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    Queenstown - New Zealand's ski mecca

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    Treble Cone - the best skiing in New Zealand

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    Wanaka - the world's prettiest ski town

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    Coronet Peak - the most popular ski mountain

Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 1,168 metres (Coronet Peak - lowest)

Top elevation: 2,088 metres (Treble Cone - highest)

Number of lifts: 27 (across four mountains)

Number of runs: Lots - too many to count across all four ski mountains!

Access: Flights in to Queenstown from Auckland or Christchurch.

Queenstown & Wanaka Piste Maps

Suggested Itineraries

With the same mountains accessible from either ski town in the valley, it’s a straightforward choice between Queenstown and Wanaka. This is where you’ll sleep, eat, drink, relax and make merry. Are you a ‘Queenstowner’ or a ‘Wanakby’?  It’s a wonderful decision to face, as there’s no wrong answer…. our problem is that we love both.

Queenstown

Few towns in the world - if any - have such a dramatic setting. On the shores of Lake Wakatipu and backed by the dramatic Remarkables Mountains, Queenstown is so pretty it hurts. Yet, whilst the views are consistently serene, the town’s true nature is anything but tranquil. Billing itself as the ‘adventure capital of the world’ [sic] Queenstown is famous for both its on and off the snow activities. The menu of high adrenaline adventures available in the surrounding Southern Alps is extensive and this creates a lively atmosphere in the town. Queenstown is abuzz with revelry. With up-market boutique lodges to cheap’n’cheerful backpacker lodges, some of New Zealand’s finest restaurants jostle for space with take-away vans, all contributing to the heady and inclusive mix that is modern-day Queenstown.

Wanaka

Few towns in the world - if any - have so dramatic a setting. Sound familiar? When it comes to the beauty of its location, then anything Queenstown can do, Wanaka can do….well, just as well! This is a smaller, postcard-perfect town on the willow-clad shores of Lake Wanaka, the dramatic gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park – New Zealand’s most beautiful region (and that’s some boast!). Wanaka is quieter than it’s noisy neighbor, more laid back. A place in which to become utterly absorbed. However, there is no getting away from the fact that this is still a thriving ski town, with a buzz on the streets. Indeed, National Geographic voted Wanaka one of the ‘World’s Best Ski Towns’ - the only Southern Hemisphere place to make the list.

Skiing in Queenstown & Wanaka

There are four ski mountains surrounding Queenstown and Wanaka, accessible from both and each with its own distinct character. This is where Different Snow come in – we’ve skied them all (some more than others) and can create an itinerary to suit your ability and ambition.  Let’s take you through the options;

Coronet Peak

Closest to Queenstown, this is (arguably) New Zealand’s most famous and popular ski mountain. Lifts are modern and efficient, terrain is varied and immaculately groomed, state-of-the-art snowmaking systems guarantee dependable and consistent snow conditions, night skiing is an option and the base area has a brilliant great day lodge, with all the facilities. This is the no-nonsense, dependable, all-rounder ski mountain.

Mother Nature has played a starring role here, as the above the tree-line terrain is varied and holds interest for all levels of skier and boarder – those who like to carve super-G turns on groomers being particularly happy. In New Zealand, blue means red and there’re a lot of blue, assailing a near perfect fall line for the happy intermediate skier. The lifts get you back with a minimum of fuss so you can really lay down the miles on well-groomed trails. Coronet Peak’s also has a little fun for advanced skiers and riders, particularly those with a penchant for moguls.

It’s worth staying up on the mountain for the night skiing over the weekends – with the stars sparkling above and amazing views down to the lights of Queenstown below, it’s simply magical.

The Remarkables

The ‘Remarks’, as we cool-kids like to call it, is on one of the most photographed mountain ranges in the world, due to the spectacular jagged shapes and the steep rise above the shores of Lake Wakatipu.  It’s not a huge ski field, yet because it’s made up a three north facing bowls that are frequently sunny and sheltered from the elements, this means it’s less inclined to frustrate with those dreaded ‘closed days’. It bills itself as a resort best suited to novices - wide, gentle slopes – and freestylers – New Zealand’s best terrain parks. However, when the snow is just right here it becomes a dream mountain for the big mountain aficionado, with some steep terrain, bowls and chutes for those who don’t mind hiking to find the best lines.

We like the atmosphere at The Remarkables – it’s sun-kissed slopes are very relaxed, reflected in its popularity with the locals. Snowmaking in the terrain parks and beginners’ area guarantees excellent coverage most of the time.

Treble Cone

This is the mountain with the largest skiable terrain, spread over three large basins, and the highest vertical rise. It’s notable because of the long, uncrowded, leg-burning groomed slopes, and sheer variety of options beyond, undeniably with something for everyone. No wonder Treble Cone is our favourite ski mountain in New Zealand.

Okay, so there are only four lifts, but these have been well planned (most notably the six-person express lift) and provide access to an incredible number of trails and off-piste bowls. Lift queues are a total non-issue. The first thing you’ll notice is that the mountain is steep, ever-so-steep, but on further examination you’ll find winding runs carving through the terrain, ensuring most ability levels stay reasonably happy. But, if you are so inclined, you’ll also find New Zealand’s most revered gullies, chutes, bowls and drops. This is the place for a powder day.

Treble Cone has the highest average annual snowfall of all the New Zealand ski mountains. And, tearing ourselves away from discussing the amazing ski terrain, it is also renowned for its spectacular scenery – there is a edge of the world sensation as you look out across Lake Wanaka and across to Mt Aspiring.  

Cardrona

The ski field of choice for those who prefer their groomers with girth, beginners and intermediates will love the space afforded the open terrain and undulating slopes. Cardrona is a real favourite of those looking to gain confidence and progress. Those who are already at the next level are probably skiing down the road in Treble Cone!  

Like Cornet Peak - Cardrona is a reasonably good all-rounder of a mountain and is always our pick for the warm-up day.  The lift system is good, with four quad chairlifts, and the south facing aspect really helps when it comes to snow retention, though snowmaking is often used in main traffic areas. Views across the mountains and down into the South Lake Valley are truly beautiful, but we’re aware we’ve claimed this for all mountains. Let’s just say it's a New Zealand truism.

We should mention that Cardrona is also renowned for its freestyle terrain parks, of which there are no less than four. You’ll find a 22 foot Olympic super pipe here – sounds terrifying to us.

Coronet Peak – With a spacious and gentle novice area, exclusively for new starters and served by magic carpet lifts, novices are kept well away from the bigger mountain. Transition is then to the aptly named ‘The Big Easy’ and ‘Gentle Annie’ runs, both served by an easy-to-negotiate chair.

The Remarkables – Has one of the best learner areas in the region where, just below the main base area , you’ll find a tow lift and three magic carpets. There are similarly slopes surrounding for when you are ready to take your next step up.

Treble Cone Skiing – This resort is largely aimed to the opposite end of the spectrum, but there is one nice and gentle slope on which to learn, serviced by a magic carpet and the ‘Nice ‘N’ Easy’ lift. See what they’ve done there?

Cardrona – the pick of the bunch – all the green slopes are within range of the base area and progression from here is both convenient and non-intimidating. The entire are is dedicated to novice skiers and boarders and you’ll be left in peace.

Coronet Peak – The pitch just about perfect, the grooming is out of the top-drawer and most of the resort is made up of blue runs - which is the NZ  version of ‘red’. Therefore, it’s just about perfect, and carving out epic turns from top to bottom and then jumping on the super-fast Coronet Express to whizz you back up in no time will soon have you clocking off the miles. This is a resort for building up speed and blowing away your jetlag.

The Remarkables – There’s plenty to go at, but it’s intermittent and the runs are often over before you know it. It’s okay…but the other resorts have perhaps more to offer if you’re focused on skiing long and hard all day. Perhaps the thrill here is to ‘get involved’ in the terrain parks or dipping your skis off the sides of the piste.

Treble Cone - Give Treble Cone your best days and be handsomely rewarded. It may take you a little out of your comfort zone at times – the groomers are steep and fast – but the lasting sensation is one of utter enjoyment. With an efficient lift system and monster ski zone, you’ll get through a huge amount of skiing when you put peddle to the metal.

Cardrona – If Treble Cone is upper-intermediate territory, then Cardrona is the lower-intermediate equivalent. With a large proportion denoted as blue (i.e. easy red, by our terms) there is plenty to get your edges biting and legs burning.

Coronet Peak – With thirty percent of the mountain given over to black runs, there is much to explore. They love a mogul or several-hundred here and, in this treeless wonderland, it’s easy to head off the side of the groomers and find chutes and steeper lines to play with. Head out to the back bowls which are south facing, so often with better snow - this is where the fun terrain lives and you might even find some fresh tracks on a powder day.

The Remarkables  - In this resort aimed at newbies and families, you will actually also find some of New Zealand's finest black runs. Without any doubt whatsoever, The Remarkables is worth at least a day of your time. The runs may be short but, my goodness, they are sweet.

Treble Cone – The place to come. You could spend a week just here. This is the absolute strength of the Treble Cone – always steep, often narrow and full of challenge. It’s an advanced skier’s dream with plenty of lines to choose from along ridges and down through gullies that lead to nice stashes of powder. Here, you approach the blacks with some trepidation and, if icy, some runs can be quite dangerous for the inexperienced skier due to the un-remitting steepness. The gradient progressively diminishes as you get down the mountain, offering some respite.

Cardrona – Great for a warm-up day. But that’s about it.

New Zealand is a place for grown-ups and skiers are left to make their own decisions. If heading off piste you must be equipped with full avalanche equipment and take all the sensible precautions – don't ski on your own, let the patrol know where you're going and actively seek local advice / knowledge, which trumps all else .

Coronet Peak - Most stay in-bounds here, but there are plenty of opportunities to get off the pisted trails around the fringes of the resort.

The Remarkables – You’ll find a large gentle basin of off-piste merriment which is absolutely awesome on a powder day. It takes you all the way down to the road where shuttle buses will take you back up to the base area. If you are prepared to earn your turns. then take a hike up to the unfortunately named Toilet Bowl – another large bowl on the left of the the resort.

Treble Cone - Opportunities are boundless and, with a modicum of effort, you’ll find all you are looking for – narrow chutes, luxuriant bowls, thrilling gullies and naturally formed half-pipes. A veritable winter playground not to be missed – but we’d encourage you to engage the services of a backcountry guide to get the max out of the mountain.

Cardrona - Powder days are neither common nor deep. If you insist, then much of the ‘Captain’s’ area can be fun practice ground in which to hone skills.

Kiwi’s love to snowboard and you’ll find an equal split between the disciplines when on the mountain. Terrain park addicts will be in heaven in The Remarkables, a freestyling playground with excitement for all levels. They even have a specially built hut, with a great roof to jump off.

Up on the ski mountains you’ll find everything you need for a family ski holiday – crèche’s, nursery slopes, kid-friendly ski schools, play zones and kiddy-focused terrain parks. Coronet Peak & Cardrona both have much and are totally kid-aligned, yet it’s The Remarkables which trumps the lot with its wonderful novice area - parents can chill on the sun deck or patio and keep an eye on the children. Also, the Ozone tube park is great fun for those who’ve had enough of skiing for the day. All told, it’s an incredibly family-friendly ski mountain, with a wonderfully laid back atmosphere.

Where to ski now sorted, what about where to stay? Queenstown or Wanaka? It’s six and two three’s really - both have babysitting services (often at your accommodation) and every facility a family could wish for. Off the slopes, there is plenty to keep all age groups thoroughly entertained- if pushed, Queenstown is the larger of the two so it stands to reason that it has more to offer.  

Throughout the day Queenstown has a vibrant café culture and even in the depths of winter you’ll find people sitting outside enjoying a soya-mocha-latte or craft beer. Many also have open fires inside, which is the more sensible choice.

However, its when evening comes and everyone gets back from their ski mountain of choice that Queenstown comes to life - après drinks turn into dinner, turn in to late cocktails, turn in to….well, stay out as late as you want. Or don’t – a nice stroll along the lakefront, quick bite and then early to bed is an option preferred by many.

Restaurants range from some amazing fine-dining options to earthy cafés, pub grub, and cheap eats in the food courts. Late-night options include swanky wine bars, pubs with DJs, nightclubs, garden bars, several live-houses and good old-fashioned pubs- everything to suit all ages and tastes, from the well heeled to the ski bums.

And Wanaka isn’t half bad either. Okay, so it sets itself up to be more introverted than Queenstown, but you’ll still find plenty of wonderful restaurants, cafés and bars to suit all tastes and budgets. Most are on the main street, which over-looks Lake Wanaka. The crowd in Wanaka can sometimes be a little grungier, it lacks the glitz that can be found in Queenstown, but this does not mean you are slumming it - some of the finest lodges and upmarket eateries jostle for space amongst the earthy cafés and buzzy bars.  

Many restaurants in both Queenstown and Wanaka really like to feature fresh local produce and wines. We strongly urge you to hone in on this – fall-off-the-bone-tender lamb shanks, accompanied by a fine Otago pinot…..

Coronet Peak – With a spacious and gentle novice area, exclusively for new starters and served by magic carpet lifts, novices are kept well away from the bigger mountain. Transition is then to the aptly named ‘The Big Easy’ and ‘Gentle Annie’ runs, both served by an easy-to-negotiate chair.

The Remarkables – Has one of the best learner areas in the region where, just below the main base area , you’ll find a tow lift and three magic carpets. There are similarly slopes surrounding for when you are ready to take your next step up.

Treble Cone Skiing – This resort is largely aimed to the opposite end of the spectrum, but there is one nice and gentle slope on which to learn, serviced by a magic carpet and the ‘Nice ‘N’ Easy’ lift. See what they’ve done there?

Cardrona – the pick of the bunch – all the green slopes are within range of the base area and progression from here is both convenient and non-intimidating. The entire are is dedicated to novice skiers and boarders and you’ll be left in peace.

Coronet Peak – The pitch just about perfect, the grooming is out of the top-drawer and most of the resort is made up of blue runs - which is the NZ  version of ‘red’. Therefore, it’s just about perfect, and carving out epic turns from top to bottom and then jumping on the super-fast Coronet Express to whizz you back up in no time will soon have you clocking off the miles. This is a resort for building up speed and blowing away your jetlag.

The Remarkables – There’s plenty to go at, but it’s intermittent and the runs are often over before you know it. It’s okay…but the other resorts have perhaps more to offer if you’re focused on skiing long and hard all day. Perhaps the thrill here is to ‘get involved’ in the terrain parks or dipping your skis off the sides of the piste.

Treble Cone - Give Treble Cone your best days and be handsomely rewarded. It may take you a little out of your comfort zone at times – the groomers are steep and fast – but the lasting sensation is one of utter enjoyment. With an efficient lift system and monster ski zone, you’ll get through a huge amount of skiing when you put peddle to the metal.

Cardrona – If Treble Cone is upper-intermediate territory, then Cardrona is the lower-intermediate equivalent. With a large proportion denoted as blue (i.e. easy red, by our terms) there is plenty to get your edges biting and legs burning.

Coronet Peak – With thirty percent of the mountain given over to black runs, there is much to explore. They love a mogul or several-hundred here and, in this treeless wonderland, it’s easy to head off the side of the groomers and find chutes and steeper lines to play with. Head out to the back bowls which are south facing, so often with better snow - this is where the fun terrain lives and you might even find some fresh tracks on a powder day.

The Remarkables  - In this resort aimed at newbies and families, you will actually also find some of New Zealand's finest black runs. Without any doubt whatsoever, The Remarkables is worth at least a day of your time. The runs may be short but, my goodness, they are sweet.

Treble Cone – The place to come. You could spend a week just here. This is the absolute strength of the Treble Cone – always steep, often narrow and full of challenge. It’s an advanced skier’s dream with plenty of lines to choose from along ridges and down through gullies that lead to nice stashes of powder. Here, you approach the blacks with some trepidation and, if icy, some runs can be quite dangerous for the inexperienced skier due to the un-remitting steepness. The gradient progressively diminishes as you get down the mountain, offering some respite.

Cardrona – Great for a warm-up day. But that’s about it.

New Zealand is a place for grown-ups and skiers are left to make their own decisions. If heading off piste you must be equipped with full avalanche equipment and take all the sensible precautions – don't ski on your own, let the patrol know where you're going and actively seek local advice / knowledge, which trumps all else .

Coronet Peak - Most stay in-bounds here, but there are plenty of opportunities to get off the pisted trails around the fringes of the resort.

The Remarkables – You’ll find a large gentle basin of off-piste merriment which is absolutely awesome on a powder day. It takes you all the way down to the road where shuttle buses will take you back up to the base area. If you are prepared to earn your turns. then take a hike up to the unfortunately named Toilet Bowl – another large bowl on the left of the the resort.

Treble Cone - Opportunities are boundless and, with a modicum of effort, you’ll find all you are looking for – narrow chutes, luxuriant bowls, thrilling gullies and naturally formed half-pipes. A veritable winter playground not to be missed – but we’d encourage you to engage the services of a backcountry guide to get the max out of the mountain.

Cardrona - Powder days are neither common nor deep. If you insist, then much of the ‘Captain’s’ area can be fun practice ground in which to hone skills.

Kiwi’s love to snowboard and you’ll find an equal split between the disciplines when on the mountain. Terrain park addicts will be in heaven in The Remarkables, a freestyling playground with excitement for all levels. They even have a specially built hut, with a great roof to jump off.

Up on the ski mountains you’ll find everything you need for a family ski holiday – crèche’s, nursery slopes, kid-friendly ski schools, play zones and kiddy-focused terrain parks. Coronet Peak & Cardrona both have much and are totally kid-aligned, yet it’s The Remarkables which trumps the lot with its wonderful novice area - parents can chill on the sun deck or patio and keep an eye on the children. Also, the Ozone tube park is great fun for those who’ve had enough of skiing for the day. All told, it’s an incredibly family-friendly ski mountain, with a wonderfully laid back atmosphere.

Where to ski now sorted, what about where to stay? Queenstown or Wanaka? It’s six and two three’s really - both have babysitting services (often at your accommodation) and every facility a family could wish for. Off the slopes, there is plenty to keep all age groups thoroughly entertained- if pushed, Queenstown is the larger of the two so it stands to reason that it has more to offer.  

Throughout the day Queenstown has a vibrant café culture and even in the depths of winter you’ll find people sitting outside enjoying a soya-mocha-latte or craft beer. Many also have open fires inside, which is the more sensible choice.

However, its when evening comes and everyone gets back from their ski mountain of choice that Queenstown comes to life - après drinks turn into dinner, turn in to late cocktails, turn in to….well, stay out as late as you want. Or don’t – a nice stroll along the lakefront, quick bite and then early to bed is an option preferred by many.

Restaurants range from some amazing fine-dining options to earthy cafés, pub grub, and cheap eats in the food courts. Late-night options include swanky wine bars, pubs with DJs, nightclubs, garden bars, several live-houses and good old-fashioned pubs- everything to suit all ages and tastes, from the well heeled to the ski bums.

And Wanaka isn’t half bad either. Okay, so it sets itself up to be more introverted than Queenstown, but you’ll still find plenty of wonderful restaurants, cafés and bars to suit all tastes and budgets. Most are on the main street, which over-looks Lake Wanaka. The crowd in Wanaka can sometimes be a little grungier, it lacks the glitz that can be found in Queenstown, but this does not mean you are slumming it - some of the finest lodges and upmarket eateries jostle for space amongst the earthy cafés and buzzy bars.  

Many restaurants in both Queenstown and Wanaka really like to feature fresh local produce and wines. We strongly urge you to hone in on this – fall-off-the-bone-tender lamb shanks, accompanied by a fine Otago pinot…..

Getting There

These ski towns are right down in the deepest South-West corner of New Zealand’s South Island. Fortunately Queenstown has its own major airport, though the only international flights flying here come in from Australia. Everyone else needs to change planes in either Auckland (which is a one hour, fifty minute flight away), or Christchurch (a one hour flight from Queenstown). As an aside, there are no flights in or out of Queenstown after twilight – it’s one of those ‘exciting’ airports to land in.

Wanaka is 40 miles North of Queenstown and it does also have its own (small) regional airport. Eagle Air (a subsidiary of Air New Zealand) operates one flight a day, this time from Christchurch only. Otherwise, the only way to get to Wanaka is to either hire a car to drive from Queenstown (one hour – see below) or Christchurch (six hours), or we can arrange a direct transfer from Queenstown airport to your accommodation in Wanaka.

The Crown Range Road is the most direct link between Queenstown and Wanaka (less than one hour). There are buses operating throughout he day, stopping at Queenstown Airport and, on the rare occasion when conditions don’t allow, then there is also a main state highway which will add another 30 minutes to the journey.

Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 1,168 metres (Coronet Peak - lowest)

Top elevation: 2,088 metres (Treble Cone - highest)

Number of lifts: 27 (across four mountains)

Number of runs: Lots - too many to count across all four ski mountains!

Access: Flights in to Queenstown from Auckland or Christchurch.

Queenstown & Wanaka Piste Maps

Suggested Itineraries