New Zealand is the perfect place to learn to ski or snowboard, as the ski fields are extremely friendly. If you are new in this field and a learner then the areas in the commercial ski fields have either a cheaper lift pass or are free for you. Once you think you have mastered turning without being a danger to everyone around you, ski fields such as The Remarkables and Whakapapa have wide runs with a steady gradient to build on the vertical metres, while improving on your newfound skills.
For advanced skiers and boarders, there are plenty of technical trails to be found with enough snow in all ski fields. You can try Treble Cone or Porters for especially technical runs to get your thighs burning. Almost all fields offer some sort of terrain park, whether it is The Stash at The Remarkables, which makes features from natural materials, Park After Dark at Coronet Peak, or the staff at a club field pushing some picnic tables together.
This year the Ski season in Queenstown and Wanaka runs from early to mid June through to early October both places depending on snow fall. The mountains are high and powdery enough in winter to offer excellent ski terrain. With some of the best ski fields and authentic ski experiences in the Southern Hemisphere. The ski fields tend to be open from early June to the end of September.
Commercial Ski Fields
The commercial ski fields have a café, bar, retail, equipment hire, first aid and ski school. They have groomed runs, chairlifts and some have snow cannons.
- Whakapapa (North Island)
- Turoa (North Island)
- Mt Hutt
- Coronet Peak
- The Remarkables
- Treble Cone
- Mt Dobson
- Mt Lyford
- Ohau Snow Fields
1. Club Ski Fields
Usually independently or family-owned, club fields are smaller ranging from 60ha to 500ha. Expect basic facilities but less crowded trails.
- Fox Peak
- Hanmer Springs
- Temple Basin
- Broken River
- Mt Cheesman
- Mt Olympus
- Tukino (North Island)
- Manganui (North Island)
There are four main ski fields accessible from Queenstown and Wanaka: The Remarkables, Cardrona, Coronet Peak and Treble Cone. The approximate opening dates for the ski fields for Queenstown and Wanaka in 2017 are as follows:
- Cardrona – 10th June – 08th October
- Coronet Peak – 10th June – 01st October
- The Remarkables – 17th June – 01st October
- Treble Cone – 07th July – 01st October
Each year the quaint picturesque towns of Queenstown and Wanaka welcome snow junkies from across the globe. With direct flights from Australia to Queenstown, as well as from Auckland and Christchurch, these locations are easy to get to. Wanaka is located just a one hour drive from Queenstown and transport to and from the two towns are easy enough to book. Base Backpackers are located right in the heart of both Queenstown and Wanaka.
Queenstown is New Zealand’s adventure capital with a bustling night life – offering Bungy Jumping, Jet Boating, Skydiving and basically any adventure sport you can think of. The town is heaving with snow enthusiasts throughout the entire season. Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are the two closest ski fields to Queenstown.
Wanaka is a quieter version of Queenstown that tends to attract boarders and skiers looking to steer clear of the crowds. Treble Cone and Cardrona (although accessible from Queenstown) are the two main fields close to Wanaka. Wanaka is situated on Lake Wanaka and proves to be a sight for sore eyes – think snow-capped mountains, log fires, cozy couches and mulled wine!
2. Coronet Peak
Coronet Peak is the closest Ski Field to Queenstown, just a 20 minute drive away. Coronet Peak caters for all levels and is a great place for beginners. Return buses depart from the Snow Centre (just a 5 minute walk from Base Queenstown) all day long for $20 and will drop you right at the base of Coronet Peak.
Coronet Peak offers night skiiing Friday and Saturday nights 4 – 9PM as well as number of events such as the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival and DNA Gay Ski Week. The Terrain: 25% Beginner/Novice, 45% Intermediate, 30% Advanced
3. The Remarkables
The Remarkables tend to be a favorite for the more experienced skiers and snowboarders whilst offering three terrain parks. The field is a 45-minute drive from Queenstown and buses depart from the Snow Centre (just down the road from Base) for a $20 return. The Terrain: 30% Beginner/Novice, 40% Intermediate, 30% Advanced – also a Terrain Park suited for beginners through to intermediate
Cardrona is accessible from both Wanaka and Queenstown; 35 minutes from Wanaka and one hour from Queenstown. Cardrona tends to get more snow as the base of the ski field is actually higher than neighbouring Remarkables and Coronet Peak. The field is family friendly but boasts a number of Intermediate & Advanced tracks. Buses can be booked from both Wanaka and Queenstown. The Terrain: 25% Beginner, 55% Intermediate, 20% Advanced
Treble Cone is a favorite among the more experienced snow junkies with 10% Beginner Tracks, 45% Intermediate Tracks and 45% Advanced Tracks. Treble Cone has the highest vertical rise of the four fields and 550 hectares of the ski field. Treble Cone is just a 35-minute drive from Wanaka and a 75-minute drive from Queenstown. Transport to the field can be arranged from both locations. The Terrain: 10% Beginner, 45% Intermediate, 45% Advanced
Packages and Accommodation
You will find Base Backpackers in both Queenstown and Wanaka. Both hostels have a dedicated Travel Desk that can provide you with information and help you with Transport, Lift Passes, Lessons and Gear Hire.
In both locations Base Backpackers is right in the centre of town, offering both Dorm and Private Accommodation as well as Female only Sanctuary Dorms. The hostels have large Kitchens & Common Areas, Laundry Facilities, a Bar serving Food and Entertainment 7 nights of the week, 24-hour reception, Daily Activities & Drying Rooms.
Events and Activities
Each Ski Season, Wanaka and Queenstown play host to a number of major events. The Base Backpackers Bars: Loco Cantina and Mint Bar will be hosting an array of Live DJs and Acts throughout the season. To keep in touch with Events:
Other Events and Activities to enjoy at Queenstown and Wanaka
2017 American Express Winter Festival
22nd June – 25th June in Queenstown. Live DJs, Hot Tub Outdoor Cinema Sessions, Pop up Bars and more! More information here.
2017 DNA Gay Ski Week
The colour comes to Queenstown at the end of August every year! 2017’s dates are yet to be announced – stay tuned. Live Music, the annual ‘Snow Ball,’ Circus Acts, Cabaret & more! More info click here
2017 NZ Mountain Film Festival
30th June – 9th July in Wanaka & 6th – 8th July in Queenstown. The festival will showcase International Adventure Films as well as play host to a photography and film competition. For programme information click here
Queenstown is the home of Bungy Jumping. Here you will find three Bungy sites: Kawarau Bridge, the Ledge and the infamous 134m Nevis Bungy Jump! In Queenstown, you will also have the opportunity to Hang glide, Paraglide, Jet Boat, Sky Dive & Raft, along with many other adventure options.
Lake Wanaka is also a fantastic place to skydive with amazing views of the ski fields. It is also one of the cheapest places in New Zealand to book an Aerobatic Flight Lesson (from $190), as well as Kayaking, Paddle Boarding, Indoor Rock Climbing and more. Both Base hostels have a Travel Desk that will be able to assist you with any activities.