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Image credit: Cardrona Alpine Resort

A snow stay on Cardrona

Helen Hayes shares how families can stay on or off the snow in spectacular Queenstown.

On previous Queenstown ski trips with the family, weíve stayed in town to take advantage of the restaurants, shops and those views over mirror-perfect Lake Wakatipu. This time, we spent some time on the snow, staying on the slopes of Cardrona.
This big and beautiful resort has something that the others donítÖ accommodation. There are 15 apartments located upstairs in the main building, with three studios (sleeping two to four), five two-bedroom apartments (sleeping four to six), four three-bedroom loft apartments (sleeping eight), three three-bedroom apartments (sleeping six to eight) and one four-bedroom apartment that can sleep up to ten Ė perfect for two families or for an intergenerational holiday.
We are in a three-bedroom apartment and there is more than enough space for my husband and I and our two gangly young men. We are up one end and they are up the other, separated by a large open-plan kitchen, dining and living area. The boys are thrilled to see the TV and even happier when they learn it has SKY channels. I am happy there are two bathrooms, a dishwasher and a washer/dryer, meaning I can wash as we go and not go home with enough washing to bury me for a week.
The kitchen is well equipped and we could have filled the cupboards by visiting a supermarket in Queenstown before we came, or by availing ourselves of Cardronaís grocery service, but we didnít. Mezz Cafť is open for overnight guests with a good menu and a decent wine list. Itís also open for breakfast so we can fuel up before we amble to the chairlift Ė fresh as daisies and without having to do the hourís drive from Queenstown or the 45-minute drive from Wanaka. That means more time on the mountain for us as well as the convenience of having our apartment right there, which is also great for families with young ones who might need a break during the day.
As for the skiing and snowboarding, Cardrona doesnít disappoint. It has big, wide runs, world-class terrain parks, the Arcadia Chutes and, our favourite, Captainís Basin area, ensuring hours upon hours of fun for all. We particularly like Tail Race down to the Valley View chairlift, new since we were here last. The added chairlift means you can do a fairly long run down from the top of Whitestar Express to Valley View, which we do a few times until our legs give out, the sun starts to drop low in the sky and our apartment beckons. We feel happy as larks that we donít have to pack the car then drive back to town, and have a drink at Mezz instead, watching some kids go for a toboggan on the empty hills.

Treble Cone
When we leave Cardronaís long, winding driveway we head up to Treble Cone, which is a vibrant mountain with almost cult status. The boys have great memories of a half-day private lesson here which really gave them the confidence to tackle black runs and chutes. We head up the chair in Home Basin and go straight to the Saddle, which is a veritable playground for intermediates and advanced skiers and riders. We spend hours on Raffills Run, Bullet, Shooter and Cloud 9 while the boys tackle the Motatapu Chutes and other hair-raising runs. We donít want to leave the Saddle but the boys are hungry so we head back to Home Basin to refuel, however, this season a new cafť is opening at the top of Home Basin with easy access to the Saddle.

Image credit: Cardrona Alpine Resort

The Remarkables
Now we are back in Queenstown, we spend a day each revisiting The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. We enjoy the drive up to The Remarkables and canít wait to try the new Curvey Basin chairlift Ė part of a major investment in this popular ski field. We dig out our mypasses, which we reloaded before we left home, and as we have our gear already, itís straight onto Curvey. This chair links up with the Sugar Bowl chair, and thatís where we lose the boys as they disappear into The Stash terrain park. We hang out around Shadow Basin for a while, then make the trek up to see the unbelievable view from the Lookout. Itís hard work but worth it. This season The Remarkables will have a brand-new base building which will streamline all its services and facilities, and itís also continuing to let kids six and under ski for free.

Coronet Peak
The closest ski resort to Queenstown, Coronet is just a 20-minute drive on a sealed road. Although I was a bit sore and sorry after a stack at The Remarks the previous day (the patrollers and medical staff did a great job looking after me), I wasnít going to miss exploring Coronet on a bluebird day. We revisited some of our favourite runs before signing up for a free mountain tour, available every day for intermediate skiers. We explore most of the runs around the Coronet Express and Greengates Express chairs, finding some runs we hadnít tried before. Afterwards, we played around Rocky Gully, stopping off at Heidiís Hut for lunch. Coronet offers First Tracks and has night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays Ė a great night out for all the family.

New Zealand

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Getting there
Qantas and Air New Zealand both fly direct to Queenstown.

In Queenstown, The Rees has exceptional apartments for families and sublime views over Lake Wakitipu.

Image credit: Cardrona Alpine Resort

Image credit: Cardrona Alpine Resort

Image credit: Cardrona Alpine Resort

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