As any skiing or snowboarding enthusiast would know, a fresh dump of snow on the slopes is the most important part of a good ski season. While you can shred as much powder as you want, when it’s the same powder down the same run over and over again, it’s not just your legs that start to get tired.
When it comes to variety, few places do it better than Queenstown. One of New Zealand’s major ski resort areas, this little Otago town has everything you could want as a beginner or expert skier or boarder. Don’t think Queenstown has chosen quantity over quality either; all of the options below will have you smiling from peak to base.
A remarkable time
Featuring one of New Zealand’s premier skiing and boarding learning facilities, The Remarkables is Queenstown’s best ski resort for beginners and families. During the season, children aged 10 years or younger have free access to the slopes. There are learning programs for all ages and the mountain range offers everything from beginner green runs to the expert-only double black diamond runs.
For anyone wanting to get a little hang time, The Remarkables also features three terrain parks that progress in difficulty and offer jumps, rails, boxes and other fixtures to perform tricks off. Not everyone enjoys skiing or snowboarding – if you’re one of those people, there’s the Ozone Snow Tubing Park to give you the same downhill excitement without the risk of nasty falls.
The real alpine experience
Every ski resort offers a similar experience: with queues, lifts, crowds and beginner riders that are more likely to knock you over than a slippery patch of ice. Fortunately at Invincible Snowfields, a privately owned mountain recreation spot near Glenorchy, you can experience quality backcountry skiing and boarding without the drawbacks of typical slopes.
Invincible Snowfields is only accessible via helicopter, which takes small groups to the Invincible Hut located around 1650-metres above sea level. This cosy lodge becomes your accommodation and you can literally step out the front door onto an untouched mountainside boasting some of the freshest powder you’ll ever see.
Completely isolated from the rest of Queenstown, you have the entire mountain to yourself, with the potential for some awesome runs, natural jumps and whatever else you can think of. Known for its steep face and adventurous terrain, Invincible Snowfields should only be visited by confident and experienced boarders and skiers.
From morning until night
There are few other experiences in life that provide the same magical feeling as cruising down a mountain at night with the snow around you glowing in the moonlight. You can enjoy such a moment at Coronet Peak, Queenstown’s closest skifield, which boasts the longest opening hours and night skiing from July to September.
Coronet Peak receives some of the best snowfall in Queenstown, which complements its eclectic terrain. Like the Remarkables, Coronet Peak has plenty of runs ranging from beginner level, to expert trails as high as 1649 metres, as well as designated racing areas.
Everything’s better with helicopters
Even the best mountain slopes can be degraded to slush under the boards and skis of New Zealand’s large crowds. Fortunately, there’s one place where you’ll always be able to find fresh, uncharted snow. Heliskiing or heliboarding gives you the golden key to all of the untouched slopes in the Southern Alps of New Zealand.
A helicopter flies you and your friends up to the top of a selection of Queenstown’s mountains, where you have access to more than 1,200 metres of wild and beautiful backcountry. It’s the deepest snow and the most freedom you might ever experience while skiing or snowboarding. You can take guided tours down the mountains or just go solo. Build jumps in the snow, shoot some film or simply revel in the gorgeous views; it doesn’t matter, you’ve got the entire mountain to yourself.
Snow trekking like an Arctic explorer
Ditch the skis or snowboard and slip on a pair of snowshoes for an adventurous trek through Queenstown’s backcountry. With expert equipment and guides, you can access the more secluded areas of the mountains.
It’s a great chance for people who don’t ski or board to get out onto the snow and experience New Zealand’s incredible nature. Remember to pack a camera, because you’ll want to capture those epic views.