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Local Ski Fields, Queenstown & Wanaka

Breathtaking scenery, bluebird days, great snow, short queues and a welcoming friendly atmosphere are just a few of reasons people come to ski and snowboard in Queenstown and Wanaka.  The four local ski fields for you to enjoy from June until early October each year.  You'll find wide, gentle, well groomed slopes for beginners through to ultimate terrain parks, powder pack bowls and chutes for advanced off-piste lovers.  

Where in New Zealand is Queenstown and Wanaka Ski Queenstown and Wanaka - map of skis fields

Report by Outside Sports Blogger, Queenstown and Wanaka Local Skier.

Coronet Peak

Coronet Peak is the closest Ski field to Queenstown, an easy 20 minute drive on tar sealed 2 way road, with plenty of parking. Due to the masses of people commuting it can feel somewhat commercialised and can get very busy.  At a base elevation of 1649m it is also the lowest sitting Queenstown ski field so doesn’t always get the natural snow fall, however it does have an extensive snowmaking system with snow guns covering multiple trails top to bottom which make up for it.  As its landscape represents that of a rolling hill with lots of tussocks, Coronet Peak doesn’t need a deep base like The Remarkables, meaning that is the first mountain to open and kick of the winter season, normally early June.

With wide, open trails on Big Easy, Coronet Peak allows plenty of room for beginners. With a beginner chairlift to introduce those to the correct usage at slow speed. Also known as “concrete peak” because when it rains-it rains! Puddles leave ice and most of the day the mountain is in the shade. So beginner snowboarders should be prepared to get a sore bum! However this hard packed terrain is perfect for ski racers with some steep, physically and mentally testing terrain for the advance on trails such as Pro am and within Rocky gully. To get the best of coronets fantastic groomers I suggest you get first tracks at 8pm. Less frequently Coronet Peak can be really fun on a powder day- get up there early as its tends to get tracked out fast. Sarah Sue, Exchange drop and powder run can be awesome.

Coronet Peak is now the only mountain to offer Night skiing every Friday and Saturday, a great atmosphere for après-ski and sunset over a scenic view of Queenstown. Expect mogul skiing as the piste has taken its toll all day. This year Heidi’s hut now offers evening dinner, another fantastic après-ski option (there is no ski-in or out access). 

Overall Coronet Peak is the closest ski mountain to town with good potential and hosts the winter festival with lots of mountain madness including the famous dog derby. Other events such as the Winter classic are also held throughout the season providing great racing with t-bar access- beware beginner snowboarders the T bar is a challenge and the only way out is up!

A perfect ski selection for this mountain would be a performance carver, WC SL or GS.

Coronet Peak ski field Queenstown Outside Sports NZ

Coronet Peak Trail Map.

The Remarkables

One of three mountains in the world that runs true North to South- how very Remarkable! A 45 minute drive from Queenstown along a dirt track mountain road which can be overwhelming.  If you’re not experienced on mountain alpine roads, there’s buses from the bottom of the access road, jump on and take away the stress. 

The base of the Remarkables correlates to the top of Coronet Peak. Resulting in heavier snowfall in a southerly front and sits at an elevation of 1943m. A new 6 seater express chairlift was installed in 2014, opeining up more terrain and easier access to the backcountry. A great aspect to the Remarkables is that it’s in the Sun all day so feels warmer and you can improve that goggle tan, whether on the lift, at the base or at the Ice bar at the top of Alta chair.  The is perfect for beginners can enjoy some Dutch courage!

The mountain itself has a traditional alpine feel, with dramatic landscape and rocky outcrops. The smallest out of all four mountains, you will find the base building can become very crowded in school holidays, so avoid the lunchtime rush.  Remarkables offers a great family environment with tubing and sightseeing lift passes to the lookout.   Kids under 10 ski for free – perfect money saver  for larger families. Much ground work has been done over the past few years at Remarkables allowing for wider and more beginner friendly runs, along with a new base building that will be open in 2015.

Remarkables is great for backcountry access and advanced skiing amongst Alta chutes/homeward bound and toilet bowl with short hiking access. Park riders dominate Sugar chair, where 3 progressive terrain parks are featured including a natural feature park called the Stash, the chairlift directly above the terrain park allows for great ariel viewing over the park.

The park hosts various freestyle events and the North Face Big Mountain challenge.

One tip for Skiing and Boarding at The Remarkables is to have black bases, as core shots are indefinite. A perfect ski suggestion for here would be an all-mountain twin, preferably 90 underfoot.

Remarkables Ski Field trail map Queenstown NZ Outside Sports

Cardrona

It’s hard not to be biased when it comes to Cardrona but all I can give is praise. Cardona, by far is one of the best ski fields in the south island in basic terms that its bigger, great for all abilities, has fantastic ski school and day-care, world class half pipe, terrain park and a variety of 5 cafe options (without the extortionist price tag). Even if the snow is not perfect all of the above aspects including friendly, helpful staff make up the day. I can honestly say I have never experienced a bad day here even in whiteout conditions. The only downside is that it is located an hour from Queenstown over the Crown range and if you have to fit chains this can be a pain, however there is always the option of the bus which will take away all your worries, expect longer travel times. Personally I prefer to drive, that way you can always make a stop at Cardrona pub on the way home for cheeky local ale and warm up by the log fire.

The mountain, not purposely, becomes divided into separate areas which are perfect for every ability. Beginners are not caught up with the park riders and the intermediate to advance can enjoy open terrain and chute access. With the highest elevation at 1860m and a base at 1670m.  50% of the terrain is designed for intermediates and so it doesn’t provide a lot of very steep terrain, however the Arcadia chutes have varying options for a challenging descent, and if you carry skins then the drop off from Queenstown return can be amazing on a powder day (avalanche warning). Even though marked as Black, the outside line of Secret chute is an ideal introduction for intermediate skiers/boarders. Beginners can enjoy the entire mountain so it’s worth getting a full lift pass and exploring. One of the few mountains that you can get a good leg burner of a run from the top of Captains express quad down to Valley view. Wide open terrain and plenty of room so it never seems super busy, as like the Queenstown mountains and there are various stops for food and drink across the mountain to make more of an interesting day.

An ideal ski suggestion for here would be the Cham, with touring set up if possible. The Cham skis well of-piste but with its traditional carving shape and narrower waist it can still carve on the groomers.

Cardrona Trail map ski wanaka Outside Sports NZ

Cardrona Trail Map.

Treble cone

The south Islands largest ski resort, at a base elevation of 1260m and summit of 2088m (accessible via short hike). Treble cone has the longest run at 4km; almost double that of the Queenstown Ski fields.  Get Fantastic views of Lake Wanaka from the base building. Always suggested for the intermediate and advanced, those used to skiing in the Northern hemisphere it’s worth the travel time from Queenstown, 1.5 hours over the Crown range, with mountain road conditions similar to that of The Remarkables.  

Treble cones terrain is like none other, steep, long and challenging, with gullies, chutes, bowls and drops!  Huge backcountry with cheap lift passes for access. One cafe at the base building, but it’s never busy here and so it’s not a huge problem, the only frustrating aspect is that the only toilets are also located at the base, so it’s a long ski down from the saddle.

This place rocks on a powder day- the day really is full of powder! No lift lines and hours of freshies, with plenty of possibilities within the Saddle.  It’s also fantastic leg builder on long, wide open steep groomers, perfect race training conditions that are well maintained.

With only 10% beginner terrain it’s not always suggested for those wishing to learn, however if you are staying in Wanaka it is the closest ski field, and its quiet atmosphere and FREE beginner lift pass is a bonus. Once you’ve taken those first steps there is one of the longest beginner runs, Rollercoaster,  giving you plenty of time to master linking those turns- snowboards beware- you need to turn, it really is a rollercoaster down here!

There are a couple of Ski suggestions for Treble cone as the skiing possibilities are endless. GS is definitely suggested to achieve the longest run within the South Island without burning out. Opt for a big mountain ski on a powder day and explore the Saddle and Backcountry beyond. Always carry Avalanche safety equipment and a Beacon. Enjoy!

Treble Cone Trail map ski wanaka Outside Sports NZ

Treble Cone Trail Map.

There's also a great choice of heli-skiing in the local mountain ranges around the Southern alps for the powder seekers. 

Book Ski and Snowboard hire with Outside Sports Wanaka and Queenstown, providing a great range of top quality equipment from kids, beginners, women's specific, race skis, park and all mountain to powder skis for that ultimate heli-ski trip. Outside Sports, Where Adventures Begin!

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