-mountain, in town or in the accommodation. Shotover Street is the main street in Queenstown and you’ll find most ski hire shops here, or very close by. SnoPro is also a convenient option. They conveniently come to Spinnaker Bay to kit you out with all ski gear. Even if you arrive late in the day, a service like this means you’ll be ready to go for first lift the very next day.
If you’re planning on buying gear, you won’t be disappointed with the huge range of ski, snowboard and outdoor stores in Queenstown.
If you’re planning on driving yourself to the ski fields, make sure you know the road conditions. While some of the roads are sealed, poor weather and ice often make conditions challenging. You can drive all the way to the base buildings of The Remarkables and Coronet Peak on tar-sealed roads. Cardrona is sealed part way up and Treble Cone is a gravel road the whole way. Regardless of whether the roads are sealed, make sure you always carry chains in your vehicle. There are many times throughout the season when the road is only accessible by vehicles fitted with chains. If you’re in a rental car, pick up snow chains from your rental car company. Our top tip is to make sure you know how to fit chains before you get half way up an icy ski access road! Make sure you check the road conditions each day.
If this all sounds too taxing, just hop on the ski bus. There are ski transfer services available to all main ski areas, departing throughout the day. Just make sure you book in advance for this stress-free way to access the snow.
AND… AT THE END OF THE DAY
Don’t forget après-ski! With over 100 bars and restaurants in Queenstown, there’s a huge amount of establishments to choose from (and if you have the energy, most are open late). One of our favourites is the historic Cardrona Hotel where you can enjoy mulled wine and hot chips in one of the oldest pubs in the region.