Ski jackets, clothing and ski equipment are just as essential in southern New Zealand's winter month's as they are in the Alps of Austria or Switzerland... The region is home to ski resorts that boast some of the best skiing in the southern hemisphere. For anyone who thought New Zealand's only sports were Rugby and Cricket, or that their mountains were just famous for playing Middle-earth in the Lord of the Rings movies - think again! Here's our overview of one of NZ's best skiing locations: Coronet Peak.
Located on New Zealand's South Island, Coronet Peak is one of the country's most popular skiing resorts. The resort sits just 18km from Queenstown, a 12,000 permanent resident-strong town with it's own airport and plenty of accommodation, which makes it easily accessible to visitors basing themselves there. Coronet Peak is renowned for its long ski season, which typically runs from June to October, with over snow-making capabilities that ensure that the season does not disappoint.
The skiing terrain at Coronet Peak has plenty to offer skiers at all levels, with one third of its slopes best suited to advanced skiers, 25% suitable for beginners, and 45% best suited for intermediate skiers. The resort boasts a highly effective lift structure, enabling it to cope very well during the busiest periods of the season. Coronet Peak's terrain is largely treeless, which can effect visibility on days with bad weather, though it does ensure that the ski field is fully exposed to the elements. The resort boasts the longest opening hours in New Zealand, with one of its most popular attractions being illuminated night skiing until 9pm on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Coronet Peak's most popular runs include the beginners slope the 'Big Easy', intermediate slopes 'Greengates' and 'Shirtfront', and the advanced level slopes 'Exchange Drop' and the 'Back Bowls'. In addition to some excellent skiing, the view from the ski field across to the nearby Lake Wakatipu & Lake Hayes are regarded by many as some of the most spectacular in New Zealand - a country with no shortage of breathtaking views!
While Coronet Peak does not have a great deal of on peak accommodation, the majority of skiers opt to stay in Queenstown, given its close proximity to the ski resort. From Queenstown, Coronet Peak is very easily reached via a fully sealed road, making it a convenient location for drivers staying in the town, or for those opting to use one of the many shuttle services that are available. Queenstown boasts plenty of hotel accommodation, as well as more than enough bars, cafes and restaurants to ensure that there is plenty happening there during the evening during the ski season.
Internationally twinned with Aspen, Queenstown is seen by many as the ski capital of New Zealand. Aside from the skiing, a stay in Queenstown gives visitors a great opportunity to enjoy some of the breathtaking scenery of Otago. Other activities on offer in the region include jet-boating, bungee-jumping, sky diving and white-water rafting, so there is plenty to do when taking a break from the ski slopes.