We’re pretty lucky here in the Queenstown Lakes District in that we’ve got not 1, but 4 different Winter resorts to throw yourself down when the snow comes calling. But if you’re never been here before, which one is for you?
Coronet Peak: The closest resort to Queenstown (25min drive to the top) but also the shortest in terms of height (approx. 1650m). Coronet Peak boasts picturesque views out over the Wakatipu Basin from it’s relatively new base building, the most snow-making technology in the Southern Hemisphere, and the only place in NZ for night-riding. When the snow-base is over 90cm that means the whole mountain is ride-able, and the terrain on those good days is almost unbeatable, but snow can be fickle due to it’s low height, and easy access can mean it gets busy. New high-speed 6-chair on it’s way for 2019 season!
The Remarkables: Second closest resort (35min drive to the top), approx. 1960m in height, and one of 2 mountain ranges in the world that all it’s peaks line up perfectly South/North. New base building, road now asphalted almost the full drive from the bottom, and epic slack-country terrain and parks make this resort a damn good time. Has the Freeride World Tour drop in every year to ride the in-bounds terrain – should give you an idea what you can access from the chairlifts – and one of 4 resorts in the world with a Burton Stash Park (as well as beginner/intermediate/advanced parks). Something for everyone, but it’s rocky nature means it needs good snowfall to cover up all those shark-fins.
Cardrona: Approximately halfway between Wanaka and Queenstown (50min-60min drive to the top), approx. 1950m in height, and probably the best all round resort in the South Island. Dirt road to drive up, but has the most facilities at the top (multiple restaurants, bars etc.), the most chairlifts, biggest parks, world-cup super pipe, and all-round good terrain to ride. They’ve got big plans for Cardrona in the coming years with more chairlifts and double the terrain, but they do need it as being in between Wanaka and Cardrona, it’s also one of the busiest consistently. Still incredibly hard to beat, and to be fair, school holidays are busy everywhere – so make sure you visit this one a couple of times.
Treblecone: About a 2hr drive to the top from Queenstown, Treblecone is currently the largest and tallest ski-resort in the South Island (approx. 2080m). It’s a hell of a drive up a very steep dirt road, but for the intermediate-to-advanced riders out there, this one needs to be on your hit list. Boasts the best freeride terrain the country, and the views over Lake Wanaka look like they’re painted. Pretty quaint base building setup, and only 2 chairlifts, this one is really all about the steep chutes and crazy lines that you don’t even have to hike to. If you’ve got some time up your sleeve and a bit of skill in your back pocket, don’t miss an opportunity to check it out.
No matter which resort you decide to spend your time in this season, just make sure you get your accommodation booked now – bragging rights don’t just apply to your riding 😉