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Your ultimate ski season guide - everything you need to know before hitting New Zealand's slopes!

There is no where in the world where within two hours of an airport, you can surf on the beach and ski in the mountains! Seeing as the "Winter is coming" (can one really go two minutes without a GoT reference these days?!) we thought we'd give you the ultimate New Zealand ski and snowboarding guide.

Which ski fields to visit:

Queenstown - The Remarkables 

First things first, Queenstown needs to be on our bucket list regardless of whether you ski or not! Its pretty epic! 

Transportation:

In terms of skiing and snowboarding, the The Remarkables is a 37 minute drive from Queenstown however if you don't drive there are alternative options - Bus and hotel pick up. The daily bus service runs from the Queenstown Snow Centre on Duke St in Central Queenstown via most main bus stops to and from the ski area.

You can jump on at any designated stop along the route when spaces are available. If you purchase online, please make sure you pick up your Mypass Card before you jump on your bus to the mountains. The lovely folk at The Remarkables also pick up from all major hotels along route from the Snow Centre on Duke St in central Queenstown to Coronet Peak or The Remarkables Ski Fields. 

Passes, rentals and lessons: 

Don't for one second feel overwhelmed if you a beginner - we all started somewhere! The Remarkables has something to offer everyone from the novice bunny hoppers to the slope experts. They have different packages available from 'introduction to snow' to 'family leaner experience' and more. The same is true for their lessons and programs - whether you want private or group lessons. It is always highly recommended to book lessons if you're a beginner. 

Skiing and snowboarding also require a lot of gear but don't worry, most of us don't have this gear stashed away in our garages all Summer long waiting for the Winter fun to come. You can rent everything from clothing, equipment and even sleds on site! Also, if you’re keen to see more and save a dollar or two, you can cash in on their Mountain Collective Pass or 3 Peak Pass. The Mountain Collective offers discounts and benefits internationally, while the 3 Peak Pass offers discounts and benefits for The Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt. Well worth it if you’re planning on visiting a few spots!

 

The Remarkables Ski Fields

Queenstown - Coronet Peak 

Only a 25 minute drive from central Queenstown, Coronet Peak is the home of the night ski and lights up (literally) every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings. When the sun sets on these evenings, the DJ, mulled wine, incredible food and fire pits light up the night! You won't get to experience this kind of atmosphere in many places in the world. We'd highly recommend setting your sights on this slope during this time! 

Transportation:

Exactly like The Remarkables, you can opt to get the bus or organise a hotel pick up for this ski fields. The Coronet Peak bus departs every 20 minutes between the hours of 8am - 12pm from the Snow Centre on Duke Street. 

Passes, rentals and lessons: 

Despite the terrain being described as a roller coaster, this peak does have plenty of packages and lessons for beginners, children and families. Like the Remarkables, they also have plenty of rental clothing and equipment too. To learn more click here. Speaking of rentals, have you ever looked into buying second hand ski and snowboarding gear? Don't rule this out either as buying second hand can save you heaps if you're going to be a ski regular - there's plenty of perfectly great gear being sold on Trade Me

Coronet Peak Night Ski

Queenstown - Cardrona

This is a mountain that boasts breath-taking views, allowing you to see all the way over to Queenstown. Cardrona is welcoming and a little less stressful (by that we mean there's a gondola enclosed style lift - we're not all chair lift fanatics, some of us end up face planting the snow!) 

Transportation: 

This peak is accessible from all three surrounding towns. 35 minutes from Wanaka, 45 minutes from Arrowtown and 60 minutes from Queenstown and with a high altitude, Cardrona typically has some of the south island's most awesome ski conditions which they pride themselves in maintaining using an innovative snow management system. 

Passes, rentals and lessons: 

They have everything that you would find in both The Remarkables and Coronet Peak - this mountain has packages and lessons that would also suit the learner to the elite. They also have an Adaptive Snow Sports Program which provides support for people physical, sensory and cognitive impairments. It is truly an adaptive program because they have  sports equipment specially modified so that everyone can enjoy the slopes. 

Cardrona Ski Field

Wanaka - Treble Cone

Just a cool 25 minutes from Wanaka, enter the largest ski field in the south island; Treble Cone! At 550 hectares (and for those who don't know what a hectare is, it's a heck of a lot of land! - we're pretty  sure that's where the measurement derived from?) this mountain is famous for it's uncrowded, smooth runs and unrivalled views of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. 

Transportation: 

Treble Cone have plenty of 'chain and hassle free' options to get you to their mountain. The Treble Cone express is a free bus that has four pick up and drop off locations situated in Wanaka. This service is free for Treble Cone lift pass holders and departs for Treble Cone from Wanaka at 07:45 and 08:30 daily. Additionally, there's the Treble Cone shuttle that allows pass holders to travel up and down the Treble Cone access road. No need to fit chains to your vehicle on snow days, simply hop on-board an alight at our base building.

The shuttle departs frequently from the bottom of the road between 08:30 - 12:00 and 14:00 - 16:00. Cars may be left in the bottom car park. 

Passes, rentals and lessons: 

Treble Cone has a number of passes that are flexible enough to suit all walks of life - from families, to those wishing to ski and rent BUT if you're still unsure which pass and package is best suited for you? Why not use their online which pass is right for me tool? It gives users 8x scenarios based on expected frequency of skiing and age and their corresponding suggested pass. Handy eh? (No more buying a season pass and only going once! D'oh!)

 

Treble Cone ski field

Canterbury - Mt Hutt

Mt. Hutt wasn't voted New Zealand's best ski resort for four years running at the World Ski Awards for no reason! Apparently, you have not had the ultimate ski experience until you've been skied Mt. Hutt. This mountain posses wide open terrain with leg burning runs, monster snowfalls and spectacular views - from the top of the snow, you can literally see all the way out onto the water - it's insane! 

Transportation:

Located 1 hour and 15 minutes from Christchurch, there are three mains means of transport for those wishing to venture up this beauty.The daily Mt Hutt bus service departs from most major accommodation providers in Methven with a pick-up scheduled service to and from Mt Hutt Ski Area. There is also a shuttle service from Christchurch. Please contact Methven Travel for more details.

Snowman Shuttles provides daily transport services from both Christchurch and Methven with departure from Christchurch each day at 7:00am, and Methven at 8.00am. You will be delivered right to the ticket office for a full day on the ski slopes. Sightseers and non-skiers are welcome. Several convenient point pick up locations across Christchurch plus door to door service in both Christchurch and Methven.

Mt Hutt is located a 90 minute drive from Christchurch Airport and around a 30 minute drive from nearby Methven. If you’re driving yourself, please be aware that snow chains must be carried at all times, in case of inclement weather. If chain fitting is required, they run a hire and fit service from the bottom of their access road. Please be aware that they may not have chains to fit low profile or larger 4WD tyres.

Passes, rentals and lessons:

If you're Christchurch based and thinking you'll only ski in Mt. Hutt for the Winter season, then the unlimited ski pass option is for you. For those who will be travelling around the south island, there is an awesome 3 Peak Pass which gives you unlimited skiing and snowboarding at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Mt. Hutt. This pass also contains benefits such as discounts on rentals, other mountain passes and pass protection. 

 

Mt. Hutt Ski Field

 

What to pack: 

  • Warm gloves that are waterproof
  • A waterproof ski jacket and pants are absolutely essential
  • A neck warmer, particularly one you can pull up over your lips and nose
  • A good pair of ski goggles are great to block out the sun, wind and snow (if the blowers are on)
  • Warm socks are essential (think really warm, wooly ones!) and spare ones too! No harm! 
  • A comfy pair of waterproof shoes to wear to and from the ski fields
  • Jumpers and fleece make for great layers underneath your ski jacket
  • Sunscreen is another essential, be sure to slap it on before you go and reapply during the day
  • It’s also a great idea to carry a good lip balm on you to help avoid chapped lips
  • A beanie for your head but that's if you're not wearing a helmet 
  • You’ll also want to pop on some long johns or thermal underwear as your base layer, to help keep warm! Trust us, you'll thank us later! 

 

It doesn't matter if you're not a ski or snowboarding fan; all mountains have excellent eateries and drinks options. We would always recommend planning a trip to the mountains regardless as it's such an incredible way to see one of New Zealand's many beautiful and breath takings views. If you're keen to learn more check out the lovely folks at 100% Pure New Zealand for more information.