NZ is blessed with some amazing & unique ski areas. On a global scale we may look small on the map, but we feel that what NZ offers, is totally unique.
We've written a wee bit about each of the ski areas that are "local" to the Queenstown Southern Lakes Region, so that you can see what each is really like.
CLICK on the ski areas shown on the map below for a full run down of what the ski area is really like. We pride ourselves on not being affiliated with any particular ski area, therefore we can give you the honest lowdown on what is great about each mountain.
When you’re in town come in and ask us for the real between-the-lines, face-to-face snow & weather updates. Talk to us, exchange stories, triumphs & challenges.
Closest ski area to Queenstown, about 25 mins drive (18km)
What's "The Peak" really like?
More terrain than on most mountains five times the size with a myriad of different ways "down". Even those of us who have skied The Peak season after season, can still find new fun runs and surprises.
It's the 3rd steepest ski area in NZ averaging 27 degrees of pitch. Mostly intermediate and advanced terrain although the beginners slopes have been extended to increase capacity and there are several dedicated beginner carpets and Meadows Chairlift. Previous seasons have occasionally seen 'standing room only' on the beginner slopes. Coronet can suffer from 'Loud Powder' and in springtime due to its low altitude (the base building is at 1200m), it can melt and re-freeze so good edges are pretty handy! The extensive snowmaking provides over 200 fully automated guns which means that coverage is extended over virtually the whole mountain. You want to get there early on powder days as the locals will utilise their First Tracks (8-9am) passes for sure. You can purchase a First Tracks pass on the mountain in conjunction with your day pass (you can't buy it on its own). The off-piste is extensive and wicked! There is night skiing mid-July to mid-Sept, on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, which is also great fun.
About 45 mins drive (28km) from Queenstown
What are "The Remarks" really like?
Affectionately known by Locals as "The Country Club", a relaxed but professional atmosphere is apparent at what is truly a high alpine ski area complete with protected Alpine Parrots called Kea.
The extra elevation over its sister ski area Coronet Peak (the new base building is at the same height as the top of Coronet Peak), ensures that snow conditions stay good despite basking in all day sunshine! The ski area is a paradise for beginners, intermediates, freestylers and families. The Curvey Basin charlift built in 2014 has added hugely to Remarkables experience. Curvey Basin transports 2,800 people per hour and takes only 7 minutes to travel the 1.2km line. There is also some extremely steep and challenging off piste for advanced and expert skiers & riders, provided you are prepared to walk a bit. The Alta Chutes (a 10 to 20min walk accessed from Shadow Basin) progress from mild, to suicidal. Homeward Bound run (1.5km) descends well below the ski area proper and is akin to a gentle heliski run without the helicopter! A shuttle bus returns you to the ski area. For the adventurous and very fit, the skiing in the Doolans and Wye Creek Basins is outstanding and occasionally used by heliski companies. You need skins, and MUST check in with Ski Patrol before going as it’s outside the ski area boundary. There is a dedicated terrain park in Sugar Bowl for beginners, plus 2 other terrain parks so everyone can have a lot of fun. There is also a two lane Ozone Tubing Park for more all-around family fun which is now visible from the base building as it is located near Lower Gallery & Pump House conveyer. The "very scenic" road to the ski area is sealed to around the 10 km mark from the bottom. Due to its high elevation and true alpine nature, weather conditions can change quickly so it’s always a good idea to make sure your ski bag has gear to handle extremes of weather. Good sunscreen is a must! From the 2013 season, Remarkables has been a smoke free environment.
New for 2017:
The 5.5 kms of road sealed for last season has had its second and final seal, and there will be new snow clearing equipment working on the road. The original base building has been destroyed, increasing the skiable terrain. The double conveyor lifts in the beginners area have been fully enclosed, protecting users from the weather whilst they can still see out. The medical facility has been moved to the bottom of Curvey Basin lift, so there is easier access for ambulances.
Approx. 60 mins from Queenstown (via Crown Range) and 35 mins from Wanaka.
What's 'Cardies' really like?
Some mountains claim to have something for everyone - usually erroneously, but Cardrona's claim is bona fide! Ideal for Skiers, Snowboarders - Everybody!
Cardrona, situated on the Crown Range between Wanaka and Queenstown, is an all-round field that has the most extensive Terrain Park & Halfpipe facilities in the Southern Hemisphere. There are 4 Terrain Parks, a Big Air & Gravity Cross and 2 Halfpipes (including a 22ft Olympic Superpipe). There really is something for all levels in this Freestyler haven. No wonder the Wells Boys are so awesome with Cardrona as their playground!
For those who have the attitude, "I believe it when I ski it" - this is the place for you; three large open basins with all kinds of terrain and challenges for every ability. There is a huge and genuine learner’s area with many different lines available. Learners have the option of doing the "Grand Traverse" which entails skiing from one side of the mountain across all three basins and back again - all without scaring themselves! There are some great chutes in the Arcadia Basin where advanced skiers and riders could keep themselves amused all day. Captain's Basin is the epitomy of NZ skiing, a wide open bowl with gently rolling terrain and hugely wide groomed trails with mostly green and blue runs. The Valley View Quad gives those with lift tickets the chance to park lower down the road, and also opens up more terrain. There is also on-mountain accommodation available.
New for 2016:
Cardrona has invested in the first cabin style lift in any New Zealand ski area. The new McDougall's Express Chondola replaces the old quad, and has a combination of eight-person gondolas and six-seater chairs, increasing lift capacity by 150%. There is also an expansion and redesign to the Ski Kindy building, with the Kids' Snowsport School moving in. A new slope-side bar will open around the base area, and an improvement to the snow-making facilities will hopefully allow Cardrona to be open until its scheduled closing date of 15th October, and extra week compared with last year.
The operational base is immediately adjacent to the Cardrona Alpine Resort, and it is easy to drive yourself there. Parking is available at the base area. Transport is not provided by Soho Basin. Driving time from Queenstown is approximately 1 hour.
What's Soho really like?
Soho Basin is new, and is a bit of a throwback to skiing in the '30’s, a secret that's been hidden away for 85 years! Predominantly south facing, the area is comprised of two high alpine basins at the head of Soho Creek, overlooking the Wakatipu Basin and peaks of the Central Divide. The runs are all off piste. You ride to the top in a cat and whoop it up on the way back down. You need to book in if you want to ski or ride this area and the website offers an online booking facility. Options for this private snow experience include Discovery Trips and an Exploration Day. Private charters are also available and include skiing/riding from 9.30am until 3.30pm as well as gourmet lunch.
90 mins (via Crown Range) from Queenstown or 40 mins from Wanaka.
What's TC really like?
Aaah, Treble Cone - the mere mention of the name to Kiwis conjures up images of face shots, drop-offs, steep runs, burning leg muscles and huge grins. All this is true - and much more!
Named as NZ's Best Ski Resort two years running at the World Ski Awards held in Austria, Treble Cone is the largest ski area in the South Island & one of the steepest commercial fields (only exceeded by Craigieburn Valley in Canterbury). The six seater Express leads not only to magic steeps and the legendary Matukituki Bowl, but also to Triple Treat & Easy Rider, a cruisy green run that wends its way 4 kms back to the base. The Saddle Chair accesses the Boundary Ridge chutes plus the truly fantastic Bullet run. The ski area boundary extends an additional 240 metres up from the top of the Saddle Chair - all the way to the 2100 metre summit. Hikers will experience overload from the 900 metres of vertical skiing to get back to the car park! If your legs hold out from 9am until 4pm, you've done very well indeed. With Treble Cone's reputation as an advanced mountain, it is seldom crowded, even on the frequent powder days that draw experts like bees to honey. Many non-experts avoid it because of its reputation, however the hearsay should be ignored, as Treble Cone has some excellent skiing & riding for all abilities, and the 2 beginner area surface lifts are even free to use!
Treble Cone has a great virtual trail map that you can download to your phone.
New for 2016:
TC has been investing in snowmaking over the off-season, with a new snowmaking system now installed to service Easy Rider all the way from the top of the lift to the base building. They will also be covering Main Street. This should ensure that the mountain will be open on time even in a low snow early season, such as in 2016.
Ohau is a pretty unique spot operated by Mike & Louise Neilsen since the mid '80's. Located in the Mackenzie Country, it is 4 hours from Christchurch, 3 hours from Dunedin and only 30 minutes from Twizel & Omarama. It is only a 20 minute drive from Lake Ohau Lodge to the ski area. There is a bus that leaves every morning from the Lodge, returning at the end of the day, although most people drive themselves. Chain hire is available at the Lodge. From the metal 9.6km access road, the views up the valley overlooking Lake Ohau as far as Mt Cook, are just spectacular.
The mountain caters for all abilities. There is a beginners platter lift right near the ticket office and day lodge. A double chair lift gives access for intermediates to enjoy the flat wide slopes at the top of the mountain and cruise down the Boulevard very comfortably. There is some great hiking around the tops for the more adventurous accessing some of the best powder and the views from there are really awesome and definitely worth the effort! There are 2 Terrain Parks - 1 for beginners and 1 for intermediate/advanced with lots of features. A PB400W, winch cat has been purchased to assist with Terrain Park construction.
Stage 2 snow making has begun with 4 Techno Alpin 2 x T40's, T60 and TF10 fan guns and 23 A30 lances fixed low energy guns. Snow making will now cover 2 main top to bottom runs, via Top Flat , Boulevard and the Towers, Shirt Front and both learners’ slopes.
Ohau has been awarded a Qualmark Gold standard Enviro rating.