All you need to know for your Queenstown or Wanaka snow vacation with the kids!
With more mountains than Switzerland, more than 25 scenic ski areas and lots of perfect, crisp, blue-sky days, New Zealand has the best ski and snowboard areas in the Southern Hemisphere.
Base yourself in Queenstown or Wanaka and you'll be as little as half an hour's drive from five fantastic ski areas, with tons of snow to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, toboggan, tube and play in.
If your snow vacation includes the kids, you can find everything independently or book a ski or snow holiday package. A snow holiday package can include flights, car rental or mountain transport, pants or gear hire, ski or snowboard lessons, lift passes and more. The New Zealand ski season runs from late June to late September, although the snow areas of New Zealand do not open or close at the same time; it depends on the season and weather. Click on the individual ski field's website to find out their expected open and close date for the next snow season.
Cardrona Alpine Resort
How far is Cardrona Alpine Resort from Queenstown and Wanaka?
58km / 60 mins from Queenstown or 34km / 35 mins from Wanaka
Cardrona is the largest ski area easily accessed from both Queenstown and Wanaka, and is New Zealand’s favourite family mountain! Kids love Cardrona, thanks to its crazy colourful base area, children’s programmes and mellow groomed runs. Cardrona is the perfect place for beginners and intermediates, with easy-to-use surface lifts, specialised beginner packages and plenty of wide open trails spread over three basins. Skiers and boarders of all ages and abilities will love the variety of exciting terrain, pristine groomers and world-class parks and pipes.Cardrona Early Childhood Centre and Ski School have options on and off the snow for kids from 3 months to early teens, offering care, activities, lessons and FUN in flexible full-day, half-day and multi-day options. Shorter lessons are available for families who'd like to spend more time skiing together.
Access: CARDRONA The Crown Range is the shortest route between Queenstown and Wanaka, but the winding road requires great care in snow or icy conditions. It is sealed but very twisty and steep in parts. The 10km Cardrona ski field access road is unsealed. You may be able to park close to base if you arrive early. Otherwise courtesy car park shuttles run throughout the day.
18km / 25 mins from Queenstown or 80km / 75 mins from Wanaka
Coronet Peak is the South Island’s most popular mountain resort. There’s heaps of fun for kids, from the state-of-the-art Skiwiland Crèche to the beginner slopes with handle tow and twin conveyor lifts, plus fantastic off-piste for the more intrepid! If you’ve never skied after sundown don’t miss Night Skiing, exclusive to Coronet Peak, Fridays and Saturdays from 4pm (July to mid Sept.). Kids 6 years and under receive free day passes.
Access: CORONET PEAK The closest ski field to Queenstown, the start of the access road is an easy 10 minutes drive from town centre. It's 9km of good, sealed road. Car parks fill up quickly so be prepared for a 5-10 minute walk or catch the regular courtesy car park shuttle.
28km / 45 mins from Queenstown or 83km / 90 mins from Wanaka
Known for its friendly atmosphere and relaxed feel this is a great family field – a fantastic sun trap with a large, wide, gentle beginner areas. The Remarkables offers lots for intermediates plus incredible off-piste powder runs. Kids 7 years and under receive free day passes. Great deals on family passes available.
Access: REMARKABLES The access road is 20 minutes drive from Queenstown or 10 minutes from Frankton. It's 13km with the first 8km sealed and the rest unsealed. Parking generally very close to base building.
58km / 60 mins from Queenstown or 34km / 35 mins from Wanaka
Experience New Zealand's only cross-country ski area. A perfect family activity and it doesn’t matter if you’re all new to it! Slip into the skinny skis and choose your route from up to 55kms of trails. Children will love it too! FOR THE KIDS – Tubing and Sledding. We have sleds and tubes available for hire with protective headwear. Baby Sleds are also available for parents who want to take baby skiing with them (this also adds to the exercise!)
A café/restaurant is onsite, with comfy seating and a great viewing area so in- or outdoors, spend a family day at Snow Farm!
Access: SNOW FARM Take the Crown Range road to the Cardrona Valley. If you're coming from Queenstown, the sealed road is twisty and steep but well-maintained. The access road is 13km, well-graded but unsealed.
With the exception of Coronet Peak and two thirds of The Remarkables the ski field access roads are unsealed. If you're not comfortable with fitting chains or mountain driving in snow or icy conditions, you'll be far better off letting someone else drive you to the ski slopes. If you're driving always remember to drive to the conditions, carry warm clothing, food, water, blankets, chains, a shovel, first aid kit and keep your petrol tank full.
There are snow shuttle buses that will take you from Queenstown to Coronet Peak and The Remarkables and these stop at most hotels and close to most accommodation. However if you're organising a whole family you might find it easier to travel at your leisure with a smaller service.
If you don't ski at home you may not have all the warm ski clothing required to go skiing. The right gear is important for everyone but especially for the kids - if they're cold they won't enjoy their day and will think they hate skiing! Luckily both children and adults can easily hire ski clothing in Queenstown and Wanaka. You can get ski clothing when you arrive or book it online before you get here. Either way, it's cheaper to book ski clothing for a few days. Items for hire are ski pants, ski jackets and ski suits, and wrist guards, helmets, goggles and gloves may also be available. Note: most shops include free wrist guards with your ski clothing hire. Often goggles and gloves are not rented out for hygiene reasons, but these are cheap to purchase. Kidz Go recommends some family-friendly hire shops in Queenstown and Wanaka, and these also rent skis, snowboards and boots.