It’s official – we have started our slow march into Winter. For the sticklers of you, you’ll say “but we’re always marching towards Winter if it’s not Winter, right?”, but for a variety of reasons it always feels more ‘official’ once we hit April. For starters, if you were intending on relocating to Queenstown or Wanaka for the season, you would have wanted to purchase your season passes prior to April, as that’s the cut-off for ‘Early Bird’ pricing. For us it’s always a last minute decision, based on spur-of-the-moment haste just prior to midnight on the 31st of March. This is partly because you’re holding out hope you can afford more than one season pass, but mostly because you want to make sure you choose the resort that’s right for you, and coincidentally will have most of your friends riding there through the season as well. The feeling of impending shred-days is also exacerbated by the start of daylight savings on the 2nd of April, after which the temptation to drag out your shred-kit increases ten-fold.
For us in the Queenstown Lakes District area, it’s generally a choice between NZSki (The Remarkables and Coronet Peak), Cardrona and Treblecone. For those based in Queenstown it’s probably a choice between NZSki and Cardrona, and for those in Wanaka it may be between Cardrona and Treblecone. Cardrona is pretty much in between Wanaka and Queenstown, and thus tends to be convenient enough for both towns. However the proximity of the resorts only really matters if you’re intending on doing a season here. For those that are coming over for holiday, we would highly suggest to leave your decision-making until you get here, and not get too caught up in the distance to the resorts.
This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, terrain and conditions can vary quite significantly between each mountain, and depending on the day it may be better to go ‘here’ rather than ‘there’ so to speak. Holding off until you get here gives you the best chance at getting the best conditions at whichever resort on that day, and if you’re serious about slashing the white stuff, this is enough of a reason in itself. The second reason is that when you’re visiting, you should endeavor to experience as many resorts as possible. If it’s your first time here, you may find a particular mountain suits you and your riding style, and thus finding that mountain might be paramount to getting the most out of your holiday. But – rather more poetically – we should also remember to enjoy the journey. Our roads are surrounded by vistas you find on postcards and instagram, and sometimes (particularly if you drive yourself) you might just find that hidden gem on the way back for that apres drink you’ve positively earned that day.
Whatever resort you decide, just remember that no ‘epic’ day starts by complaining about the effort required for said day. Just make sure you book your accommodation ahead of time if you want to be at Queenstown’s best and most central accommodation. Just because the resorts aren’t especially convenient, doesn’t mean everything else can’t be 😉