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Where to go Skiing in Wanaka – Comparing Wanaka’s Ski Fields

Where to go Skiing in Wanaka – Comparing Wanaka’s Ski Fields

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Curious about skiing in Wanaka, but don’t know where to start? I’ve got you covered!

Come wintertime, Wanaka transforms into an incredible skiing destination, and living just around the corner in Queenstown, I find myself visiting a lot during the winter months. After all, there’s just so much adventure to be had when you have four slopes to choose from!

But there’s also lots to know about skiing in Wanaka. From choosing the right ski fields to deciding where to stay, to knowing what it all costs – there’s a ton of info you should be armed with before arriving.

I’ve written this blog to give you all this info, plus a few extra tidbits! So, let’s dive in and explore the different skiing options here in Wanaka.

Skiing in Wanaka FAQs

Skiing at Cardrona Ski Field near Queenstown
I’m not the best, but I do alright!

Did You Know – Kiwis say “ski fields”, whereas Americans typically say “ski resorts”!

Best Time to Go Skiing in Wanaka/The Weather

A view of the town of Wanaka, New Zealand
Wanaka is beautiful, especially in the winter!

The best time to go skiing in Wanaka is during the peak of the winter months of July and August. During these months, you’ll find the most snow at the ski fields near Wanaka, plus the temperatures are the coldest, making for the best powder days!

Temperatures during the winter months in Wanaka range from -1.2 °C (29.8 °F) to 8.4 °C (47.1 °F). At the ski field, temperatures are much cooler and skiers should expect daytime temperatures from -11 °C (12.2 °F) to -4 °C (24.8 °F). With that said, you can get days above 0 °C (32 °F), which makes for awesome spring skiing conditions!

Annual snowfall at Wanaka ski fields is around the 2.9 m (9.5 foot) mark, which is not a lot when compared to other places around the world. But, the fields here have excellent snow-making capabilities, meaning you’ll always have decent conditions during ski season. On fresh powder days, you can expect anywhere from 5 cm (2 in) to 20 cm (8in) of snow.

The ski fields here are typically open from mid-June to early October. Cardrona is usually one of the last to close, but it does change annually depending on the weather.

Wanaka Ski Fields

There are actually 4 different ski fields within 40 minutes from Wanaka town: Cardrona Alpine Resort, Treble Cone, the Snow Farm, and Soho Basin. Another two ski fields are located closer to Queenstown, just over an hour’s drive away: Coronet Peak, and The Remarkables. These 6 ski fields are the most accessible from Wanaka and easily reached on a day trip.

Below, I’ve included specific info on each ski field. You’ll find info on how to reach each ski field from Wanaka, the prices for lift tickets, features of the ski field, and more!

Cardrona Alpine Resort

Cardrona ski Resort as seen from one of the ski runs
Cardrona is a big ski resort with lots of runs and jumps!

The Cardrona Alpine Resort is one of the closest ski fields to Wanaka (Treble Cone is just as close). Featuring plenty of groomed runs for all levels, multiple chair lifts, and quite a few different restaurants and bars, Cardrona is easily the most popular place to go skiing in Wanaka. Honestly, if you’re looking for a fun day out on the slopes, Cardrona is an easy choice.

Getting from Wanaka to Cardrona

Cardrona is a 40-minute drive from Wanaka via Cardrona Valley Road and Skifield Road. You can easily rent a car in Wanaka and drive yourself. There is plenty of parking at the top, however you will have to drive the final 14 kilometers (8.7 mi) on an unsealed road. You will also need to carry snow chains (and know how to use them) in case the road conditions become poor.

If you’re worried about driving this, you can also park at the bottom at the Pine Trees Carpark and catch one of the shuttles up to the ski field. You can catch shuttles up at 8:30 am, 9:00 am, 9:30 am, and 10:30 am, and catch a shuttle back down at 14:30 pm, 15:30 pm, 16:00 pm, and 16:15 pm.

You can also catch a bus to Cardrona from Wanaka! There are four convenient pick-up points throughout Wanaka, with each having a slightly different pick-up time. The bus runs daily and leaves the final Wanaka pick-up point at 8:00 am, leaving Cardrona later on at 4:30 pm.

This bus operates throughout the entire ski season until October 9th. This bus must be booked in advance, otherwise you do risk missing out. It costs $40 NZD for a return trip per adult and $35 NZD per child.

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, renting a car in New Zealand will likely end up being cheaper than paying for the bus for everybody, plus it’s much more flexible.

Ski passes and prices at Cardrona

Sitting at the top of Cardrona Ski Resort looking out at the views
Skiing is just as much about the views and Cardrona has some of the best!

Cardrona ski passes and prices

  • You can grab a lift pass at $160 NZD per adult for a full day without gear rental and $192 NZD with gear rental
  • A multi-day lift pass is priced from $280 NZD for two days of skiing up to around $700 NZD for 7 days
  • 1-day ski school pass costs $282 NZD for adults, $153 NZD for kids, and includes two 2-hour lessons. You can also upgrade the package to include clothing, helmets, goggles, and gloves for one day for an extra $99 NZD for adults and $75 NZD for kids

Why ski at Cardrona?

A chairlift at Cardrona Ski Resort
Up up we go!

Cardrona typically runs a longer ski season than its competitors in the area, with the 2023 winter season running from June 17 to October 15.

Unlike Treble Cone, it’s the perfect mountain to learn to ski on with a highly-rated ski school. There are also plenty of beginner runs. For the more experienced skiers and snowboarders, there are also terrain parks, half-pipes, and challenging black runs.

In fact, Cardrona delivers the Southern Hemisphere’s most extensive terrain park facilities! The backcountry terrain is great here too for all you expert skiers.

Cardrona is also the best option for kids, with a fully licensed childcare center (for children from three months to five years old) and even a ski school kindergarten.

Cardrona receives 2.7 meters (8.6 feet) of snowfall annually but because it’s south-facing the snow generally stays on the ground longer than other resorts in the area. Like the other ski resorts in and around Wanaka, snow machines are used often.

Offering a whopping 8 food and beverage options, you’re spoiled for choice! You can choose from a pizzeria on Captain’s Basin to a noodle bar on the top floor of the Snow Sports HQ. In the Base building there’s casual dining downstairs, and upstairs is The Mezz which offers table-service dining.

If you want to experience somewhere a little different for lunch or dinner, then head on down to the Cardrona Hotel – the oldest pub in New Zealand. It has an award-winning restaurant situated in a pretty historic building. In fact, this is allegedly the most photographed building in all of New Zealand!

You can book your Cardrona lift pass here!

Treble Cone Ski Area

Treble Cone ski Area
Talk about a ski trip with epic views! Photo credit: Treble Cone Ski Area

Treble Cone is a favorite among locals. With mostly intermediate and advanced runs, Treble Cone is best suited for those with a decent amount of experience. That, combined with its close proximity to Wanaka, makes Treble Cone another great option for skiing in Wanaka.

Getting from Wanaka to Treble Cone

Like most ski fields near Wanaka, you can choose to either drive yourself or take a shuttle bus from Wanaka to Treble Cone Ski Area.

Driving from Wanaka to Treble Cone takes about 40 minutes. The last 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) of the road up to the ski field is unsealed, windy, and somewhat steep. It is required that you carry snow chains to drive this section of the road. If you don’t want to drive this portion of the road, you can catch the free shuttle from the bottom parking lot up to the top instead.

If you want to grab a shuttle bus, the Treble Cone Express departs daily from their office right in Wanaka. Expect to pay $35 NZD for a return trip with discounts available for children. This shuttle arrives and departs based on their daily schedule which you can see here.

Treble Cone ski passes and prices

  • A season pass starts at $1,369 NZD per adult (including Cardrona)
  • You can get a lift pass for $160 NZD per adult for a full day without gear and $192 NZD with rental gear
  • A multi-day Ski pass is priced from $280 NZD for two days of skiing up to $500 NZD for 5 days
  • A 2-hour private lesson costs $320 NZD, a half-day (3 hours) costs $480 NZD, and a full-day (6 hours) costs $799 NZD for adults. You will need to inquire about pricing on group lessons

Why ski at Treble Cone?

A snowboarder on a ski field in new zealand
Snowboarding is fun too…or so I’ve heard (I’m a skier!)

Calling all intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders – Treble Cone is the ski field for you! With 45% intermediate runs and the other 45% being advanced, Treble Cone is best suited to those with experience. In all honesty, if you’re a beginner, then I would probably hit up Cardrona instead.

Treble Cone has a few claims to fame, including having the largest ski area in all of New Zealand – a whopping 500 hectares (1,235 acres)! It also has the biggest vertical drop at 700 meters (2,297 feet), and the longest run at Treble Cone is 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) in length. Treble Cone is also known for its many off-piste runs and incredible panoramic views.

At Treble Cone you’ll find a restaurant and bar offering both hot food and drink options. There is also a grab-and-go bar for takeaway items such as sandwiches. The Altitude Bar is open from 10:30 am to 3 pm and is located up on the mountain, serving drinks as well as hot and cold food options. The views from here are seriously impressive!

You can book your Treble Cone lift pass here!

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Snow Farm

Cross country skiing
I much prefer downhill skiing, but cross-country is a great workout!

The Snow Farm is a fantastic ski area for those who want to cross-country ski! That’s right, there’s no downhill skiing here, but lots and lots of cross-country ski trails as well as snowshoeing. You’ll also find a designated “Fun Zone” where you can play in the snow. Make snowmen, throw snowballs, and even go snow-tubing!

If you’re looking to go downhill skiing or snowboarding, then you’ll need to head to either Cardrona or Treble Cone.

Getting from Wanaka to the Snow Farm

Most people drive themselves to the Snow Farm, as it’s a fairly easy 40-minute drive from Wanaka. Head along Cardrona Valley Road and then turn left about 200 meters (656 feet) after the Cardrona Alpine Resort exit.

Although this portion of the road is unsealed, the drive is pretty easy and suitable for 2wd drive vehicles. That said, you’ll need to carry snow chains with you in case bad conditions occur.

If you do need transport, Yello Shuttle Service operates on this route on occasion (depending on demand).

The Snow Farm ski passes and prices

  • An early bird season pass is $149 NZD, or $309 NZD with rentals included. This increases if you purchase during the ski season
  • There are also various rates for lessons (both private and group), with a 1-hour beginner lesson starting at just $45 NZD

The Snow Farm is also about more than just cross-country skiing! They have other activities including tubing and snowshoeing, and you can get entrance to their Snow Fun Zone for just $20 NZD per person.

Why ski at the Snow Farm?

The Snow Farm is the place to go if you want to go cross-country skiing or want to get away from more crowded ski spots like Cardrona. Cross-country skiing is a great fitness activity that’ll have you exploring the Pisa Conservation Area in the snow.

It’s a fun alternative to hiking and is easy enough for people to get the hang of even on their first try! It’s also suitable for the whole family – even your dog is allowed to come along.

Related Read: After a long day hitting the slopes, you’re sure to be hungry! Check out some of the best restaurants that Wanaka has to offer.

Soho Basin

soho-basin-wanaka-ski-field
No chairlifts here, the snowcat takes you up for some epic backcountry skiing near Wanaka! Photo credit: Soho Basin

Soho Basin is home to over 1000 hectares (almost 2,500 acres) of backcountry runs. You won’t find chairlifts or a bunny hill here, the only way up is by snowcat! In a snowcat with a small group, you’ll be transported to some of the most remote backcountry runs in all of New Zealand. Think of this experience like heli-skiing, except with a snowcat instead of a chopper.

Sounds amazing, right?

Well, an experience like this doesn’t come cheap. It’s expensive, so expensive that I’ve not been able to experience it myself (my blogger salary just isn’t that flashy). In fact, they don’t even advertise their full price list and instead, you must contact them for more information.

What I do know is that a full-day experience starts at around $1,750 NZD per person. You’d definitely need to be a keen skier to opt for this Wanaka skiing experience, that much is for sure!

With that being said, Soho Basin is located right next to Cardrona and their base is actually just off the access road. So, I couldn’t leave this one out of this list.

Plus, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience! If you’ve got the cash, why wouldn’t you try it?!

Coronet Peak

Coronet Peak Ski resort chairlift the Coronet Express
Coronet Peak!

Coronet Peak is just over an hour’s drive from Wanaka located fairly close to Queenstown. It isn’t known as one of the very best ski fields in the area simply because of its lower elevation and less snow. With that said, there are some neat activities offered at Coronet Peak that make it worthy of the journey from Wanaka, such as night skiing!

Getting from Wanaka to Coronet Peak

To get to Coronet Peak from Wanaka you’ll first drive to Arthurs Point, which is best done through Arrowtown. The entire trip takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes, and the road to the top is completely sealed, which is very rare for New Zealand!

There is no shuttle bus from Wanaka to Coronet Peak. Your best bet is to drive yourself or drive to Queenstown and take the Queenstown shuttle from there.

Coronet Peak ski passes and prices

  • A 3 peak season pass includes 3 mountains – The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and Mt Hutt, starting at $1,045 NZD per adult
  • A lift pass includes Coronet, Remarkables, and Mt Hutt is priced at $159 NZD for an adult (aged 18 and over) for one day. If you want to ski for two days, it’s priced at $139 NZD per day and for three days it costs $129 NZD per day
  • A night ski pass is priced at $79 NZD. Night skiing is available between 4 pm to 9 pm on Wednesdays and Fridays from late June to the 1st of September with Saturday Night Ski on the three school holidays in July
  • A twilight pass (valid from 12:30 pm to 9 pm on Wednesday, Friday, and some Saturday nights) is priced at $159 NZD per adult
  • If you’re an early bird, you can also purchase a first tracks season pass which can be added on to a lift pass or season pass. This gives you an extra hour of skiing (from 8 am to 4 pm)!
  • The learner area pass is priced at $89 NZD per adult, which gives you access to the beginner surface lifts at The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and Mt Hutt

Why ski at Coronet Peak?

Falling over at Coronet Peak Ski Resort
Skiing isn’t always smooth sailing! After a hard fall, it can be daunting to get back on your skis.

One thing that makes skiing at Coronet Peak unique is that you can go night skiing on Wednesday, Friday, and certain Saturday nights! This event starts at 4 pm and finishes at 9 pm. Night skiing is a very cool and unique experience and is an event that attracts lots of friendly locals.

There are wide floodlight-lit trails, a heated outdoor deck to enjoy a cozy après-ski, and even live DJs. Night skiing at Coronet Peak is definitely one of the best things to do in winter!

Some finer details for Coronet Peak include that it has 280 hectares (691 acres) of skiable terrain and 462 meters (1,516 feet) of vertical drop. That said, there’s not much opportunity for backcountry skiing here. The runs are mostly open (no trees) which is great on a sunny day, but it means there’s less visibility on cloudy days.

There’s a varied selection of dining options on Coronet Peak with 3 restaurants in the base building and a stunning mountain restaurant called Heidi’s Hut, over at Rocky Gully.

Unfortunately, Coronet Peak doesn’t receive a lot of snowfall (just 2 meters or 6.5 feet annually), which is due to its relatively low elevation. That said, the snow guns are working regularly though to ensure good ski conditions!

The Remarkables

The Remarkables Ski Resort from the bottom of the mountain looking up the curvy basin chairlift
I love bluebird days at The Remarkables!

Open for the 2024 ski season from the 15th of June to the 13th of October, The Remarkables is one of my personal favorite ski fields in New Zealand and one of the best spots for skiing near Queenstown. It’s only about a 40-minute drive from Queenstown center!

With that said, it is totally possible to visit The Remarkables from Wanaka too, just be prepared for a 1 hour and 40-minute drive each way.

Getting from Wanaka to The Remarkables

To get to The Remarkables from Wanaka, you’ll need to drive the very scenic road from Wanaka to Queenstown, making your way towards the airport.

From Frankton Road, turn right onto State Highway 6 and The Remarkables is very well signposted from here. The road up to the top is steep and windy and is for the most part a gravel road, so caution is needed and, of course, drive slowly. It’s also required that you always carry snow chains for your safety!

There are a few parking lots at the top as well as lower parking lots that you need to catch a bus from. The earlier you arrive, the more likely you are to get one of the top spots. Don’t worry though, the bus is free and runs regularly.

There is no regular bus service from Wanaka to The Remarkables, so you’ll have to drive yourself or organize a private transfer.

The Remarkables ski passes and prices

  • A lift pass is priced at $159 NZD for an adult (aged 18 and over) for one day. If you want to ski for two days it’s priced at $139 NZD per day and for three days, $129 NZD per day. For 2023, all adult, child, and senior full-day lift passes are ‘superpasses’. A superpass gives you access to ski at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, and Mt Hutt ski areas!
  • A 3 peak season pass (includes The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and Mt Hutt) is priced from $1,045 NZD
  • A learner area pass is priced at $89 NZD it includes access to the beginner surface lifts at Coronet Peak or The Remarkables

Why ski at The Remarkables

Climbing high at The Remarkables Ski Field
The best runs require a little more effort than the chairlift!

As I mentioned earlier, “Remarks” as it’s locally known, is my favorite ski field near Wanaka and Queenstown. It’s a very popular choice with locals because it tends to be quieter than Coronet Peak but has better conditions. It also has an excellent learning area if you’re not so confident in the snow, and really smooth green runs.

There are 385 hectares (951 acres) of terrain here and a 468-meter (1,535-foot) vertical drop. The trail stats are as follows: 30% beginner, 40% intermediate, and 30% black. The sunny north-facing terrain means that on those bluebird days there’s simply no better place to be.

The jump park is one of the best with a great learner, intermediate, and expert area. If you love getting off the groomed trails, the backcountry runs here are fantastic too.

Conveniently too, there’s a restaurant and café as well as two bars. In fact, it’s probably got one of the largest restaurant areas, with soaring glass walls and incredible views. The outdoor decks have gorgeous views too of the surrounding snow-capped peaks.

With that said, it isn’t the most convenient location from Wanaka. With nearly a 2-hour drive each day, I’d say it is slightly out of reach when it comes to being an accessible ski field in Wanaka. If you want to visit Remarks, then I’d recommend finding a place to stay in Queenstown for at least one night.

Related Read: During the summer in Queenstown you can still visit The Remarkables and hike one of the best trails in QueenstownLake Alta Track!

Other Things to do in Wanaka

The view from Mt Iron in Wanaka
The views from Mt Iron!
  • Cardrona Valley Mountain Quad Zip up into the mountains on a quad bike! This tour makes sightseeing a little bit more thrilling as you’ll follow your guide through winding dirt tracks past lush farmland. Look to spot sheep and cattle and learn from your local guide about the area! You’ll stop to take in the panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains of the Cardrona Valley. It’s only a 2-hour tour, so you will still have a lot of time for other activities.
  • Wine and Maori Culture Tour – You’ll get to taste wine right from the land of the indigenous Maori people in Wanaka. This tour is a half-day experience that includes round-trip transport so you don’t have to worry about driving! Just focus on the wine and beautiful landscapes as you visit the different wineries and enjoy the provided cheese platter.
  • Horse Riding Trek – This is the perfect leisurely sightseeing activity that takes you up into the countryside and past historical gold-mining locals for some fabulous views and information from your local guide about this area’s past. You’ll navigate through cattle farms and across a river and end the day with a free beer from the Cardrona Pub on the way back to base.
  • Jet Boat, Hike, and Raft AdventureThis is one of the best tours in Wanaka for thrill seekers! It’s a full day of activities including a jet boat and rafting ride on the Matukituki River and a nature trek to take in the beautiful landscapes of Mount Aspiring National Park where you’ll stop for lunch at the base of a glacier! It costs $379 NZD, but it is more cost-effective than booking these activities separately.

Renting a Car, Campervan, or Motorhome in New Zealand

Bailey stands in front of a right green JUCY campervan
JUCY is one of my favorite campervan rental companies (read below for a discount code!)
Bailey stands behind her Mad Campers campervan cooking in the kitchen at Piha Beach
I also really like Mad Campers!

Let’s face it, you’re going to need wheels to get around New Zealand. Although a small country, buses between destinations are infrequent and expensive. Plus, some of the best experiences you can have in NZ are on road trips!

You have three options when it comes to getting wheels in New Zealand; a car, a campervan, or a motorhome. Here’s what you need to know about each and where to get them:

  • Car – A normal car is the cheapest rental vehicle you can get in New Zealand. It’ll get you around to all of the best destinations with ease. The only downside to a car is that you will need to stay in hotels or Airbnbs during your travels (no camping.) The easiest place to rent a car in New Zealand is on Discover Cars where you can compare cars, companies, prices, features, and more very easily.
  • Campervan – A Campervan is a large van that has a bed and a small kitchen in the back. It’s what most budget travelers use for traveling around New Zealand since it allows you to camp comfortably and for free (most) nights. Campervans are best for couples or solo travelers who are happy to live in a small space. You should also love the outdoors and camping…and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime! My favorite campervan rental company is JUCY because they have a huge selection of campervans to choose from, plus multiple pick-up/drop-off locations. You can browse JUCY’s campervan selection online here. Alternatively, you can easily compare all campervans available in NZ on Motorhome Republic here.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT CODE: I’ve managed to snag a discount code for 5% off for my readers if you book your campervan or motorhome through JUCY or Star RV! Simply click here to select your JUCY campervan, or click here to select your Star RV motorhome, and then use the code DTRAVEL24 at checkout to get 5% off – it’s that easy!

Where to Stay in Wanaka

Room at the Archway Motel
One of the single rooms at the Archway Motels & Chalets
Kitchen at the Manuka Crescent Motel in Wanaka
Our room at Archway Motels & Chalets had a full kitchen!

There are tons of places to stay in Wanaka. Seriously, you’ll have so many options that it can be overwhelming. Luckily, I’ve stayed in Wanaka countless times and can recommend the accommodation options below:

Hawea Hotel – $

The Hawea Hotel is the perfect budget option for anybody looking to save a few dollars. That said, the rooms are really comfortable, clean, and offer incredible lake views! It is likely the best value for money hotel in Wanaka, with all rooms including a flat-screen television, a private bathroom, and a balcony too.

A one-night stay here starts from around $180 NZD per night, with budget dorm rooms as well as double rooms and family rooms available. You can check your dates and reserve your room here on Booking.com.

Archway Motel & Chalets – $$

When I travel, I often like to stay in apartment-style hotels so that I can cook my own meals. The Archway Motels & Chalets offers studio apartments, one-bedroom apartments, as well as two and three bedroom apartments for really reasonable prices! These are great for families or people traveling in groups (I stayed here last time I traveled with friends).

The motel is located only a short drive from town in a peaceful area – talk about holiday bliss! Room rates start at around $200 NZD per night, averaging around $350 NZD in the high season. You can check availability and book your stay online on Booking.com here.

Club Wyndham Wanaka – $$$

If you’re visiting Wanaka to relax and spoil yourself, then there’s no question that you should stay at Club Wyndham! This hotel is located right in town only minutes from Lake Wanaka and features an outdoor heated pool, waterslide, hot tub, sauna, and an onsite bar and café.

All rooms here come with a kitchenette or full kitchen, and many also offer lake views. You’ll also have access to their fitness center too if you fancy working up a sweat before hitting the sauna! Rooms here at Club Wyndham start at around $300 NZD and can be booked here on Booking.com.

For more detailed information, check out my blog all about where to stay in Wanaka! It includes different areas to stay in and the best hotels for all budgets!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey from My Queenstown Diary enjoys a beer at the top of the Remarkables Ski Area
Cheers, and thanks for reading!

Wanaka is such a beautiful little town, and with so many ski fields nearby, it’s the perfect place to base yourself for a NZ ski holiday! I hope this blog has helped clarify where to go skiing in Wanaka and answered some of your questions about Wanaka’s ski fields. I’m sure, no matter which ski field you choose, you’re going to have a brilliant time!

For some more info, continue browsing around my blog. I’ve written a ton of long, informative blogs about Wanaka, Queenstown, and even other popular attractions such as Milford Sound! Or you can also have a look at some of my favorite blogs below.

Ben Lomond Track, Queenstown – A Grueling Hike With Epic Views

Queenstown to Dunedin Scenic Drive – The Best Route and Stops

35 EPIC Things to do in Queenstown in Winter