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There’s nothing like landing at Queenstown airport for the first time. Approaching the ski town generally happens from the North and looking out the window will have you face-to-face with something you generally don’t want to see within reach of your airplane window - a mountain. Even landing at night can be something special - and maybe less nerve-wracking for the nervous fliers on board - because the tops of the mountains are often lit up, like luminescent frosting, with ski resorts sprinkled with night-time skiers.

While Queenstown, and the wider Otago region, isn’t New Zealand’s only ski destination, it is definitely it’s most popular. Once the first real snow of winter hits the ground, snow bunnies flock from all over to ascend up dusty access roads to untouched white fields. Queenstown is a worthy ski spot to inspire international travelers. Sure, it doesn’t have the overwhelming popularity of Whistler or the atmosphere of Switzerland, but its stunning scenery, happy-go-lucky New Zealand spirit, and the opportunity to combine a morning in the snow with an afternoon throwing oneself off a bridge by bungee jumping, make it very worthwhile.

Snow covered mountains

Skiers looking to hit the slopes on the South Island generally base themselves either in Queenstown or Wanaka. Choosing which place to stay is a matter of personal preference. Consider Queenstown the flashy, confident big brother to Wanaka. Looking for a quiet and more subdued après-ski scene? Then Wanaka might be your best choice. Both locations have buses to the ski fields, shops to rent gear, and of course, good coffee.

There are four ski fields in the Otago region. Most people will choose to visit one or two on their trip and everyone has a favorite.

blue sky above snow covered mountains

Image from Flickr user: Comunicosmos 


A firm favorite amongst the locals, Cardrona is situated halfway between Queenstown and Wanaka and buses run from both spots. Cardona has impressive beginner infrastructure, with a nice wide nursery slope and plenty of instructors to help you up when you eat snow. Beginners will also be happy with the easy slopes - the main beginner’s run has spectacular views down the Crown Range. For more advanced skiers, the mountain has plenty of intermediate and advanced runs too and if you’re into flips and tricks, Cardrona has a halfpipe of dreams.

The remarkables

Image from Flickr User: Bernard Spragg

Coronet Peak & The Remarkables

Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are both part of the NZ ski group and you can buy a pass that allows you to ski at both. Both the ski fields are an easy drive from Queenstown and there are regular buses that run from the center of town. Suited to both beginners and advanced skiers, if you’re looking for a fuss-free ski holiday, these two fields might be your best option. Coronet Peak also opens at night on Friday and Saturday, so head there if you’re looking for a night time ski followed by a nice, warming nightcap.

 Image from Flickr user: Jo Munday

Treble Cone

The long access road to Treble Cone might feel like you’re heading into the clouds, but on a clear day, the view is something else. Ultra-modern facilities with a sleek cafe, a musician that serenades you at the end of the day, and a flock of cheeky Kea birds to keep you on your toes, Treble Cone is another firm favorite. Inspiring the kind of following usually reserved for football teams and rock bands, skiers who love Treble Cone really love Treble Cone. Not as suited to beginners as the other fields - most of the runs are intermediate and above - if you’re a confident skier who is a sucker for a good view, Treble Cone might be the one for you. Much closer to Wanaka than Queenstown, you’re best situating yourself in Wanaka if Treble Cone is your choice.

If you’re planning a ski holiday to New Zealand, don’t forget your insurance. Accidents happen and being able to ski with the peace of mind that you’ll be covered is worth every penny. Happy Skiing!


Limits, exclusions and conditions apply. This is general advice only. We do not provide any advice based on any consideration of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Consider the Combined PDS/FSG (available covermore.com) before deciding about this insurance.