Skiing Queenstown New Zealand

General Feel .
Skiing Queenstown for a change? This is a great destination for skiers who want to explore fresh snow powder terrain well beyond the boundaries. In coming to New Zealand, we looked for unspoiled mountainous scenery, landscape interwoven with rivers, pristine lakes, and glaciers. That is what we found on the southern end of the southern island. We traversed all of New Zealand, both islands, searching for rugged mountainous peaks. The most tantalizing area in terms of town ambience and skiable terrain was around Queenstown.

view from Cardrona our trip to Franz Joseph glacier view from Coronet Peak towards Queenstown

If you have few spare days, snow trekking around Queenstown is great. Catch the gondola to the viewing point above Queenstown, and track these regions. You will take in beautiful views of the town, lake and the neighboring valley.

If you want to steer away from Skiing Queenstown just for a day, you will be blown away with the adventure activities that this place has to offer. Take a fat wallet and you will have a blast.

If you have not seen Fjords before, take a trip to Milford Sound. This Fjordland bears parallels to Gigantic Norwegian Fjords. If you can afford it, fly there ( it's 5 min away) alternatively take the bus. Just be warned it takes half a day to get there by bus. We would suggest staying overnight on the cruising ship, and coming back the next day.

Best time to ski is end of June to beginning of October.

Off Piste.
The best mind set to have when skiing Queenstown, is to realize, you are at a remote part of the world which is not densely inhabited. Consequently everything in terms of infrastructure has to be scaled down. Towns are smaller, lift systems are smaller, and the patrolled ski terrains are smaller. All the skiable slopes and drop-offs have to be driven to, and are not within a walking distance.

Our recommendation is experience this place with the help of a helicopter. Ouch !, expensive exercise you say, true, but one, which will make you, appreciate the vastness of the region. Entire mountain ranges, powder trails, panoramas are yours to keep. You will enjoy scenery only some skier’s dream of.

When you are skiing Queenstown, you are in fact based in the town, taking side trips to the ski resorts.

The resorts around Queenstown may to some, resemble ski parks rather than resorts. They are cute and varied, by all means see them, just scale down your expectations. After all, the entire Southern Island of New Zealand has a population of only 1.2mil. Arrive here with the view that you will enjoy the scenery, do some skiing and to fully saturate your spirit of the ski adventure, take a helicopter ride.

Enrich your experience Skiing Queenstown, by visiting four ski parks, which can be reached by car, within approx. 1 hour. We recommend four because these can be reached within a reasonable time. There are a couple of other ski destinations around Queenstown, but your round trip for the day ends up being 4 hours. In our view, that transit time, was somewhat excessive for a day expedition.

These four ski parks are designed for day skiing, without provisions for overnight accommodation. Allow yourself a couple of days per ski-park to learn the terrain inside out. Each spot shares different views, all of them are breathtaking, and all barren and exposed to the elements.

Skiing these destinations on a good clear day is a blissful experience. You will enjoy the solitude, being surrounded by the mountains. Often as far as your eye can see there are no reminders of civilization.

Skiing Queenstown and adjacent Ski Fields.

  • Remarkables.
    Classically has second best snowfall after Cardrona, with highest lift altitude of 1943m. The park will offer great palisades, valleys and ride lines, which are suited for intermediates and beginners. There are fresh powder black runs here as well. Take in the view of the “Double Cone”, which are two sister peaks viewed from the top of Remarkables. This ski park offers best views of the lake. You will take good 45 minutes to drive here from Queenstown. If you flew into the Queenstown airport you will pass the Remarkables on your right as you drive towards the town.

    overview of Remarkables Ski Park

  • Coronet Peak.
    This ski destination is 25-min drive from Queenstown, so it's the closest you will actually get to skiing Queenstown.The mountain side offers beautiful valley views of Lake Wakatipu, on which Queenstown resides. The park is suited for intermediate to advanced skiing. Even snowboarders will have fun here as there are half pipes at your disposal. Good spot for marginal ski conditions, as it offers over 40 snow-guns for that less than perfect day. Highest lift altitude is 1640m. Night skiing is also found here, up to 9pm.

    overview of Coronet Peak Ski Park

  • Cardrona.
    You will find it on the way to the neighboring town of Wanaka . Cardrona is about an hour drive from Queenstown. It offers snow boarder's Terrain Park with half pipes, jumps and rails. The views are awesome. It has the best snowfall as it’s the highest Ski Park. It lies at the altitude of 1669 m, with highest lift point of 2059m.

    The park offers a good blend of beginners through to advanced runs. As far as the surrounding scenery, snow cover and the variability of the runs are concerned, it was our favorite ski-spot. Be advised it is a closer drive from Wanaka than Queenstown. The upper alpine road from Queenstown is very narrow and serpentine.

    overview of Cardrona Ski Park

  • Treble Cone. Whilst you are in the surroundings of Queenstown, in order to ski this resort you are best to be based in Wanaka. Out of all the ski parks it offers the most challenging terrain. Just like its neighboring resorts the terrain is barren and exposed to the elements , hence prone to icing up. The views are awesome, well worth checking out.

treblecone ski map

Skiing Queenstown’s neighborhood.

Queenstown's ski slopes
CardronaRemarkablesCoronet PeakTreble Cone
Highest Lift( m)2059194316401960
Area (ha)320220280550
Lift Cost($NZ)77848989
Transit(min)from Queenstown60+402560+

Glaciers.To give another dimension to snow exploration, visit two glaciers 3-4 hour trip from Queenstown; Fox and Franz.They are at a town called Franz Joseph. This town is on the northern side of the island closer to the Tasman Sea. On the way there you will pass through Wanaka, another gorgeous town, sitting on a lake. As you are weaving from Wanaka to Franz Joseph you will pass through beautiful alpine countryside, following glacial river beds . This is the backdrop scenery from the movie Lord of the Rings.

Once you arrive to Franz you will find it is a touristy town with a backpacker’s type of feel. You will find cabins, houses , a bar, few cafes and solitude. Within a short distance you can reach Franz Joseph, and Fox Glaciers. Heliskiing or glacial hiking is a common activity undertaken by skiers.Book your helisking expedition at least 1 day in advance.The grandeur of both glaciers up close, will blow you away.You will stand at the base of the glacier in awe as it towers up to six-stories high. We would recommend stay at this town for 1-2 nights.

You can have a pretty good time Skiing Queenstown and the surrounding three ski parks, exploring two glaciers all within 10 days.

Family Rating Skiing Queenstown **

  • Getting there. Direct flights are available from Australia to Queenstown. Then you will catch a short 5-minute ride to the town center. For convenience stay close to town center. Alternatively you can also fly into Christchurch then drive half a day to Queenstown.

  • Proximity to slopes. All the ski parks we mentioned are within one hour drive, so taking your children will become a little ski expedition. There are newly constructed huts springing up, adjacent to resorts, which offer a somewhat of a secluded feel. We suggest stay at Queenstown and drive up to ski. Best views are from Lake Esplanade or Beach Street. Alternatively motels and chalets overlooking the Queenstown bay, right on this map are a good idea.

  • Cafes. Good choices and good coffee.

  • Creche. Offered at Cardrona Ski Park from 3months up to five years, Coronet Peak, as well as at Queenstown. Enquire at the tourism center.

    Ski equipment.Hire and purchase of any snow ski equipment is available in Queenstown city center , as well as on each of the three mountains.

Food. Good variety available from different parts of the world. Grooviest places are found hidden in the side streets of Queenstown . Wanaka, the neighboring town 1-11/2 hrs drive, also offers good food.

Bars. Visit the bars in the main mall of the town, adjacent to the lake’s piers. You will not run out of choices as the town thrives on tourism, and bars are plentiful. The Bunker with a fireplace has a cozy atmosphere to keep you warm in winter. Bar Up is another cozy spot upstairs overlooking the lake.

Enjoy Skiing Queenstown, we think this place will only get bigger.Australians love it, and slowly the rest of the world is beginning to notice it.

Check out a personal account of a group of people that just visited the region in 2007. Skiing Wanaka adjacent to Queenstown.

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