A ski holiday in New Zealand is the holiday of a lifetime. Everywhere you turn there are breathtaking views, alpine peaks, azure lakes and welcoming resort towns filled with restaurants and bars galore, as well as characteristic Kiwi hospitality. Here’s a round-up of what’s new for New Zealand’s ultimate winter playground in 2017…
The First Cabin-Style Ski Lift in New Zealand
A game-changer for the New Zealand ski industry will be the new $NZ10 million ($A9.6 million) combined lift of gondolas and chairs at Cardrona Alpine Resort, Wanaka, making it faster and easier to get up the mountain. The new McDougall’s Express Chondola will be a high-speed, detachable six-seater chair, with an eight-person gondola cabin between every four chairs. This new lift will be 100 metres closer to Cardrona’s base area and increase uphill capacity for McDougall’s by 150 per cent, which in turn will decrease wait times on all other mountain lifts.
The McDougall’s Express Chondola will provide a one-of-a-kind beginner experience in New Zealand, with first-time skiers and snowboarders able to walk on and off a gondola cabin, and ride to the top of the mountain on their first day.
Penthouse No. 10, Now Even More Lavish
If money’s no object, consider settling in to Penthouse No. 10, the new-look top suite at Queenstown’s award-winning Sofitel Hotel that recently underwent an impressive $NZ2 million ($A1.9 million) upgrade.
Located just a few steps from the heart of Queenstown on the top floor of the Sofitel, the 225-square-metre penthouse features sweeping views of Lake Wakatipu, two living areas and fireplaces, an eight-seat dining table, private movie theatre, Bose audio system and latest-technology Apple TV with more than 120 TV channels. An oversized patio comes complete with a Jacuzzi for six.
Penthouse No. 10 can accommodate up to six guests, and features a walk-in wardrobe with makeup table and full-length mirror. The opulent bathrooms, finished with European porcelain, feature rain showers and a full body-length bath with a built-in TV and exquisite Hermes products.
The private bar provides a selection of French and New Zealand wines, French Champagne and high-end spirits. There’s a butler at the service of guests and the hotel’s talented Executive Chef will personally craft afternoon canapes daily. Every stay at Penthouse No. 10 includes a range of luxury extras, including private airport transfers, breakfast and canapes served daily in Left Bank Bistro or in the privacy of the Penthouse.
There’s also a decadent wellbeing component that includes a two-hour treatment of choice from the menu at Sofitel Queenstown’s award-winning So Spa. Guests can choose to have their So Spa treatment in the privacy of the Penthouse, or even on the balcony while overlooking scenic Lake Wakatipu.
Design Hotel QT Comes to Queenstown
QT Queenstown – on track for a September 2017 opening – will be the first 5-star design hotel to hit Queenstown and is sure to make its mark on the neighbourhood with bold, eccentric design.
Locals have already had a taste of the quirky QT style that is to come with Bazaar Interactive Marketplace and Reds Bar – the two immersive dining experiences the hotel will offer. Bazaar Interactive Marketplace showcases an international mosaic of foods including seafood, cheese and charcuterie bars, Asian and grill stations, authentic Italian wood-fired pizzas and a dessert bar bursting with house-made creative sweets and pastries. Bazaar chefs provide a theatrical and thoroughly interactive dining experience to create both a gastronomic and visual feast (if you can tear your eyes away from the unparalleled views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain ranges, including the The Remarkables).
Reds Bar emulates a contemporary living space that is a mixture of nostalgic alpine and apres-ski ambiance with equally impressive views. Decor elements including Eames-era chairs and pops of bold colour are some of the unmissable design highlights. Reds Bar is a party bar, with resident DJs playing late into the night and an extensive cocktail list showcasing a twist on the modern and forgotten.
Designed by Nic Graham, styled by Anna Roberts, with costumes by Janet Hine and art curated by Amanda Love, QT will consist of 69 larger boutique designer suites.
A New Season of Charlie Brown Crepes
This cute little food truck hit the Wanaka scene in July 2016, with General Manager Charlie Scarceriaux arranging for the caravan to be built in France and transported all the way to New Zealand. Serving sweet French crepes as well as savoury, gluten-free galettes made from organic buckwheat flour, Charlie Brown Crepes has built up a dedicated following. The good news is that while Charlie has had to head back to France, new (also French) manager Adrien Paoli has taken over, ensuring the mouthwatering morsels on the mountain keep on coming. The winter specials: A chestnut spread crepe topped with whipped cream and Raclette, and Tartiflette galettes made with French mountain cheeses, potatoes, onions and bacon.
Happy Days at Happy Valley
Happy Valley is a popular place for families to come for their first snow experience, whether that’s learning to ski with the snow school or ripping down the slope on a sled. The exciting news is that Mt Ruapehu can now guarantee great snow conditions and big smiles over a longer season, regardless of weather, thanks to a $NZ4 million ($A3.8 million) investment in new snow-making technology at Happy Valley, Whakapapa and Turoa.
Queenstown Winter Festival June 22-25, 2017
Winter gets under way with a bang in Queenstown on the South Island, with a four-day festival of fireworks, street parties, music, comedy, apres-ski dining, mountain events, family fun and a touch of madness. The southern hemisphere’s most legendary winter festival gets bigger, better and more outrageous every year.