Cardrona and The Remarkables, two of the most prominent ski fields within close range of Queenstown, each offer unique experiences tailored to different preferences and skill levels. 

Cardrona, renowned for its reliable snow cover and family-friendly atmosphere, captivates with its well-defined beginner areas, imparting confidence to those new to the sport. The Remarkables, with its striking landscape and proximity to Queenstown, offers a blend of terrain that appeals to both novices and seasoned skiers.

Key Takeaways

  • Cardrona is family-friendly with consistent snow conditions, with wide open terrain and world-class terrain park.
  • The Remarkables is close to Queenstown, offering varied terrain and stunning views.
  • Both ski fields provide quality facilities, ski lessons, and off-slope attractions.

Overview of Cardrona and The Remarkables

Let’s dive into a comparison of two of New Zealand’s coolest ski spots: Cardrona and The Remarkables – each with their own vibe and fan base.

First up, Cardrona. This place is like the friendly neighborhood spot where everyone seems to know your name, or at least, they treat you like they do. Sitting between Queenstown and Wanaka, Cardrona is that middle ground that makes access easy, wherever you’re staying during your trip.

Cardrona ski resort in Wanaka

The mountain itself is like a big, snowy playground. With a base elevation of 1,670 meters and the top lifts taking you up to 1,894 meters, you’re guaranteed to get some sweet views while you shred. And with 600 meters of vertical drop, there’s plenty of room to let loose. The terrain is a mixed bag of treats – 20% beginner runs, 40% intermediate, and 40% advanced, so no matter what level you’re at, you’re good to go.

Cardrona is renowned friendly laidback attitude and expansive wide rolling ski area, with a mix of terrain suitable for all levels but particularly favourable for beginners and intermediate skiers. Cardrona offers a solid mix of facilities including a “chondola” (a combination chairlift and gondola), particularly useful for beginners. The resort also boasts the best park facilities in the Southern Hemisphere if you’re stoked to hit the kickers, rails, and full size half pipe!

Cardrona Terrain park

Cardrona’s got 615 hectares of skiable terrain, which means you can ski or board new lines for a while without getting bored. Plus for 2023 there will be another 150 hectares thanks to a brand new 6 seater chairlift for Soho Basin!

Ready to enjoy an extra 150ha of new terrain? In 2025, we’ll be skiing and snowboarding in Soho Basin! A brand-new 6-seater detachable Doppelmayr chairlift will be installed over the next two summers, ready to open for Winter 2025.

The Soho Basin Express will open up playful terrain, awesome snow, amazing steep stuff, and heaps to explore! – Cardrona 

The snow here is pretty reliable too, with an average snowfall of 2.9 meters. But if Mother Nature’s feeling stingy, the snowmaking guns are on standby to keep the slopes in tip-top shape.

Now, let’s talk about The Remarkables. This place has got a name that sets some high expectations, and guess what? It totally lives up to them. Sitting just a 45-minute drive from Queenstown, The Remarkables is like that cool friend who’s always up for an adventure and has the stories to prove it. 

The Remarkables ski resort

With a base elevation of 1,586 meters and the highest point reaching 1,943 meters, The Remarkables gives you that on-top-of-the-world feeling. The vertical drop is around 357 meters, which might not be as hefty as Cardrona’s, but it’s nothing to scoff at. The views up here are, well, remarkable, and the north-facing slopes mean you get to soak up some sun while you’re carving up the mountain. Plus the resort is in expansion mode too, with a new Shadow Basin lift added in 2024 for 50% more skiable terrain in this zone!

Construction of the new chairlift is well underway, so get stoked on more trails and faster laps  for 2024. Bigger, faster and longer, it will be twice as quick to ride as the old chair, and opens up nearly 50% more lift-accessible terrain in Shadow Basin. – The Remarkables

The wide open spaces and gentle learning areas make it an inviting choice for those starting out. More experienced skiers and snowboarders can explore the various lifts and sections of the ski area including narrower steep runs and chutes to test your technique once you’re warmed up!

When planning your ski trip in the South Island of New Zealand, Cardrona and The Remarkables offer distinct experiences near the towns of Queenstown and Wanaka. Each ski field presents unique draws for beginners and seasoned skiers alike.

Location and Accessibility

Road to queenstown ski resort

Cardrona Alpine Resort is situated in the heart of the Southern Alps, nestled between aānaka and Queenstown. You’ll find Cardrona on the Crown Range Road, which is a stunning alpine drive but can be challenging during winter conditions. The resort is approximately a 55 minute drive from Queenstown and a 30 minute drive from Wanaka.

  • Driving time from Queenstown to Cardrona: ~55 minutes
  • Driving time from Wanaka to Cardrona: ~30 minutes

The Remarkables Ski Field is located in the Remarkables mountain range and is more readily accessible from Queenstown, only about a 45 minute drive away. This ski field is positioned to offer splendid views of Lake Wakatipu and is a convenient choice if you’re staying in Queenstown.

  • Driving time from Queenstown to The Remarkables: ~45 minutes

Transportation and Parking

The Remarkables

  • Bus: Catch a bus from Queenstown, with NZSki services typically running daily during the ski season.
  • Car Rental: Rent a car for more flexibility. The drive from Queenstown to The Remarkables takes less than 45 minutes.
  • Parking: Free parking is available, but get there early as spaces fill up quickly.


  • Bus: Board a Cardrona bus from Queenstown or Wanaka. It’s about a 1.25-1.5 hour trip from Queenstown and around 45 minutes from Wanaka.
  • Car Rental: Having your own wheels means you can transit on your own schedule. The Crown Range road can be icy, so drive with caution.
  • Parking: Parking is provided but, as with The Remarkables, it’s best to arrive early.

Ticketing and Passes

You can purchase lift passes for both ski fields online or at the mountain. Prices may vary between peak and off-peak times. Multi-day passes can offer savings and are worth considering for longer visits.

Protip: Snopro guarantee Cardrona lift pass availability which can be delivered to your accommodation with your ski rental order.

Gear and Rentals

To enjoy your ski trip, it’s critical to be properly equipped. You can rent gear at both the Remarkables and Cardrona, which means you don’t need to invest in expensive equipment if you’re a beginner or don’t ski regularly. Plus there is ample choice in Queenstown and Wanaka for ski hire. Wherever you rent from it’s best to plan ahead as queues can be long in the evenings and mornings even if you’ve pre-booked!

Protip: You can skip the queues in ski hire shops with Snopro’s unique ski rental delivery service. Get your gear delivered and custom-fitted in the comfort of your accommodation! You can even have a Cardrona lift pass delivered with your order. All you have to do is hit the slopes!

Ski Schools and Lessons

Cardrona’s ski school has a fabulous reputation, particularly for beginners and children. You can choose between group lessons or private lessons, depending on your preference for personal attention and the pace of learning.

The Remarkables also offers a comprehensive ski school, with an array of lessons that cater well to families and individuals. Their friendly instructors are known to provide excellent guidance, whether it’s your first time on skis or you’re looking to improve your technique.

Protip: Be sure to book ski lessons in advance to during the peak school holiday weeks!

Tips for a Great Ski Trip

Planning your ski holiday involves more than just choosing a resort. To make the most of your time at The Remarkables or Cardrona, consider the best season to visit and ensure you have the right gear.

Best Time to Visit

School Holidays: If you prefer quieter slopes, avoid planning your trip during school holidays when the resorts are most crowded. The New Zealand winter school holidays typically fall in July, which coincides with peak ski season. Read more about the Best Time to Go Skiing in Queenstown.

  • The Remarkables: The ski season usually runs from June to October, offering plenty of time to plan your visit. To experience fresh snow and fewer crowds, aim for August.
  • Cardrona: Similar to The Remarkables, Cardrona’s season often spans from June to October. Again, August can be ideal as the snow will still be good, and the school holiday crowd has dispersed.


Frequently Asked Questions

When choosing between ski resorts, you might have some questions about where to spend your time on the slopes. This section aims to address those queries specifically around Cardrona and The Remarkables.

Which ski resort is better for beginner skiers, Cardrona or The Remarkables?

Cardrona often comes highly recommended for beginners owing to its wide, gentle slopes and big learning area. The Remarkables also offers good facilities for novice skiers, but Cardrona’s expansive beginner terrain may give it an edge for those just starting out.

How do Cardrona and The Remarkables compare for a family ski holiday?

Both Cardrona and The Remarkables are family-friendly, with lessons available for new skiers of varying ages. The Remarkables is closer to Queenstown, which could be convenient for families staying there, while Cardrona boasts shorter drive times from Wanaka. Both ski areas have extensive base buildings and refreshments to keep the whole family warm and fuelled for a day on the mountain.

What’s the most recommended ski field for beginners in the Queenstown area?

In the Queenstown area, both Cardrona and The Remarkables are frequently recommended for beginners. However, if you’re looking for an area specifically tailored for learning, Cardrona’s extensive beginner areas and ‘chondola’ ski lift might give it the edge. Always check current conditions and services which can vary each week.

[avatar] Author: Eliot Prince