The Ultimate Queenstown Skiing Guide 2019
Friday, May 24th, 2019
If you are looking for the best destination skiing in New Zealand then Queenstown is the place to be! Boasting a lengthy ski season that runs from June to early October, a variety of challenging terrain and world class infrastructure to match – it’s easy to see why skiers and snowboarders from around the world choose Queenstown.
The 4 Best Ski Fields In Queenstown
There are four main ski fields near Queenstown, and a couple of other options for the more advanced skier wishing to experience the epic thrill of backcountry skiing in New Zealand. Queenstown ski passes range from half day, single day, and single ski area passes to season passes and multiday options allowing access to multiple Queenstown ski areas on the one pass.
1. The Remarkables
The striking architectural Base Lodge sets the scene for The Remarkables skiing and snowboarding area with its prominent glass walls highlighting the snow clad beauty of the surrounding slopes. The Base Lodge conveniently houses the gear rental, cafés and lounge areas.
- Extensive learners area
- Wide range of runs suitable for all abilities
- Large number of terrain parks including the famous ‘Burton Stash’
- Good transport options from Queenstown
- Kids under 5 get free lift passes
The massive learner’s area is a huge drawcard at the Remarkables and comes complete with three dedicated surface conveyor lifts just for beginners, including the unique covered conveyor specifically designed for snow boarders and skiers. The ample wide open spaces and perfect pitch of the surrounding learners area allows beginners to gradually gain confidence without getting into any trouble.
Skiing not really your thing but want to take in the fantastic mountain views? Grab a Sightseeing Pass and ride to the top of the Shadow Basin chairlift. The Remarkables has some of the best views in the region and has a great middle-of-the-mountains feel about it.
- First timers
- Back country skiing
- Freestyle tricks and stunts at any level
- Kids Club. Available for ages 5 – 17 years, the Remarkables ski field offers kids programs including lessons, rentals and lift pass concessions. Childcare programs from $146 to $190 for a full day.
- Automated Storage Lockers. Overnight storage is an option when hiring gear on the mountain.
- Snow Shop Onsite. The Remarkables retail shop stocks a good selection of ski and snowboard gear if you forgot something or need to upgrade your gear.
Just a 45 minute drive from Queenstown (24km), the Remarkables is within easy reach for a day on the slopes. Drive yourself on up or you can catch a bus up from the Snow Centre on Duke Street in Central Queenstown.
The Remarkables Lift Pass Price Guide
Children’s prices include the ages 6-17 years, all prices up to date as of May 2019.
- Full Day passes $119 per adult, $57 per child
- Half Day afternoon pass $90 for adults, children $45
2. Coronet Peak
A good range of unrestricted runs set Coronet Peak apart, along with it being the closest and easiest ski field to get to from Queenstown. Coronet Peak is just 20 minutes’ drive away and the access road is all sealed (a bonus for those who are driving rental cars).
- Night skiing
- First Tracks early morning runs
- Closest ski field to Queenstown
- DJ’s and entertainment on night Skiing days
- Sealed access road
Hit the snow first with the Coronet Peak First Tracks pass (limited availability) and you can get up the mountain an hour before the crowds and enjoy carving your own tracks from the fresh snow. Or if you really aren’t a morning person then give the Coronet Peak Night Skiing a go.
Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (weather permitting) during July and August you can head up the mountain when everyone is usually heading home and take on the trails at night (4 – 9pm). The best of the trails are lit up like its Christmas with some darker spots adding to the thrill. If you are a confident skier night skiing is really one to chuck on the bucket list.
- Night Skiing (Coronet Peak is the only ski resort in Queenstown offering night skiing)
- Intermediate to advanced skiers
- Vehicles without 4WD
- Excellent Snow Making Facilities. Coronet Peak has 15 fully automated snow guns, supplied with water from 4 pump-houses capable of flowing 330 litres per second. 80% of the water used is reused making Coronet Peak the “biggest automated system in the southern hemisphere”.
- Childcare. On-mountain childcare is available for children from 3 months to 5 years of age. Childcare programs range from $97 up to $169 for a full day
- Shuttle Bus. Access via shuttle bus is a good option if you don’t wish to drive up the access road, prices start from $25 per person, hotel pickup is available on request.
Coronet Peak is just 20 minutes’ drive from Queenstown, and the road is sealed all the way. This means those of you without 4WD vehicles are able to make it to the top. Snow chains may still be required. Travelling along the Gorge Road can be treacherous in winter, check road conditions before setting out.
Coronet Peak Lift Pass Guide
Childrens prices include the ages 6-17 years, all prices listed are up to date as of May 2019.
- Full Day $119 per adult, $57 per child
- Half Day afternoon pass $90 per adult, children $45
- Night Skiing $62 per adult, $40 per child
- First Tracks pass adds $37 onto the regular Full Day lift pass (To Be Confirmed)
3. Cardrona Alpine Resort
You can’t really talk about Cardrona without mentioning the olympic sized ‘Superpipe’. Plenty of the world’s best have made use of the towering halfpipe – the same size as those ridden by the pros in the events such as the Winter Olympics and X Games.
- The Olympic Superpipe with its 22 foot high walls, 160 metres long and 21 metre wide!
- The International Halfpipe (12-14ft walls, 130 metres long and 16 metres wide)
- More challenging runs for advanced skiers
- The Chondola – ride to the top in comfort and style!
Cardrona is in fact the place to be for extensive park and pipe facilities, and is in fact the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. With four separate terrain parks all designed to accommodate different abilities and strengths along with the 22 foot walls of the Olympic Superpipe and the International Halfpipe it is easy to see why.
Servicing its slopes Cardrona has an extensive list of ascension devices including the ‘Chondola” – a cross between a chairlift and a gondola this lift provides the comfort of closed in comfort and speedy access right of the top of the ski field.
- Back country skiing and snow boarding
- Expert skiers
- Freestylers on the terrain parks and halfpipes
- Those with young children needing childcare while on the slopes
- Fully Licenced Childcare Facilities. Catering for children aged 3 moths to 5 years. Includes the awesome Ski Kindy service for 2 – 5 year olds where they can have their very own ski lesson! Childcare programs from $146 to $190 for a full day.
- Short And Longer Term Storage Lockers. $10 per day for short term, $40 to $50 for the larger longer term lockers.
- Shuttle Bus Services. These are available both from Queenstown and Wanaka, you are looking at around $55 per person return from Queenstown and $35 from Wanaka.
- On Mountain Accommodation. Stay up on the mountain in one of Cardrona’s fifteen self-catering Alpine Apartments, just a minutes’ walk from the lifts. Choose from studio, two, three and four bedroom options.
- Snow Chain Hire. Pick up snow chains at $30 for 2WD cars and $40 for 4WD’s.
At just over and hour’s drive from Queenstown, Cardrona is one a bit more of a drive than some of the others but it’s well worth the effort! The access road is unsealed and requires careful navigation; snow chains will be required on most days. There are several shuttle services available if you do not wish to drive.
4WD vehicles are the preferred option when tackling the Cardrona access road, see here for more information on hiring a 4WD in New Zealand.
Cardrona Lift Pass Price Guide
Children’s prices include the ages 6-17 years, all prices are up to date as at May 2019.
- Full Day passes $115 per adult, $60 per child
- Half Day pass $80 for adults, children $50
4. Treble Cone
The largest ski area in Queenstown, Treble Cone is a bit further afield but it’s worth it for the absolutely beautiful mountain views alone. Find Treble Cone roughly 1.5 hours’ drive from Queenstown and you will be rewarded with intensely long runs covering a 700 metre drop zone along with challenging terrain.
- Stunning views!
- Rugged back country vibe
- Watching the sunrise over Lake Wanaka
- Large ski fields catering for all levels
Expert skiers and boarders seek out the untouched snow at the limits of the ski field known as the Motatapu Chutes – some of the best snow in the South island. There are also beginner and intermediate runs if you aren’t quite the expert skier just yet.
Getting the kids a lesson at Treble Cone is also a great idea, class sizes max out at 5 children meaning more one on one time for the kids and a more tailored approach to learning to ski. The same goes for adults if you are in need of a refresh or haven’t skied or snowboarded before.
- Expert level skier and boarders
- Legendary off-piste terrain
- Long uninterrupted runs (the longest is 4km)
- Back Country Lift Passes. Only available on the day from the on-mountain sales office, $50.
- The Food. There are five eateries located throughout the ski area so you can stop for a break on the mountain, no need to return to Base.
- Free Ski Helmets For Kids. Treble Cone offers free helmets with all kids ski or snowboard hire on the mountain.
- Instructor Training. Treble Cone runs their very own Rookie Academy – producing some of the best instructors in New Zealand. Courses include accommodation, transport, lift passes and training.
Treble Cone is roughly an hour and a half from Queenstown, but only 25 minutes from Wanaka, so not too bad if you stop for an early breakfast in Wanaka before heading up the slopes. The Wanaka Mount Aspiring Road is fairly steep in places and is a gravel road.
Treble Cone Lift Pass Price Guide
Children’s prices include the ages 6-17 years, all prices are up to date as at May 2019. Lift passes include a free ride on the Express Bus from Wanaka and/or free access road shuttle.
- Full Day passes $149 per adult, $75 per child
- Multiday passes are available for discounted rates see website for more information
Soho Basin – The Next Level
If you are a seasoned skier or snow boarder and you are looking for something a little off-the-beaten-track then the private ski field Soho Basin is where you want to be. This unspoiled snowy playground is back-country like you only dream of.
264 hectares of high-country terrain is available just for you – skip the cues and the crowds and travel up the slopes in style with the specialised Snowcat transporters. This personalised service includes a maximum of 24 people on the mountain, three course lunch and on-hand advice from your guides for the best snow and best terrain.
Soho Basin is just a 60 minute drive from Queenstown, the terrain is suited to intermediate to advanced levels, with prices starting at $785 per person per day.
Save Money On Gear Hire In Queenstown
While the convenience of hiring your gear on the mountain is great you can save some money by hiring elsewhere check out our quick price guide for hiring skis and snowboards in Queenstown.
- Coronet Peak ski/Snowboard hire and boots $48 for adults, $37 for children
- The Remarkables ski/Snowboard and boots hire $48 for adults, $37 per child
- Cardrona ski/Snowboard and boots hire $50 for adults, $44 per child
- Treble Cone ski/Snowboard and boots hire $59 for adults, $49 per child
Renting your gear from Queenstown can save you money, there are multiple stores offering good rates for renting your gear if you don’t mind having to take it with you up the mountain.
- Snow Rental Queenstown ski/snowboard/boots hire from $27 per day
- Snopro Ski Hire ski/snowboard/boots hire from $44 per day
- Green Toad Ski Hire ski/snowboard/boots hire from $28 per day
- Outside Sports ski/snowboard/boots hire from $25 per day
- Browns Ski Shop ski/snowboard/boots hire from $50 per day
- SkiHire NZ ski/snowboard/boots hire from $27 per day
- Ultimate Queenstown ski/snowboard/boots hire from $25 per day
- Ski Hire Queenstown.com ski/snowboard/boots hire from $30 per day
- Snowbiz ski/snowboard/boots hire from $47 per day
- OneStop Ski and Snowboard Rental ski/snowboard/boots hire from $32 per day
- Rent Snow Gear ski/snowboard/boots hire from $39 per day
- J&D Ski and Board Rental ski/snowboard/boots hire from $28 per day
Many of these stores offer varying rates for multi day rentals, children’s rates and the option to hire clothing and helmets etc. Look out for group discounts and special pre-season deals.
Ski Field Car Access In Queenstown
Some people may be a little nervous about driving up to the ski fields; however it is usually fairly straight forward so long as the visibility is reasonable.
It is important to always carry snow chains with you and drive cautiously no matter what the conditions. Keep in mind it does pay to have a trial run of fitting snow chains particularly in an unfamiliar vehicle – you never know when you will need them!
Guide To Queenstown Ski Field Access
If you are wondering what to expect when driving up to the snow, here is a simple guide to vehicle access to the ski fields in Queenstown.
- Coronet Peak – The access road is tar sealed all the way to the base building. Chains must be carried and sometimes put on when weather conditions call for them – quite an easy drive up to the top. The Coronet Peak Access Road is approximately 8.5 km long from the turn off at the Arthurs Point Road (Take Skippers Road then Coronet Peak Road). Parking is free at the top.
- The Remarkables – The access road to the Remarkables is one of the more challenging roads, it is gravel (unsealed) all the way to the base building. Chains must be carried and put on when it is snowing – this can be quite a challenging drive (drive with care). The access road is roughly 13 km long and takes around 25 minutes. Parking is free at the top.
- Treble Cone – There is a 7 km gravel access road up to Treble Cone, turning off the Wanaka-Mount Aspiring Road. This is graded and gritted regularly throughout the season. While chains are rarely required, they should be carried by all vehicles at all times and some care with driving is required. Treble Cone is not suitable for motor homes or campervans. Parking is free at the top.
- Cardrona Ski Field – The Cardrona ski field access road is located on the road between Queenstown and Wanaka about 2.5km north (the Wanaka side) of the famous Cardrona Pub, off the Cardrona Valley Road. The 12 km drive up to the ski resort takes about 18 minutes, and is unsealed. Chains must be carried and put on when it is snowing (cautious driving required). Parking is free at the top.
When it comes to Queenstown ski field car access, it always pays to check the latest ski report. Aim to arrive early on the ski field, and leave while visibility is still good, driving is much harder when the mountains are covered by low cloud or it’s snowing.
Need transport while skiing in Queenstown? NZ Rent A Car are offering FREE ski racks for all 4WD vehicles (excludes minibuses), booked between 15th June 2019 and 31st August 2019.