Just a 40 minute drive from Queenstown, The Remarkables offer up an incredible range of terrain, even for expert skiers. Take the Shadow Basin chair and the short hike up to the finger chutes of Escalator and Elevator for some of New Zealand’s finest black runs.
You can also try some backcountry skiing on in-bounds terrain on the Homeward Bound trails accessed via the Shadow Basin Chairlift. You’ll end up beyond the reach of the lifts, but don’t worry about hiking back to the resort – you can easily catch the bus from the access road and back to the main ski area.
Riding up the chairlift to the top of Coronet Peak, you might just see skiers and snowboarders heading over to the back bowls. If that’s not enough to get your juices flowing then hit the hard packed gates where the US Ski Team recently trained.
At just 20 minutes from central Queenstown, Coronet Peak offers night skiing on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, which can be a whole lot of fun after a day exploring Queenstown’s adventure activities on offer (bungy and jet boating, anyone?).
Cardrona Alpine Resort
Two words for you: Olympic Superpipe. Some of the world’s best riders have trained at Cardrona over the years, including Torah Bright, Chloe Kim, Scotty James, Kiwi freeskiers Janina Kuzma and Nico Porteous, plus snowboarding’s biggest name – Shaun White. It’s no ordinary halfpipe either, it’s 22 foot walls, make it the same size as the superpipes ridden by the pros in the Winter Olympics and the X-Games.
If you’re not feeling brave enough to try the Superpipe, Cardrona also has a halfpipe with 12 foot walls, located next to the Superpipe. You can get comfortable on the halfpipe while checking out what the pros might be doing on the big boy.
More of an expert ski jumper? Cardrona has you covered with the Cardrona Big Air – a mammoth jump with an 85 foot table, offering up some serious air time. Located above the base area, it’s also excellent for spectators.
Be sure to arrive in time for the Jossi Wells Invitational Big Air spring competition if you want to see some record-breaking tricks. Only an hours drive from Queenstown, it’s an easy day trip to make.
Treble Cone is located about 1.5 hour’s drive from Queenstown and also happens to be the largest ski area in the South Island, with 700m of vertical terrain. While there’s beginner and intermediate runs, powder hunters can warm up in the Saddle Basin and Summit Slope, an advanced skiing area that offers great snow alongside some drops and natural half-pipes.
For the real goodness, head to the expert-only zone, Motatapu Chutes. Although the chutes are within the patrolled area of Treble Cone, it’s still a backcountry experience. This is the playground of international freeskiers, including Freeride World Tour legend Sam Smoothy. They all come for the cliffs, the great lines and the powder.
The epic views from Treble Cone don’t hurt either. Hike up to the summit to look over the mountains from the back side, or get up early enough to watch the sunrise over the lake.
Southern Lakes Heli Ski
Epic powder, open bowls, chutes, drops, natural half pipes, and runs that have anywhere from 600m to 1000m of vertical in one hit, this is the highest heli skiing available in the Southern Lakes region. With access to over 600 runs spread over 11 mountain ranges, you’ll be able to access terrain that’s worthy of any ski movie.
The Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival for hard core après ski
Queenstown’s all about the vibes. As a city full of great food, fantastic pubs, bars and clubs, and views that make it one of the most beautiful spots in the world, it has a lot going for it.
Try and time your visit with the Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival, which has a line-up of on mountain events featuring some of the best pro riders, alongside some genuinely brave souls. In this year’s line-up, put the Brecon Street Rail Showdown in your calendar, right alongside The Hits 90.4 Birdman, where contenders launch themselves with enthusiasm right into Lake Wakatipu. Now that’s brave! This year’s festival runs 18 – 21 June 2020 and will be an event not to be missed!