When and where to go on a snow trip to Queenstown

Every winter, hordes of skiers and snowboarders converge on Queenstown and neighbouring Wanaka for their snow trips.

There's plenty of variety and something for everyone, across the various ski resorts and mountains.

Where to go if you're just learning to ski or snowboard?

Beginners, rest easy - none of these resorts will leave you out in the cold if you want to get carving. 

Coronet Peak, the Remarkables and Cardrona all offer various lesson options including group or private classes, catering for all skill levels.

For people with little ones, Coronet Peak and Cardrona also offer kids' packages for ages three months up to 17 years old, with different learning experiences for the different ages and fully-licensed early childcare centres.

Where to go for night owl skiers/snowboarders?

The early bird catches the worm, but first tracks on a skifield aren't for everyone. For those who prefer sleeping in and cruising a bit later in the day, it's worth checking out Coronet Peak.

Night Ski at Coronet Peak skifield, with a dark sky and lights dotted along the trail.
Night Ski at Coronet Peak is great for those who like a sleep-in. Photo credit: Newshub.

Coronet runs a Night Ski option when the ski season is at its busiest, opening its main Coronet Express lift to the summit as well as the beginner's Meadows Express.

For those who have never tried it, Night Skis are something else. You can catch the dying sun and there's plenty of variety for beginners through to advanced snow bunnies.

It usually runs every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night until the end of August but check ahead on the website to be sure.

Where to go if you want to practice tricks?

A skier does a trick off a tall jump on a blue-sky day at Cardrona ski field.
You'll be in good company at Cardrona's terrain parks. Photo credit: Getty

Cardrona has seven terrain parks with another still under construction, so it's a good option if you want to practice your flips and tricks.

You'll be in good company - New Zealand's first national snowboarding championships were held at Cardrona back in 1988, with several of New Zealand's modern champions choosing to train there today.

Where to go for some solid black runs?

Not everyone wants to sit back and enjoy an easy run. For those more advanced, there are a couple of options.

Coronet Peak and Cardrona both have a healthy number of expert trails, but the biggest variety is at the Remarkables.

Remarkables skifield on a sunny day.
Looking out at the Remarkables skifield from the top of the Alta chairlift. Photo credit: Newshub.

As with any trail, check in with the weather forecast before you go to make sure there's enough snow to blast through.

Where to go if you just want a cruisey sight-see?

McDougall's Chondola at Cardrona - a gondola/chair-lift cross - can take you all the way up and then back down again, if you're not too confident in your abilities.

Otherwise, there are two easy greens which will bring you back to their base area, with one path overlooking Queenstown.

Where to go for a late spring ski?

Finally, here are your options if you're reading this article at the very end of the season.

New Zealand's ski season can be unreliable at times and this year has been an excellent example of that.

The Queenstown/Wanaka season usually runs from early/mid-June until early October, so long as the weather plays along.

At the moment Cardrona is estimated to have the longest season, expected to stay open until October 20 - just don't expect the snow to be at its best as spring drags on.

A woman standing in front of the Cardrona logo on a white-out day.
Even if the weather isn't the best, there's still fun to be had up the mountain. Photo credit: Newshub

The Remarkables follow with an estimated closing date of October 13, while Coronet Peak is estimated to close on September 29.

What's the best place to ski/snowboard in Queenstown overall?

There's no one easy answer to this question. Each of the core ski fields has its own pros and cons and when it comes down to it, most people will find they'll enjoy themselves at any one of them.

Just keep an eye on the snow forecast and consider what you're looking for, to make sure you get the best snow trip you can hope for.