Queenstown: A Skiing and Snowboarding Utopia
Bustling with energy and surrounded by breathtaking terrain, Queenstown is a place where skiers, snowboarders, adrenaline junkies and tourists converge to experience their slice of heaven. Since the 1950's the region has been attracting national and international visitors, and it responded to the demand by building bigger, better and more diverse ski fields. Join the guys from Wild Weekend as they carve up the snow at Coronet Peak and Cardrona.
Your next adventure: Snow sports at Coronet Peak and Cardrona
Where in the world? Queenstown, New Zealand
Activity: Snowboarding, Skiing
Difficulty: Trail difficulty ranges from beginner to intermediate and advanced. If you're deciding which ski field to visit, you can check their trail maps online to scope it out before you go.
Wrap up: Whether you're a backpacker, snow sports enthusiast, athlete, adrenaline junkie or explorer – there is plenty to do in Queenstown. The slopes at the major ski fields are well maintained and offer a great variety for different skill levels.
Wild Weekend Suggested Itinerary
Day 1: Arrived in Queenstown and drove to Coronet Peak to test hire boards and do some warm up runs. We stayed the night in Arrowtown (close to Cardrona and Coronet Peak).
Day 2 (morning): Early morning start at Cardrona Ski Field. The first part of the day was spent on-piste riding (marked snow path) and we went snow park riding later in the day.
Day 2 (afternoon): Experienced a different kind of heart pumping action at the local ice hockey game –Queenstown's home team Stampede versus the Canterbury Devils. After the game we had a beer with fellow skiers and snowboarders at a few après ski bars.
Day 3: Left early again for Cardrona Ski Field for some off-piste riding (unprepared areas off the trail). This is only suitable for people with snowboard and ski experience.
Day 4: Spent half the day snowboarding at Coronet Peak (close to airport) and finished the trip with some speedy runs down the main piste.
Places to Stay
- Arrowtown to Queenstown: 21 minute drive (20.5 km)
- Arrowtown to Coronet Peak: 24 minute drive (21.4 km)
- Arrowtown to Cardrona: 57 minute drive (45.1 km)
Heading into Town
On our third night in Queenstown we went to a local ice hockey game of the Queenstown Stampede versus the Canterbury Devils. It was on. The atmosphere was buzzing as we cheered with the locals and watched as the Stampede defeated the devils 2-1 in high speed, fierce and action packed match. Post-game we headed out to some après ski bars in Queenstown for some drinks with fellow skiers and snowboarders – the perfect end to the day.
Continue the Adventure Nearby
Tips and Hints from Wild Weekend
- If you're hiring a car make sure you hire chains and know how to put them on properly, or you can catch the NZski's official bus service if you're not keen on the idea of navigating the icy roads.
- Take a well padded jacket with good ventilation and protection.
- Layer your clothing – wear a thermal layer next to your skin, with a fleece jacket over the top and a ski jacket on the outside.
- Wear goggles with sun protection.
- Make sure you wear waterproof pants.
- Make sure your travel insurance covers snow sports!
What we packed
When you're on the slopes you'll want a jacket that will keep you dry and comfortable so you can stay out there as long as possible! Our Obermeyer Bravo and Foundation 15 Jackets were warm, breathable and waterproof, and also came with a snow scarf which was handy when the snow blew in over the piste.
When you're skiing or snowboarding, taking a fall is all part of the experience. We took a few tumbles off-piste without any tears or wet patches and also got plenty of movement with Obermeyer's Axiom Suspender Pant.
A comfy and warm beanie will go a long way in Queenstown and you'll be very grateful you packed one. We wore Mammut's Eisberg Beanie and loved the way it covered our ears – the shape is kind of like an old school motorcycle helmet!
If you're planning on picking up speed on the slopes you'll need a good pair of goggles that protect your eyes from the sun and the cold air. Our Smith Cascade RC36 Goggles were a great fit and gave us great visibility, even when it started snow on the piste.
Your hands will get very cold, very quickly, so make sure you've got a pair of good quality and cosy gloves. Mammut and Berghaus both do well in this department – we took Mammut's Expert Tour Glove.
Having a weather forecast at the ready is invaluable for skiers and snowboarders. The SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak is a tough piece of machinery that makes it easy to see the conditions at a glance and can also be used to track your activity.