The Complete Guide to Skiing in Queenstown, all you need to know for your next winter getaway.
New Zealand’s Queenstown is the perfect winter holiday ski destination.
Never more beautiful than in mid-winter. Simply flying into Queenstown Airport easily makes a holiday unforgettable. The glistening snow-topped peaks resemble clouds from 30,000 feet but as you descend you’ll realize that jaggedly mountains dominating the skyline.
Explore the range of ski fields surrounding the area including the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona, and Treble Cone. Skiing in Queenstown creates a holiday in itself, you might be hard pushed to fit any other activities in once you’re on top of the world.
Dates for Skiing in Queenstown
The ski season on New Zealand’s South Island generally runs from mid-June until early October. The exact dates for each ski field vary every winter depending on snow conditions.
Opening and closing dates are often flexible. So when the snow is good, expect to eek out a few extra dates in early season and spring.
Check out all the updated ski area opening dates for 2023!
Make sure you are aware of peak weeks to make sure you are booking flights, accommodation and ski rental early enough in advance. July is the busiest period for skiing in Queenstown and Wanaka as both towns buzz with skiers and snowboarders.
If you’re keen to get the most out of your ski trip even during peak weeks then check out our ‘Inside Guide to getting the most out of your ski day’
Queenstown and Wanaka’s Ski Resorts
The Remarkables offers wide-ranging skiable terrain in an iconic location. A 45-minute journey up to the snow from Queenstown, so it can be helpful to get an early start to your ski day. The rewards are there though, especially when fresh morning snow glistens cold at over 1600 metres. The introduction of a new chairlift in 2021 the Sugar Bowl Express has opened up 2.5kms of new trails with a whole new side of the mountain to explore, and a new base building that was added in 2015. Resulting in easy access to lifts and broad sunny decking for a quick coffee break. There is a whole lot more exciting stuff to come too. Including plans for a 230m tunnel near the top of curvey basin chairlift to be added in the next 3-5 years, which will more than double the skiable terrain. So…Watch this space. Read More>>
Coronet Peak is a perfect option for those who are skiing in Queenstown and want quick access up and down the hill. A swift drive or bus ride to the ski resort means skiers can have a half-day on the mountain and experience Queenstown’s excitable energy. There is no need for excessively early starts, especially when staying in some of the nearby luxury accommodation and hotels. Despite a lower altitude compared to other nearby ski fields, the South facing aspect helps snow to stay cold and crisp throughout winter. It’s also the place to be for an unreal sunrise or sunset view if you get your hands on a first tracks or night ski pass. Read More>>
One of New Zealand’s most welcoming ski resorts, Cardrona is easily accessible from both Wanaka and Queenstown. The location and modern facilities, including the new Willow Basin chairlift installed for the 2021 season, complete a bustling ski field that makes life simple for beginners. The all-action ski resort enjoys a world-famous reputation becoming the home to international winter sports athletes from June through to October. Wide-open groomers, freestyle pioneers and smiling face, Cardrona has it all. Read more>>
Treble Cone provides eye-catching appeal for riders who like to explore the limit of skiing and snowboarding. The ski field is designed to cater for intermediate and advanced skiers with elongated steep runs. You’ll think you’re on top of the world as you carve the groomers and slash the pow while enjoying lakeside vistas. Freeriders joy at the backcountry terrain made accessible, especially on a powder day.
The Best Places to Stay when Skiing in Queenstown
Queenstown is a busy multicultural town with ski accommodation to suit every budget. Many are perfectly placed to access the local ski resorts including Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cardrona.
Some lodgings are more ski friendly accommodation options that include ski lockers, shuttles and knowledgeable staff. For a selection of high-quality options check out hotels such as The Rees or The Spire or for private villas, Platinum Villas and Villa del Lago are ski impeccable choices. If you’re looking for something particular, Relaxaway offers a selection of premier Queenstown holiday houses and apartments.
For more ski accommodation choices in Queenstown head over to our in-depth ‘Ski Friendly Accommodation in Queenstown’ guide.
Where to Hire your Ski Gear
Gone are the days of trekking into town to be met with long queues and poorly fitted ski and snowboard rental equipment. Pretty much everything is available for delivery in the 21st century thanks to the internet. This includes your ski rental.
Snopro Ski Hire provides a unique ski rental delivery service across Queenstown and Wanaka.
‘Make your ski holiday simple and stress-free with your very own ski concierge to deliver and custom fit the very latest in ski and snowboard gear. All in the comfort of your accommodation, we even return for support and pick up! This is the Snopro difference, and it comes standard!’
Snopro has even developed what we think is the world most advanced ski hire booking engine.
How to get to the Slopes
So do you need a rental car for your holiday skiing in Queenstown and Wanaka? A good question that naturally varies depending on the rest of your trip.
There are a number of transport options for getting to all of the local ski resorts. Queenstown visitors have plentiful bus options for getting to Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cardrona.
Cardrona Alpine Resort provides skiers with busses that serve both Wanaka and Queenstown. There is also the option to catch the free mountain shuttle from the Pine Trees carpark, located at the 1km mark on the access road.
Treble Cone may be a touch harder to access from Queenstown mainly due to the extended travel time. It is readily accessible from Wanaka via a shuttle bus that delivers you for a full ski day.
While the bus services provide a handy option they can quite quickly restrict the flexibility of your ski day. You might find that you are on the mountain early in the morning until late afternoon. Not ideal if you have more than skiing planned for your winter holiday.
Having a rental car may well be a good choice for freedom and simplicity. Jump in the car when you’re ready in the morning. Don’t worry too much about alarm clocks and bus timetables. However, it may still pay to get an early start in order to get a parking spot near the slopes and avoid queues. Take care when self-driving as weather can often be hazardous and snow chains are required to be carried throughout the season.
A selection of other transport choices are available to suit including buses or private transfers. It could be well worth paying for private transport if you are a large group. It may well be cheaper than everyone buying individual bus tickets.
Buying Passes for both Queenstown and Wanaka Ski Resorts
Buying a ski pass for any of the premier ski areas in Queenstown and Wanaka is straightforward. You are able to preorder a pass online for Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona and Treble Cone.
NZSki who operate Coronet Peak and The Remarkables have an office situated in the centre of Queenstown. It’s super handy and a massive time saver to pick up your passes from the Snow Centre the night before. It’ll save you time queuing in the morning. The NZSki pass is a handy one too as it gives you access to both their ski resorts.
Cardrona & Treble Cone Ski passes can be used at both ski fields. With offices in both Queenstown and Wanaka you can buy your ski passes before arriving on the mountain, or skip the queues altogether and book your pass and ski hire gear with Snopro. For 2022 Cardrona has developed a new pos system. Now when you purchase a pass through Snopro you will be emailed a barcode so you can simply scan this at one of the fancy new kiosk machines located all over both mountains, and it will spit those passes out for you.
It is possible to buy lift tickets on arrival at your chosen resort. This might be pretty painless at quiet times of the winter. As you may have gathered, it is generally advisable to grab a pass the day before you intended to ride to avoid queues when you could be skiing.
Apres Ski and Restaurants
Some of the Best Apres-Ski Spots to Visit after a day of Skiing in Queenstown
Farelli’s Trattoria – Perfect for families looking for a relaxing evening. Casual, rustic Italian dining in Central Queenstown.
Ivy & Lola’s – On Lake Wakatipu shores, in the Steamer Wharf building, Ivy & Lola’s serve up hearty food with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients and locally-sourced produce.
Thai Cuisine – Tasty dishes that arrive sizzling hot in no time at all. Casual Thai eatery featuring a menu of curries, noodles & wok dishes.
Atlas – A favourite local hangout serving craft beers and famously good steaks. Atlas is a friendly, unpretentious bar, hidden away at the back of Steamer Wharf.
Harry’s Pool Bar – If you’re looking for music, beers, pizza and endless games of pool. Home to 7 pool tables, wide screen TVs, large open fire and relaxing lounge area.
The World Bar – An awesome spot for afternoon and evening drinks, chunky burgers, teapot cocktails, craft beer and all sorts of events & live music.
Looking for some family-friendly activities? Have a look at these 6 Family Friendly Apres-Ski Choices in Queenstown
Let’s be honest there’s no shortage of things to do in Queenstown and Wanaka. You may even be exhausted from exploring the ski resorts across both lakeside towns, but you only live once right? Adding another lighting rod of colour, fun and excitement are events and festival throughout the winter that locals and visitors love.
Luma Light Festival – Using Queenstown’s unique alpine canvas as a giant amphitheatre for local, national and international talent to paint with light.
Winter Pride – Jam-packed with amazing events, including dance parties, apres ski, cabaret and ski and boarding, the festival is the perfect week for people to show their true selves in an accepting, supportive and fun community.
Mountain Film Festival – The NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival travels to Queenstown and Wanaka presenting a wide range of films, guest speakers, workshops and presentations from inspirational adventurers from within NZ and around the world.
Snow Machine – Head up Coronet Peak and Remarkables for a festival like no other. Ski your favourite runs and get down to some amazing DJ’s on the mountain top stages right through into the night for the ultimate après event.
Snopro Ski Hire is delivering ski rental across Queenstown and Wanaka. Our aim is to provide awesome service along with your equipment. We only employ ski tech’s with a passion for the snow, so they know all the ins and outs of skiing in Queenstown and Wanaka. If you’ve still got any more questions after reading this guide then don’t hesitate to ask us!