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The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Queenstown Ski Holiday

Vibrant, diverse, and packed with excitement, Queenstown beckons skiers from around the world. A Queenstown ski holiday offers four world-class ski fields, a bustling après-ski scene, and terrain for all levels.

In addition, fill your time off-slope with a thrilling range of activities and sightseeing experiences. Nestled amidst the Southern Alps, beside the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown abounds with stunning scenery. Meanwhile, nearby highlights include Wanaka, Arrowtown, Glenorchy, and Fiordland National Park.

This guide will provide everything you need to plan the perfect Queenstown ski holiday. From lift passes to accommodation, we cover each part of your ski plans. Moreover, we recommend top Queenstown ski packages for hassle-free planning.

Read on to begin planning your unforgettable snow holiday.

Table of Contents

Ski Resorts in Queenstown

During your stay in Queenstown, choose from four world-class resorts:

  • The Remarkables
  • Coronet Peak
  • Cardrona
  • Treble Cone

The Remarkables and Coronet Peak lie close to downtown Queenstown, easily accessible by car or mountain coach. Meanwhile, Cardrona and Treble Cone are closer to the town of Wanaka yet still accessible from Queenstown.

Flexible lift passes allow skiers to sample a diverse range of terrain, while lessons cater for skiers of all levels.

The Remarkables

the view from The Remarkables Ski Field one of the best Queenstown ski resorts where to ski in new zealand

Perched in the iconic Remarkables Range, The Remarkables is New Zealand’s most famous resort.

The access road winds its way high up the side of the mountain range, with breathtaking views opening below. Finally, the road ends in a sheltered basin with extensive alpine terrain stretching to the surrounding peaks. Three sun-drenched north-facing bowls beckon skiers with deep powder and rocky chutes.

The Remarkables caters for skiers of all levels, with everything from an expansive beginners area through to exciting touring and backcountry terrain.

Access the main runs with a high-speed chairlift or take in world-famous views overlooking the Wakatipu Basin with a sightseeing pass. At lunchtime, choose from a wide range of on-mountain restaurants and cafes.

The Queenstown NZSki Pass is valid at both The Remarkables and Coronet Peak.

The Remarkables Ski Field Stats

Terrain
  • 30% beginner
  • 40% intermediate
  • 30% advanced
Lifts
  • 1 high-speed six-seater chair
  • 3 quad chairs
  • 4 surface conveyor lifts (including a covered conveyor)
Average Snowfall

3.67 metres per year (excluding snowmaking)

Ski Field Size
  • 385 hectares of skiable terrain
  • 1943 metre elevation (highest lifted point)
  • 468 metre vertical drop
On-Mountain Cafes
  • Rastusburn Coffee Bar: Coffee, sweet treats, beer and wine
  • The Remarkables Cafe: Quick lunch options such as fish & chips, sushi, salads, and bakery items
  • The Remarkables Restaurant: Hearty sit-down meals and an extensive salad bar
Opening Hours

9 am – 4 pm

Coronet Peak

coronet peak ski field night skiing

Located just 20 minutes from downtown Queenstown, Coronet Peak boasts spectacular roller coaster terrain. Wide-open runs and varied terrain make Coronet Peak an irresistible winter playground.

Coronet Peak also offers a range of lesson and childcare options for young children. In other words, this ski field is the perfect destination for families.

For even more excitement, head up to Coronet Peak on Wednesday or Friday between 4 and 9 pm for night skiing! Take in a stunning sunset over the Wakatipu Basin before carving tracks on the floodlit mountain. This is the ultimate Queenstown winter experience, with parties and events scheduled throughout the season.

And for non-skiers, Coronet Peak offers a sightseeing gondola pass as well as toboggan hire. No matter your interests, Coronet Peak makes a great destination to experience the winter majesty of the Southern Alps.

Ski both Coronet Peak and The Remarkables with the Queenstown NZSki Pass. (Please note night skiing requires a separate pass.)

Coronet Peak Ski Field Stats 

Terrain 
  • 14% beginner 
  • 33% intermediate 
  • 25% advanced 
  • 27% expert
Lifts 
  • 1 high-speed six-seater chair 
  • 2 high-speed quad chairs 
  • 1 T-bar
  • 4 surface conveyor lifts
Average Snowfall 

1.99 metres per year (excluding snowmaking) 

Ski Field Size 
  • 280 hectares of skiable terrain 
  • 1649 metre elevation (highest lifted point) 
  • 462 metre vertical drop 
On-Mountain Cafes
  • Heidi’s Hut: Italian-style cafe with pizzas, pasta, breakfast, and soup
  • Coronet Cafe: Coffee and meals on the go
  • Coronet Restaurant: Hearty sit-down breakfast and lunch options plus dinner on evenings when the mountain is open for night skiing
Opening Hours 

9 am – 4 pm

Cardrona Alpine Resort

cardrona ski field wanaka skiing in new zealand nz ski

Cardrona Alpine Resort is New Zealand’s most popular ski area. In addition, this ski field caters well for families and beginners. The “Chondola” (a ski lift with gondola carriages) is perfect for children.

Because of its sheltered slopes and excellent snowmaking capabilities, Cardrona rarely closes due to weather. Furthermore, this ski field typically meets its scheduled opening and closing dates.

Add to this New Zealand’s most flexible range of lesson and childcare offerings, and Cardrona is a sure bet.

For advanced skiers and snowboarders, Cardrona offers the most extensive terrain park facilities in the Southern Hemisphere. These include four terrain parks, two half pipes, and a gravity-cross course.

Most skiers who visit Cardrona Alpine Resort stay in the nearby town of Wanaka. However, Cardrona is also accessible from Queenstown–just over an hour’s drive up the Crown Range Road.

Hit the slopes at both Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone with a flexible Wanaka ski pass.

Cardrona Alpine Resort Stats 

Terrain 
  • 25% beginner 
  • 25% intermediate 
  • 30% advanced 
  • 20% expert
Lifts 
  • McDougall’s Express Chondola
  • 3 quad chairs 
  • 1 platter lift
  • 3 surface conveyor lifts (including a covered conveyor) 
Average Snowfall 

2.9 metres per year (excluding snowmaking) 

Ski Field Size 
  • 400 hectares of skiable terrain 
  • 1860 metre elevation (highest lifted point) 
  • 600 metre vertical drop 
On-Mountain Cafes
  • Captain’s Pizzeria: Italian-style menu with pizza, pasta, and cabinet food plus local beer and cider on tap
  • Base Cafe: Self-service cabinet food for convenient and quick meals
  • The Mezz: Restaurant-style breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Base Bar: A range of delicious, healthy options to eat in or have on the go, including vegan and gluten-free treats
  • Noodle Bar: Asian-inspired noodles and sushi
  • Little Meg Cafe: Snacks and coffee at the base of the Valley View Quad
  • Vista Bar: Enjoy a drink while taking in the views from the top of the McDougall’s Chondola
  • The Lounge: Wine, craft beer, coffee, and deli-style bites
Opening Hours 

8:30 am – 4 pm

Treble Cone

treble cone ski field wanaka skiing nz ski

Treble Cone is the largest ski area in New Zealand’s South Island, with long, uncrowded groomed runs and legendary off-piste terrain. Top that off with epic views over Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps, and you have a ski experience not to be missed.

Advanced skiers flock to Treble Cone, tackling a playground of open powder faces and natural half pipes. Treble Cone offers some of New Zealand’s most challenging terrain within the boundaries of a patrolled ski area.

As with Cardrona, most skiers visiting Treble Cone stay in Wanaka. However, the drive from Queenstown to Treble Cone is doable for a day trip at just over 1.5 hours.

Treble Cone has limited lesson offerings and no childcare. But families and beginning skiers can start off at Cardrona before progressing to Treble Cone with the flexible Wanaka ski pass.

Treble Cone Stats 

Terrain 
  • 10% beginner 
  • 45% intermediate 
  • 45% advanced 
Lifts 
  • 6-seater express chairlift
  • 1 quad chairlift
  • 1 surface platter
  • Magic carpet lift
Average Snowfall 

5.5 metres per year (excluding snowmaking) 

Ski Field Size 
  • 50 hectares of skiable terrain 
  • 2088 metre elevation (highest lifted point) 
  • 700 metre vertical drop 
On-Mountain Cafes
  • Bar: Healthy meals, homemade baking, and tasty bar snacks with coffee and cold beverages
  • Grab & Go: Quick cabinet food including pies, sandwiches, and salads
  • The Southern BBQ: Slow cooked meats, burgers, noodles, soups, and salads
  • Allpress at Altitude Bar: Hot and cold food and refreshments
Opening Hours 

8:30 am – 4 pm

Queenstown Lift Passes

skiing in new zealand coronet peak queenstown ski fields nz ski

The four Queenstown ski fields offer a variety of lift passes. These include:

  • Queenstown NZSki Pass
  • Wanaka Flexi Pass
  • Night Skiing Passes at Coronet Peak
  • Free ski passes for children 5 years and under
  • Learner area lift passes
  • September ski pass discounts

Read on to decide which pass is right for you.

Queenstown NZSki Pass

Because NZSki owns both The Remarkables and Coronet Peak, the Queenstown NZSki Pass is valid at both mountains. In other words, you can choose each day which ski field you wish to visit. In addition, rental equipment and lesson packages are valid at both mountains.

However, some childcare and under-5s lesson offerings differ between the two mountains. You therefore need to book these directly through the correct ski field.

When you arrive in Queenstown, you have the option to visit the Snow Centre to check in. This allows NZSki to load your lift passes and other ski products onto your electronic cards to avoid longer wait times up on the mountain. In addition, you can collect or return rental equipment from the Snow Centre.

Wanaka Ski Pass

Similar to the Queenstown NZSki Pass, the Wanaka Ski pass is valid at both Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone. This includes lift passes, rental equipment, and clothing hire. In other words, you can choose each day which mountain to ski at.

However, lesson and childcare offerings vary greatly between the two mountains. In general, we recommend booking all lessons and childcare at Cardrona Alpine Resort and visiting Treble Cone on days with no lessons scheduled.

You can check in at Cardrona’s Queenstown office for skiing at both Cardrona and Treble Cone. Here you can load ski products onto your electronic card and pick up or drop off rental equipment.

Night Skiing at Coronet Peak

From 4 pm – 9 pm every Wednesday and Friday (July and August), Coronet Peak remains open for night skiing.

The night skiing pass is separate from the regular day pass. You can either book this pass separately or upgrade your daily ski pass to a Twilight Pass combining both day and night opening hours.

On-mountain dining options offer flexibility–either return to Queenstown for a meal or take a break from skiing to enjoy dinner at Coronet Peak.

Child Ski Passes

At all four Queenstown ski fields, children ages 5 and under ski free of charge. However, you will still need to collect an electronic card for any children 5 and under to access the lifts.

Learner Area Lift Passes

If this is your first time skiing, a learner area lift pass or conveyor lift pass will give you access to the learner’s slopes. Available at a discounted rate, this pass offers the chance to solidify your foundational skills before progressing to the main lifts.

At Cardrona and Treble Cone, the learner area lift pass also includes a single ride up the main ski field lift at any point during the day.

At The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and Treble Cone, the Learn to Ski packages include a learner area lift pass for your first day of skiing.

September Lift Passes

The Queenstown ski fields offer discounted spring passes from September 1st. These deals vary from year to year, and often include a free day or two of skiing for multi-day passes.

Click here for details on other discounted ski passes.

Queenstown Ski Lessons

wanaka skiing in new zealand cardrona ski field family kids

Each of the four Queenstown ski fields offers a different range of lessons. However, certainly lesson types are common between most of these ski fields. From first-time skiers to experts hoping to hone their skills, you’ll find the perfect offering at the Queenstown ski fields.

Group Lessons

Most skiers choose to book group lessons either as a refresher or as a way to progress. Choose from morning, afternoon, or full-day lessons.

Each lesson typically lasts around two hours. Skiers are divided up by experience levels and split into smaller groups so your instructor can give you one-on-one attention.

For child lessons, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak offer Kea Club with supervised lunch as an add-on. And at Cardrona, Kids’ Club offers the same option.

Children and adults cannot join the same group lesson, even if they are at a similar skill level. This is because different ages learn very differently.

First Timer Lessons

The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and Cardrona each offer First Timer Packages for those who have never skied before. These include:

  • Progression lift passes (learner lift pass for the first day, followed by full-mountain lift passes for the remaining days)
  • Rental equipment (skis, boots, and poles or snowboard and boots)
  • Lessons

However, the structure of these packages vary between different mountains.

At Cardrona, First Timer Packages last three days. The first day includes two lessons, followed by one lesson on each of the following two days.

Meanwhile, at The Remarkables and Coronet Peak, Intro to Snow Packages last four days, with two lessons each day.

Therefore, if you prefer a bit more flexibility in your schedule to practice your new skills, Cardrona is a perfect choice. On the other hand, if you want a fast-paced learning environment that will push you to excel, choose The Remarkables and Coronet Peak.

First Timer lesson packages are available for both adults and children.

Private Queenstown Ski Lessons

For a more personal learning experience, choose private lessons at any of the Queenstown resorts. Either book a private lesson for yourself or join others in your group of a similar age and ability level.

From one-hour lessons through to all-day tutoring, private lessons are flexible to cater to your needs.

Childcare at Queenstown Ski Resorts

Family holiday with daycare on-mountain at Cardrona Alpine Resort

Not all Queenstown ski fields offer childcare or lessons for young children. However, you can easily plan your holiday around the ski fields that are right for your family.

Cardrona Childcare

For families with young children, Cardrona is the obvious choice. Catering for children from 3 months old, Cardrona offers a wide range of options including daycare and under-5s lessons.

Cardrona offers:

  • Childcare from 3 months – 5 years
  • Private lessons available as soon as your child can walk
  • Group lessons available for ages 4+
  • Childcare & lesson packages with private or group lessons
  • Ski equipment supplied free of charge for the duration of lessons for under-5s

In other words, no matter the age or confidence level of your child, Cardrona offers the perfect range of options.

Coronet Peak Childcare

Coronet Peak caters for children ages 2+.

For ages 2-5, childcare packages include snow play, meals, and learning experiences. Early childhood educators help your child become familiar with the mountain environment, with a range of indoor and outdoor learning experiences.

And for ages 3-5, the SkiwiKids full-day program offers a combination of ski lessons and childcare. Although this program includes a group lesson, your instructor will individualise your child’s experience based on your expectation and your child’s wishes.

Queenstown Ski Transport

Mt Hutt Methven

For your ski holiday, choose either self-drive or mountain coach transport. Both options are convenient and relatively similar in price. Renting a vehicle gives you more flexibility to explore on your days off, while mountain coach transport saves you the hassle of driving icy ski roads.

Renting a vehicle for your Queenstown ski holiday

Firstly, when choosing a car for your ski holiday, we recommend a 4WD vehicle. This offers more traction on snowy or icy ski roads. In addition, 2WD vehicles are required to use chains more frequently than 4WD vehicles.

Secondly, you will need snow chains included with your vehicle hire just in case. Most days you will not need chains. However, weather conditions can change at any time, and you don’t want to be turned around halfway up the mountain because you weren’t prepared.

Finally, a ski rack is a convenient add-on for your rental car, especially if most of the seats in your vehicle will be filled.

Our New Zealand self-drive ski packages always include a 4WD vehicle, snow chains, and a ski rack.

Driving Times

Driving times may vary based on weather conditions, so we recommend leaving early, especially if you have morning lessons to attend.

For the two local Queenstown resorts, driving times are as follows:

  • Queenstown to Coronet Peak: 25 minutes
  • Queenstown to The Remarkables: 45 minutes

And for the Wanaka ski fields, driving times from Queenstown are as follows:

  • Queenstown to Cardrona Alpine Resort: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Queenstown to Treble Cone: 1 hour 45 minutes

Mountain Coach Transport

If you prefer not to drive, the Queenstown resorts offer a range of mountain coach transport options.

Because of their close proximity to downtown Queenstown, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak have the most coach transport options available. Choose accommodation pick-up at scheduled times or take the regular bus from the downtown Snow Centre. Departing every 30 minutes between 8:30 am and 11:30 am, this convenient ski bus also collects from most regular bus stops along the route. For the return, buses depart each ski field from 1:30 pm as they fill.

From Queenstown to Cardrona Alpine Resort, the ski bus leaves once per day, with scheduled pick-ups at accommodation around Queenstown.

If you wish to reach Treble Cone from Queenstown by shuttle, several companies offer daily services.

Any buses with accommodation pick-up must be scheduled in advance for the days of your choice. On the other hand, passes for the regular bus from the Snow Centre to Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are open-dated.

Queenstown Ski Accommodation

queenstown new zealand view

Most New Zealand ski fields do not offer on-mountain accommodation. This is because the access roads are steep and the base areas relatively small.

Therefore, most visitors choose to stay in downtown Queenstown and drive up to the ski fields each day. This allows you to enjoy Queenstown’s vibrant après-ski scene and sample a wide range of restaurants and bars.

For skiers taking mountain coach transport, we recommend the following downtown accommodation options:

  • Blue Peaks Lodge (3.5-star)
  • Alexis Motel and Apartments (4-star)
  • Blue Peaks Apartments (4.5-star)
  • Peppers Beacon (5-star)

And if you choose to hire a vehicle, some of these less central options offer better views and more extensive facilities:

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Queenstown (4.5-star)
  • Arrowfield Apartments (4.5-star)
  • The Rees Hotel (5-star)
  • Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa (5-star)

Our team at New Zealand Ski Packages works with a wide range of accommodation operators in and around Queenstown. We can therefore recommend the best options based on your preferences and requirements.

Queenstown & Wanaka Ski Accommodation

Another popular option is to split your stay between Queenstown and Wanaka. If you wish to sample all four Queenstown resorts, basing yourself in Wanaka for half of your holiday means less driving time overall.

We offer a range of Queenstown and Wanaka ski packages for inspiration. Use these as a starting point or ask us to design a custom ski package to match your interests.

Queenstown Ski Season

cardrona alpine resort wanaka

The Queenstown ski season typically runs from mid-June through mid-October. However, opening and closing dates vary from year to year. In addition, opening dates may be delayed if the weather isn’t cold enough or the ski fields have not received enough snow.

In general, Cardrona Alpine Resort is the most reliable ski field in terms of honouring its scheduled opening and closing dates. This is a result of extensive snowmaking capabilities combined with sheltered terrain.

What is the best time to ski in New Zealand?

The best time to ski in New Zealand depends on your preferences. August typically has the best snow, while September offers deep discounts and spring conditions.

June is best if you want to avoid the crowds. In addition, Queenstown’s Winterfest is well worth a visit if your travel dates align.

July is typically crowded due to school holidays in both Australia and New Zealand. However, you may find special children’s ski programs available in July.

August draws skiers looking for peak conditions, while September entices with cheap ski deals, warmer weather off-slope, and lessening crowds.

No matter when you choose to travel, New Zealand offers a rewarding ski holiday experience. And with flexible lift passes, you can choose the ski field with the best conditions each day of your visit.

Even in winter, Queenstown and Wanaka are frequently sunny. And when a low layer of clouds blankets the town, the mountains are typically sunny and clear. Drive up above the inversion layer and relish in stunning views of the sea of clouds below.

Queenstown Ski Packages

skiing in new zealand coronet peak queenstown ski fields nz ski

Ready to start planning your New Zealand ski holiday? Our ski packages offer great deals on convenient, stress-free travel. We bundle together everything you need for a successful ski holiday, tailoring your package to match exactly what you want.

Choose from:

These packages are designed to serve as a starting point. Add rental equipment, upgrade your accommodation, change the number of nights in New Zealand, or make any changes you require. Our team will work with you to customise your ski package to suit your needs.

We bundle together everything you need for an unforgettable ski holiday, including:

  • Accommodation
  • Lift passes
  • Ski lessons
  • Childcare
  • Equipment rentals
  • Clothing hire
  • 4WD rental car or mountain coach transport

In addition, we can add any off-slope activities you want to enjoy during your stay in Queenstown. From sightseeing to adrenaline adventures, choose from an exciting range of options.

Our team is based in Wanaka, just an hour from Queenstown, so the Queenstown ski resorts are right in our backyard. In other words, we are very familiar with each ski field and can offer local insights and recommendations while you plan your holiday. Furthermore, we are just a phone call away if you have any questions or need assistance during your holiday.

Contact New Zealand Ski Packages now to begin planning your Queenstown ski holiday.

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