A guide to skiing Coronet Peak
A Guide to Skiing Coronet Peak
Only 20 minutes away from downtown Queenstown, Coronet Peak is an internationally renowned skifield boasting world class facilities and tremendous skiing. In fact, as mad skiers we often say the Coronet Peak is one of the best skifields in the world (if only it was another 1,000 metres longer).
It is pretty hard to miss Coronet Peak - it is the big mountain that kind of looks over the Wakatipu Basin like a majestic guardian. The road up is completely sealed and a relatively easy drive - although winter conditions of snow and ice and a lack of sun on it can make it dicey at times - requiring you to fit chains.
Alternatively take any of the multiple bus options that leave from town to get you whisked up “the hill” in no time. Just ask us at reception for assistance.
Once arriving our advice is park and take the free shuttle. There is a drop-off zone but we think this often resembles a war-zone with cars and kids and gear and madness. It is just as simple to park the car, walk the few metres to the shuttle and relax. The shuttles come through every few minutes so no time is lost.
Whether you have arrived by bus or car you will enter Coronet Peak on to the area they call Main Street - underneath the main building. Here you can instantly find the lift ticket desks, rental area for all your gear, a comprehensive shop for anything you forgot, and the ski school area. There is plenty of seating area to boot up and lockers also to store any day bags you might have.
Once you head upstairs you are immediately at the foot of the ski area. The large main building hosts a cafe at lunch time with snack style food like burgers, pies, hot chips and sandwiches, or there is a restaurant type area on the other side serving excellent - albeit expensive - pizzas and a range of full meals. The barista and bar are right in front of you as you walk in - be warned that between 9:30 and 11am the wait for coffee can be horrendous!
Learners and intermediate skiers turn right
Walking out and looking up at Coronet peak can be pretty intimidating for many first-timers or non-regular skiers. The intermediate to advanced slopes rise straight up above the restaurant area. But relax just a few metres walk to the right is loads of lovely learning areas and gentle slopes that any novice skier can progress on. Start on the magic carpet and progress to the Meadows chairlift to get your confidence.
A word of warning. As you come off the Meadows chairlift and further left is the Rocky Gully t-bar. It looks lovely skiing and so enticing. It is!!! But it is also an area for upper intermediate and advanced skiers. Get your confidence on the Meadows and advance to the main Express lift first before ventured down to tackle the t-bar.
Intermediate and advanced skiers turn left
While your mates go right you turn left if you are a solid intermediate to advanced skier. The most obvious Express chairlift will whisk you straight to the very top off the peak. From here the M1 main run down is a relatively easy intermediate run offering many choices of variations branching off it. Best done in the morning before the crowds can turn the run into bumps and scraped ice the M1 is a long fun ride. As you improve try Million Dollar, Sugar Run and then the steepest groomed run on the mountain - The Hurdle.
For the most skiers advanced off-piste runs such as the Exchange, Chimney and Back Bowls are easily accessed from the top of the Express lift and provide loads of challenges for any level and can be exceptional skiing on a powder day.
In the distance on the far left is the Greengates chairlift which provides further variety for intermediate plus skiers. Try the Sarah Sue run for a wonderful cruise right out to the edge of the ski area and views into the Skippers Valley once famed for it’s gold fields.
Eating and drinking
The main building provides loads of options for lunch including a “sub-station” on the outside of the building. Seating can be a premium on bad weather days but generally there are loads of options both in and outside the building. If you, however, are looking for something more unique try Heidi’s Hut at the base of the t-bar (heading our warning on ski levels needed to ride the t-bar). Heidi’s is a tiny Austrian style hut perfect for an a la carte pizzas and local Pinot Noir.
Coronet Peak is unique in New Zealand for it's night skiing on a Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night. There is something quite unique about skiing under lights and NZSki does it well. Live music usually plays on the deck area of the main building and the restaurant is open for great pizza. Perhaps the only downside is that it seems to spur everyone to ski a lot faster and the slopes can feel a bit dangerous with the kids - but they love it nonetheless!!!
Coronet Peak is arguably New Zealand’s premium ski field. Every level of skier and holidaymaker is accommodated and as a result it can feel pretty busy. High speed lifts and plenty of ski area however mean that waiting times in lift lines are very rarely more than a few minutes. And like we say, we think the fall line on Coronet Peak rivals anything in the world - we just wish it was much longer!