Skiing our nearest neighbour offers families a lot of possibilities for fun. Spectacular scenery, a great range of accommodation and a variety of ski resorts await you. Bronwen Gora takes a tour around the resorts.
… is a 20 minute drive from Queenstown making it the most accessible resort in NZ from a major town.
Children under 6? They‘ll ski free here. The entire face of Coronet Peak changed when the huge new base lodge was built a few years ago. In place of the old dark, cramped eatery is New Zealand's newest and most modern ski field base lodge facility, a bright sunny two level restaurant/cafe with large picture windows from where mum and dad can easily watch the kids on the major slopes. Management even thought to heat the floor of the outdoor deck to avoid slipping on ice and snow in ski boots.
In fact it’s all about feasting at Coronet Peak at the moment. A first for the resort is its European BBQ at the Greengates Ice Bar on the slopes, offering locally made bratwursts and chorizo. Mum and dad can wash it down with a glass of the locally made Amisfield Pinot Noir mulled wine. Another culinary upgrade has taken place at Heidi’s Hut at the base of the Rocky Gully T-bar where there’s a brand new menu. Book for tables inside by the fire. It’s also a great place to watch international racers training on the slopes above.
…is a 40 minute drive from Queenstown on an unsealed mountain road, but you can take the coach if you’re not keen on tackling the road.
The Remarkables is totally geared towards families. Children 10 years and under ski for free, the snow tubing park has been moved to a more accessible place making it the best in NZ, the three large terrain parks are graded easy to advanced meaning improving and progressing is very straight-forward, and trail widening and improvements means they’re more user-friendly this year. A great place to re-fuel with the kids is the new Ice Bar where the chefs will be serving fresh bacon buns along with other snacks.
For both skiers and boarders there are new Burton freestyle camps aimed at intermediates and above who want to brush up on terrain park technique. They’re all-inclusive, with transport, breakfast and lunch, morning and afternoon sessions, and a downtown after party to wrap it all up. Dates are August 3 and September 7.
…lies on the eastern side of the South Island, an hour from Christchurch Airport and 35 min from the town of Methven.
The mountain is a terrific family area, being a big bowl with blue runs accessible right from the top of the six-seat Summit Chair as well as the blacks and infamous double blacks of the super steep South Face.
Mt Hutt and its feeder town, Methven, have gone one step further than all the other resorts this year by joining forces. To accompany The Remarkables’ deal that every child 10 and under skies free, almost every lodge in Methven is offering free accommodation for under 10s with a paying adult, plus free ski and board hire at selected shops, free meals at certain restaurants and free shuttle travel form the airport to the ski field. The Kids 4 Free deals can be booked online or through an agent.
… is only a 35 minute drive from the lakeside town of Wanaka, which is also the nearest airport, and almost one hour from Queenstown.
Cardrona has long had a reputation as the best place for parents of very young children as it has the most comprehensive on-mountain fully licensed early child care centre for kids aged from three months to four years of age. (Most other resorts only offer crèches for children aged two and up). There is also a raft of age-based day-long and multi-day learning programs for children. The crew at Cardrona are family experts.
… about 35 minutes from Wanaka. The last part of the journey is up a very steep and winding seven kilometre unsealed road.
Treble Cone was once known as a skiers’ mountain with a rugged mountain vibe but things have changed in recent years and the resort now caters for families much better. If you family loves powder snow and big mountain skiing as well as jaw dropping views, bring them here. The biggest resort on the South Island offers terrific terrain full of natural half pipes, great off piste and long top to bottom cruising on groomed intermediate runs. In short, something for everyone. It also has a reputation for the best cafe and food (and proper coffee) in the NZ ski fields, with all meals baked on the premises. There is free lift access to the beginner surface lifts which are located right next to the base lodge. The family lift pass offers savings for families as well.