Your Guide to Snowboarding and Skiing in Queenstown
If you have heard anything about the ski season in New Zealand, no doubt you will have heard about Queenstown. The adventure town in New Zealand’s South Island is close to four ski fields, offering a winter escape with variety. Nevertheless, a ski holiday takes a bit of organising, so we’ve put together this ultimate guide to the Queenstown ski season to make your ski holiday planning all the easier.
Let’s start with saying that all of the Queenstown ski fields have high-quality on-mountain facilities, including gear rentals, cafes, ski lessons, lockers, retail shop, toilets, freestyle parks and more.
The ski season in Queenstown typically runs from June to September but always take the ski field opening dates with a pinch of salt, as the dates heavily rely on the weather. Even when the ski field initially opens, note that one a small portion of the trails will be open. We recommend skiing in Queenstown during August and September for the best snow coverage.
Transport to the Queenstown Ski Fields
Unlike the ski fields in Europe or North America, there is no accommodation on the ski fields in Queenstown. Most people will stay in the nearby towns of Queenstown, Arrowtown or Wanaka (see The 50 Best Accommodations in Queenstown), then either drive or take one of the many shuttles and buses available to get to their selected ski field. For instance, Info&Snow (available on Viator and Tripadvisor) offer round-trip bus transfers between Queenstown and The Remarkables. Alternatively, Haka Tours offers all-inclusive snowsports tours to the Queenstown ski fields, including lift passes, transport, breakfast and trips to other South Island ski fields.
Find out more about getting around Queenstown in Public Transport in Queenstown. Plus, for tips on picking up gear, see Where to Buy Cheap Ski and Snowboard Gear in New Zealand.
Coronet Peak is Queenstown’s first ski field which has been operating for around 70 years. Thanks to the snowmaking facilities, it’s usually the first to open in the Queenstown area. The terrain is mostly rolling hills making it a good option for beginners and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. However, the back bowls are sure to challenge the experienced.
Coronet Peak Stats
Skiable Area: 280ha (692 acres)
Vertical Drop: 462m (1516ft)
Terrain: Beginner 32%, Intermediate 41%, Advanced 27%
Longest Run: M1 2.4km (1.5 miles)
Typical Season: Mid-June to Early October
Hours: 9am-4pm (8am-9am First Tracks), 4pm-9pm, Friday and Saturday Nights
Drive Times: 20-25 minutes from Queenstown, 23 minutes from Arrowtown, and 1h20mins from Wanaka
Offering rocky mountainous terrain, The Remarkables offers a stark contrast of scenery compared to Coronet Peak. There’s really something for every ability on this ski field, with three bowls of skiable area, facing north to capture the sun for some beautiful sunny days. The Remarkables also has a couple of interesting freestyle parks.
The Remarkables Stats
Skiable Area: 265.5ha (656 acres)
Vertical Drop: 357m (1171ft)
Terrain: Beginner 30%, Intermediate 40%, Advanced 30%
Longest Run: Outward Bound 2.5km (1.6 miles)
Typical Season: Mid-June (usually a week later than Coronet Peak) to Late September
Drive Times: 35 minutes from Queenstown, 45 minutes from Arrowtown, and 1h15mins from Wanaka
Boasting wide open trails across three different basins, Cardrona is an excellent ski field to explore. It’s family-friendly while giving something exciting for those who have been chasing winter for years, with some Expert runs and one of the best and biggest freestyle parks in the country. It’s also the only ski field in the Queenstown area with a gondola. Cardrona is also open in summer for mountain biking, carting, walking and sightseeing. Check out lift passes, packages and reviews on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Skiable Area: 345ha (852.5 acres)
Vertical Drop: 600m (1968.5ft)
Terrain: Beginner 25%, Intermediate 25%, Advanced 30%, Expert 20%
Longest Run: A Real Journey & Valley View 4.5km (2.8 miles)
Typical Season: Mid-June to Mid-October
Drive Times: 60 minutes from Queenstown, 45 minutes from Arrowtown, and 35mins from Wanaka
The largest ski field in the South Island, Treble Cone offers the ultimate New Zealand skiing experience for confident skiers and snowboarders. There’s a myriad of off-piste areas to discover and those in the know should definitely climb to The Summit for epic panoramic views. That’s not to say that there is no lack of beginner to intermediate areas hone your skills. Plus, Treble Cone often feels less crowded than other ski fields in the area. Check out lift passes, packages and reviews on Viator and Tripadvisor.
Treble Cone Stats
Skiable Area: 550ha (1359 acres)
Vertical Drop: 700m (2297ft)
Terrain: Beginner 10%, Intermediate 45%, Advanced 45%
Longest Run: Top of the Quad Chair 4km (2.5 miles)
Typical Season: Late-June to Early-October
Drive Times: 1h30mins from Queenstown, 1h15mins from Arrowtown, and 30mins from Wanaka
For more ski fields, see The 24 Ski Fields in New Zealand.
Heli-Skiing in Queenstown
For uncrowded slopes, first tracks and untouched snow, treat yourself to a heli-ski experience in Queenstown.
The experience, available to intermediate to advanced skiers and borders, opens up thousands of hectares of skiable terrain just moments away from the Queenstown Airport by helicopter. So join one of the heli-ski operators like Alpine Heliski, who provides skiers with a guide to keep you safe on the mountain and show you the best areas to explore. Hotel transfers and a hot gourmet lunch are also included. Find out more about the experience on Viator and Tripadvisor.