First thing’s first – how do you get there? Queenstown has an international airport well serviced with direct flights from the east coast of Australia and the North Island’s main cities. The airport is located just 15 minutes from downtown Queenstown. It’s a hop, skip and a jump whether you’re taking the bus, catching a taxi or driving.
Getting to the ski fields is just as easy. There are a host of car rental options but if you don’t fancy driving, then there are ski shuttles and mountain transport options to take you from your hotel to the slopes, so consider yourself covered.
As for equipment, leave yours at home and hire skis or snowboards when you get to town. Most ski rental shops will deliver your gear to your accommodation, or you can just rent at the ski resort and pick up when you arrive and drop off when you’re done for the day. If you left your goggles or gloves in the garage at home, don’t despair – the town is also full of big-name sports equipment stores for those last-minute purchases.
Now, back to the slopes. Coronet Peak is closest to Queenstown so you can do First Tracks on its spectacular roller coaster terrain from 8am-9am and be back downtown by mid-morning. Then you can spend the afternoon exploring the wineries or tackling some more adventure activities. Coronet Peak is also open for night skiing on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, giving you plenty of options to ensure you make the most of both ski-time and town-time.
The Remarkables base lodge is the best in New Zealand, with soaring glass walls, relaxation dens and fresh food, and it’s ski-in, ski-out so you can rest your weary legs. If you drove yourself, shuttles give you a ride from the car park to the base lodge, where you can pick up your lift pass and then ski out the door. The views on the drive up are impressive and the expansive learner’s area makes it a great mountain for first-timers on a ski lesson.
Got little ones in tow? Take the kids to Cardrona and hand them over to the fully licensed childcare centre (perfect for children from three months to five years old). Toddlers will love the snow play at Ski Kindy. The older ones will totally dig the four-day Adventure Programmes where they’ll make plenty of friends. Cardrona is great for beginners with its wide open slopes and brand new chondola, a ‘combined’ lift of gondola cabins and chairs, making it easy for first time skiers and snowboarders to ride to the top of the mountain on their first day.
Treble Cone near Wanaka is worth the drive for the vistas from the chairlift alone. There is simply no other ski field in the world with a view as spectacular as this one. Even if you spend your day on the deck sipping flat whites while drinking in the view, then you’ve had a day well spent. But you’ll want to click into skis or a snowboard, take a lesson, and discover the open bowls, off-piste powder and super groomers the mountain is known for.
The next level
If you’ve always dreamed of heliskiing, then Queenstown is a great place to try it, from taster four-run days in virgin-snow terrain to full-day private charters. The heliski company will pick you up from your accommodation and deliver you back, buzzing from a bucket-list experience worth boasting about.