When a range as epic as the Southern Alps sits in your backyard, the possibility of good powder is strong – especially if you stay at Queenstown hotels. Welcome to the South Island of New Zealand, a most unusual and remarkable ski spot. (So remarkable, in fact, that they put it in the name. But more on that later.)
Yes, as the spine of the South Island, the dramatic Southern Alps serve up some of the gnarliest skiing and snowboarding in the world, let alone the Southern Hemisphere. All told, the ski resorts of New Zealand – and primarily the South Island – promise choice powder, diverse runs, a moderate climate and the longest season south of the equator. Perhaps best of all, resorts in the Otago region of the South Island are conveniently located within close driving distance of one another.
The après–ski gateway to all this winter sports goodness is, of course, Queenstown. The photogenic four seasons resort town curves around Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu and lures hundreds of thousands of recreation enthusiasts throughout the year. The ski fields of Otago, all on the doorstep of hotels near Queenstown, as well as adventure sports, form the backbone of a perky tourism economy.
With that, have a closer look at the best ski fields in and around Queenstown.
What’s in a name indeed? In the case of The Remarkables, a lot. The terrain, all 220 ha of it, breaks down about evenly for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers and the on-site facilities are all top-notch. Ski season starts mid-June (typical for most ski fields on the South Island) and an adult day pass will set you back $91.
Cardrona Alpine Resort
Over half of Cardrona Alpine Resort’s 345 ha is dedicated to intermediates, which makes the South Island standout ideal for a family holiday. The ski field is between Wanaka and Queenstown, about five hours southwest of Christchurch. A day adult lift pass starts at $95.
Snow Park NZ
Boutique mountain resorts don’t come much better than this one, nestled in the gorgeous Southern Alps, 35 km from Wanaka and 55 km from Queenstown. Home to a spectacular terrain park and breathtaking views, Snow Park NZ is shredder paradise. $88 for a full day pass.
Treble Cone is the place to be for absurdly beautiful panoramas of Lake Wanaka and UNESCO World Heritage Mount Aspiring/Tititea. The summer home of both Austria’s and Norway’s national ski teams is particularly alluring to experienced skiers, with the advanced terrain topping out at 45% of the resort’s impressive 550 ha. A day pass costs $95 for adults.
At a tidy 18 km from Queenstown, Coronet Peak is a popular ski field for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and levels. Coronet is historic too, as the first commercial ski field in New Zealand’s history. The resort, happily, has come a long way since its humble inception in 1947, when hearty skiers had to rely on a single rop tow. A $30 million overhaul in 2008 pumped new life into the place and has duly drawn new visitors in droves. The cost of a day lift pass at Coronet Peak is $97.