Known as New Zealand’s ‘Adventure Capital’, Queenstown is the ideal location for a Southern Hemisphere skiing jaunt.
Nearest Airport: Queenstown
Best months: July – September
Local resorts: The Remarkables & Coronet Peak
Surrounded by the dramatic Southern Alps, which form the backbone of New Zealand’s scenic south, Queenstown is a winter wonderland of snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes and glittering glaciers.
Day 1: Arrive in Queenstown
You’ll be mesmerized as your plane descends through the alpine valleys with glittering peaks on both sides – Queenstown airport is by far the most picturesque in New Zealand. Located just a few minutes drive from central Queenstown, you’ll be able to settle quickly into your accommodation and explore the mall and downtown areas. With an exuberant and very ‘kiwi’ après ski culture combined with the humming resort feel, this is truly a snow-lovers’ paradise.
Visit in late June/early July and you’ll be greeted with the annual ‘WinterFest’, where a buzzing Mardis Gras atmosphere welcomes in the season, and spreads good vibes from the mountaintops to the town centre. The tradition started in 1975 when locals decided winter was a good excuse for a 10-day party, and the ritual has been upheld ever since. Join the quirky fun and tear up the local resorts.
TIP: Stop in at the Snow Centre in downtown Queenstown to sort out your lift tickets, ski rental and transfers early. This will help to beat the queues in the morning and ensure you can hit the slopes first thing.
Day 2: Coronet Peak
World-class facilities, spectacular views, proximity to Queenstown and the “rollercoaster” terrain make Coronet Peak the most popular resort in New Zealand. While there is a wide variety of terrain for all ability levels, intermediate to advanced skiers should loop the Cornet Express high-speed quad, which takes you to the summit. From here you can gain access to powder-filled back bowls and can join in on the hot laps enjoyed by the hardcore locals. Then, after a hard day on the slopes head back into Queenstown for a hot spa before hitting the town for the evening. Try Below Zero Ice Bar or The Naughty Penguin to round out your day.
Day 3 & 4: The Remarkables
The Remarkables truly live up to their name, and are one of the most photographed mountain ranges in the world due to their steep jagged peaks rising from the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
The resort is located just 45 minutes drive from Queenstown, and is most popular with beginner to intermediate skiers and boarders due to its ‘family vibe’ and less crowded slopes. Here you’ll find 4 chair lifts (a super speedy 6-seater, 3 quad chairs), 3 magic carpets, and a handful of world-class terrain parks for our freestyle friends. The resort is small in size, but definitely not in spirit. Expect to find locals here enjoying turns with their whole extended family.
For the more adventurous skiers and boarders, the best terrain is accesed via a short hike above the chairs, to find steep chutes and wide open faces. Or to avoid the crowds try the Homeward Runs.
TIP: Once the day is over, head to the iconic FergBurger in Queenstown for dinner.
Day 5: Adrenaline and Night Skiing
Spend today enjoying the great outdoors and taking in the stunning scenery around Queenstown. Join a 4WD tour to see some of the most spectacular backcountry scenery you could possibly imagine. Perhaps remote Skippers Canyon, Arrowtown or some of the Lord of the Rings filming locations around Glenorchy and the Wakatipu Basin will be where you’ll end up.
Gear-up in the afternoon for night skiing back at Coronet Peak. Watch the pristine afternoon sky transform itself into glorious hues of pinks before the sun sets and the night lights come on. More than 80 new lights were recently added at the resort to increase the night skiing area by 4km. There’s also a new Park after Dark freestyle run with boxes, rails and airbag. Dine on the deck and enjoy the evening atmosphere.
TIP: Night skiing runs on Friday and Saturday nights only, from early July until mid-September.
So as snow begins to gather on New Zealand’s alpine highlands and the nation waves goodbye to autumn, now is the time to decide whether you too, are joining them for another epic winter! Try combining this itinerary with the Wanaka Ski Itinerary for the ultimate New Zealand adventure