You’ve just landed on the ultimate guide to skiing in Queenstown! Nestled in the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s South Island, Queenstown is a winter wonderland that attracts skiers and snowboarders from around the globe.
With its breathtaking alpine scenery, world-class ski resorts, and vibrant après-ski scene, Queenstown is a dream destination.
In this guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about skiing in Queenstown. From choosing the right mountain for your skill level, getting around Queenstown, to the right ski pass you should buy.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to hit the slopes for the first time, this guide will equip you with all the insights you need to make the most of your time skiing in Queenstown.
So grab your ski gear, wax those skis, and get ready for an unforgettable winter adventure in the stunning alpine playground of Queenstown.
Guide to Skiing in Queenstown – Let’s dive into the ultimate guide to skiing in Queenstown and make your ski trip a truly epic one, starting off with the best time to visit!
When to visit Queenstown for the Ski Season
The slopes in Queenstown are open from mid-June to mid-October.
June and July are usually the busiest months for skiing in Queenstown, with school holidays and international visitors flocking to the slopes. August and September tend to be less crowded, offering a quieter and more relaxed skiing experience, however, the snow quality may not be as good as the prior months.
One of the best times to visit is early July when there are optimal snow conditions and the snow machine festival is on, an epic four days of music, snow and après adventure. It will be busy however and prices will be high, so be sure to book accommodation, flights and ski passes at least 6 months in advance to secure the best deals.
Queenstown Ski Resorts
Queenstown boasts a range of fantastic ski resorts that offer fantastic slopes. Plus there are plenty of budget, mid-range or luxurious accommodations near the mountains.
Below I will take you through the most popular mountains near Queenstown that cater to all skill levels and offer breathtaking views of New Zealand.
Keep reading to find out more about each resort.
Remarkables Ski Field
The Remarkables ski area offers an exceptional skiing and snowboarding experience. With its breathtaking views, diverse terrain, and family-friendly atmosphere, it’s no wonder The Remarkables has become a favourite destination for locals and visitors alike.
One of the defining features of The Remarkables is its stunning scenery. As you ski down the mountain, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of peaks, deep valleys, and lakes. It’s hard not to get distracted! Comparing the runs to Coronet Peak, The Remarkables runs are a little more challenging.
Snow quality can be inconsistent, however, so I suggest getting there early in the day to experience fresh tracks.
- The resort caters to all skill levels, making it a great choice for both beginners and seasoned riders.
- Beginners can start on the dedicated learner slopes, where they can build confidence and develop their skills in a safe and supportive environment.
- Intermediates will find a wide variety of groomed trails to explore, each offering a mix of gentle and challenging sections.
- Lastly, advanced riders can venture off-piste to experience the resort’s backcountry terrain.
There are also excellent facilities on the mountain, including rental equipment, ski and snowboard lessons, and convenient options for a quick lunch break.
The ski area is easily accessible from Queenstown in under 45 minutes, with regular shuttle services and ample parking available. I highly recommend you visit The Remarkables when skiing in Queenstown!
Coronet Peak Ski Field
Next, we have Coronet Peak, known for its diverse terrain and excellent snow conditions, attracting skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.
The ski field features a wide range of well-groomed trails, including easy beginner slopes, challenging runs for intermediate skiers, and decent off-piste areas for the more adventurous riders. However, like many other New Zealand resorts, Coronet Peak is not particularly large and the treeless terrain limits some of the off-pisted fun.
Coronet Peak has a long ski season, typically running from early June to early October, thanks to its high altitude and advanced snowmaking capabilities. This extended season gives you ample opportunity to hit the slopes. Something to note though, is there is often not enough natural snow, so snow guns have to take over.
The ski field is only a 20-minute drive from Queenstown, making it the closest ski field to Queenstown. This does however make the slopes more crowded.
On the mountain, there are rental shops, ski schools, retail stores, restaurants, and cafes, everything you need.
If you are interested in night skiing, Coronet Peak is one of the few places in New Zealand that offers it! I think it’s worth it though and recommend you try it out at least once. But you will need to purchase an additional night skiing pass, more on that later.
Lastly, the stunning beauty of the landscape surrounding Coronet Peak is an added attraction. From the summit, you are treated to panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range, simply gorgeous.
Cardrona Ski Resort
Cardrona Ski Resort is a winter paradise that offers an exceptional skiing and snowboarding experience.
Situated between Queenstown and Wanaka, Cardrona is home to world-class facilities, stunning scenery, and a diverse range of terrain suitable for all skill levels.
Cardrona is excellent for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, from beginners to advanced riders. It has an excellent beginner area with simple slopes and dedicated learning facilities, making it an ideal spot for those new to snow sports. Intermediate and advanced riders can explore a vast number of trails and challenge themselves on steep runs, exciting terrain parks, and off-piste areas.
The on-mountain accommodation at Cardrona, although limited and fast to book up, is a major drawcard because this is quite rare for New Zealand ski resorts.
Freestyle skiers in particular will love Cardrona as there are fantastically designed jumps, rails, and other innovative features to try. You know it’s good when the resort hosts international events and is a training ground for aspiring athletes. Not quite my thing, but I love watching the pros do insane jumps.
Cardrona’s base area provides a range of amenities, including equipment rental shops, ski schools, retail stores, restaurants, and cafes.
Plus you will Cardrona in particular is known for its welcoming atmosphere and breathtaking views making it a popular choice for families, friends, and solo female travellers alike. The picturesque backdrop of the Southern Alps, combined with the great runs, creates a truly memorable adventure.
Treble Cone Ski Area is situated near Wanaka, in the Otago region and offers a world-class skiing and snowboarding experience that attracts enthusiasts from around the world.
With its spectacular scenery, challenging terrain, and excellent snow conditions, Treble Cone is a prime ski destination in the Southern Hemisphere.
Spanning across two large basins, Treble Cone boasts the largest skiable area on the South Island of New Zealand.
One of the standout features of Treble Cone Ski Area in my eyes is its reputation for having some of the most challenging and diverse terrain in the country. The resort has steep exhilarating runs and excellent off-piste opportunities.
Intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders are spoilt with loads of exciting trails, including wide-open groomed runs, natural half-pipes, and great chutes.
The Saddle Basin and the Motatapu Chutes are particularly famous for their steep runs. Prepare to spike your adrenaline1
That being said, Treble Cone also caters to beginners and intermediate skiers with dedicated learning areas and beginner slopes. The resort provides professional ski and snowboard instructors who offer lessons for all ages and skill levels. Whether you’re a first-time skier or aiming to improve your technique, Treble Cone ensures a safe and enjoyable environment.
When it comes to snow conditions, Treble Cone benefits from its high elevation and its proximity to the Southern Alps. The resort typically receives abundant natural snowfall, and its snow quality is often excellent, providing fantastic powder skiing opportunities. There are also extensive snowmaking capabilities to ensure consistent coverage throughout the season.
The base area features a range of facilities, including equipment rental shops, retail stores, cafés, and restaurants. You can refuel and relax in the cozy lodges or enjoy a hot meal while taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
The ski season at Treble Cone usually runs from late June to early October, with the peak season falling between July and August. During this time, you will find a mix of locals and international visitors.
Last but by no means least, skiing in Queenstown is not complete without a trip to Mt Hutt. Voted as the best New Zealand ski resort, it’s well worth the trek.
Mt Hutt Ski Field is situated near Methven, approximately an hour and a half drive from Christchurch and five and a half hours from Queenstown. Do note that the access road to Mt Hutt is particularly challenging, so make sure you’re prepared with ski chains and follow the signs.
Mt Hutt is known for its consistently good snow, thanks to its high altitude and location in a region known for its cold, crisp winters.
- The ski field typically operates from June to October, offering an extended season. With a generous skiable area, Mt Hutt caters to skiers and snowboarders of all levels, from beginners to advanced riders.
- One of the standout features of Mt Hutt is its wide range of terrain. The ski field offers a mix of groomed runs, off-piste areas, and challenging runs, providing ample opportunities for exploration.
- Beginners can start on the dedicated learner slopes and progress at their own pace, while intermediate and advanced riders can tackle the more challenging trails and experience off-piste skiing. And kids under 10 ski free!
Mt Hutt’s base area features amenities such as equipment rental shops, ski schools, retail outlets, and dining options.
The resort’s summit offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Southern Alps, including the stunning Canterbury Plains.
Something to note is Mt Hutt in the past has been known to close frequently throughout the season due to poor weather conditions. Make sure to check the weather prior to heading there from Queenstown!
How to get around for skiing in Queenstown
Getting around for skiing in Queenstown is convenient, thanks to the range of transport options available.
The most popular way to access ski resorts is by renting a car, as it provides the greatest flexibility. Several car rental companies operate in Queenstown, offering a range of cars suitable for snowy conditions. I rented a car from the airport as it was the most seamless option coming from Australia. Don’t forget your ski chains, you need to carry them on you at all times when driving up the mountains and be prepared to pull over and put them on.
It’s important to note, the roads leading up to the mountains in Queenstown can be steep, winding and tend to vary in difficulty depending on weather conditions. I found it a little scary at first but you get used to it. Generally, the roads are well-maintained and designed to accommodate the flow of visitors heading to the ski resorts. However, it’s important to be prepared and exercise caution, especially when icy or snowy conditions are present.
If you’re uncomfortable driving in challenging conditions or prefer not to drive and worry about parking, buses are available from Queenstown to the ski resorts. They depart throughout the day on a schedule and cost around $25NZD return, picking up passengers from central locations or designated points.
Alternatively, shuttle services are available from Queenstown to the ski resorts. Some accommodations may even be able to arrange a shuttle for you, but be sure to call them in advance to check. They can be a cost-effective way for groups travelling together or large families.
Overall, whether you choose to rent a car, take a shuttle bus or public transportation, Queenstown provides convenient options for getting around to enjoy the incredible skiing opportunities in the region.
What ski pass should I get?
Choosing the right ski pass in New Zealand depends on a few things including your preferred ski areas, trip length and budget.
Here are a few popular options to consider...
Mountain Collective Pass: If you plan to explore multiple ski areas in New Zealand, as well as other international destinations, the Mountain Collective Pass is the best value. This pass gets you access to ski resorts like Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, and Mt Hutt in New Zealand, along with numerous renowned resorts worldwide such as Niseko Japan, Chamonix France and Banff Canada.
NZSki Pass (The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Mt Hutt): If you primarily intend to ski at The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and Mt Hutt, purchasing the NZSki Pass is a great option. You can purchase a multi-day pass or a season pass if you are a local or visiting for a few months. I opted for this pass and purchased a 4-day pass for $436 NZD, which isn’t cheap but the best you’re going to get for a 1-week trip.
Cardrona Alpine Resort Pass: If you prefer skiing at Cardrona Alpine Resort, getting a pass specifically for this resort is a good option. Cardrona offers a range of passes to suit different needs, including full-day, multi-day, and season passes. It is $480NZD for a 4-day pass so it’s more expensive than opting for the NZski Pass that provides access to multiple mountains.
Treble Cone Season Pass: If you are seeking a challenging and exhilarating ski experience, Treble Cone Ski Area is a popular choice. Consider opting for the Treble Cone season pass for $448 NZD.
Night Ski Pass: Keen to try some New Zealand night skiing? You will need to purchase a night ski pass for $79 NZD per night.
Tip: Keep an eye out for early bird discounts or special promotions that can further enhance the value of your ski pass.
Olivia is an accomplished Australian travel blogger and a Campaign Manager at Flight Centre Travel Group. She is currently based in Brisbane, where she balances her full-time career with her passion for travelling the world. Olivia created her blog, Defining Decade, as a platform to empower young women to make the most of their 20s and build a fulfilling life through travel. She firmly believes that your 20s are the perfect time to explore, make unforgettable memories, and discover who you truly are, and what better way than through travel!