A guide to skiing Coronet Peak

A Local's Guide to Skiing Coronet Peak Ski Field, Queenstown NZ

Only 20 minutes away from downtown Queenstown, New Zealand, Coronet Peak Ski Field is an internationally renowned ski field boasting world-class facilities and tremendous skiing. In fact, as mad skiers, we often say that Coronet Peak is one of the best ski fields in the world!   It has a fun fall line that has heaps of potential on pow-pow days!

So you've booked to come and stay with us at Spinnaker Bay Apartments, Queenstown and are thinking through the ski field options?  Well, as locals we support both Coronet Peak and the Remarkables - but they are fundamentally different, offering quite a remarkably different snow experience.  Coronet Peak is more.... corporate.  it tends to be busy with tourists and lift lines can take a long time to conquer.  Things seem to be more structured up there which tends to lend to a more structured ski day.  Anyway, what we suggest, is that you find out for yourself!  

Getting From Spinnaker Bay Apartments to Coronet Peak Ski Field, Queenstown NZ

It is pretty hard to miss Coronet Peak - it's the big mountain that kinda 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 can make it dicey at times, requiring you to fit chains.  So I guess our first piece of advice is to ALWAYS carry snow chains - and know how to fit them!  Don't leave it until you're at the bottom of the hill, trying to chain up on a snow day, and not having a foggy how to do it!  You'll frustrate yourself and experience unnecessary delays in getting onto the snow!

If booking a rental car, ask them for a demo!  And ask them if they have snow tyres too... It's not so common in NZ, as it is in Europe, but ask all the same.  They really do make a difference.

Top Tip:  if the rental car comes with new chains, make sure you OPEN the chain box before leaving the rental company - this will satisfy two purposes:  a) to check them and understand how they work and b) to break the seal on the box, so you are not left trying to do that en route to the top of the mountain!

Alternatively, take the NZSki Ski bus.  While not cheap, they are frequent and reliable and built for purpose.  You may have to head into town to connect with the ski bus, but you can do that on public transport.  Ask us at reception so we can help you organise everything. 

Once you have arrived, our advice is park and take the free shuttle. There is a drop-off zone but it often resembles a war zone with cars and kids and gear and madness. It is just as simple to park the car, walk a few metres to the shuttle and relax. The shuttles come through every few minutes so no time is lost.  And it means you can get dressed at your car and only carry the necessary clothes and equipment up.


pow day coronet peak


Main Street on Coronet Peak Ski Field

Whether you have arrived by bus or car you will enter Coronet Peak onto 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, a bar and a buffet styled self service 'restaurant'.  Lunchtime often has snack style food like burgers, pies, hot chips and sandwiches, or from the restaurant, you can order excellent - albeit expensive - pizzas and a range of full meals. The barista and bar are right in front of you as you walk in off the deck - but be warned that between 9:30 and 11am the wait for coffee can be horrendous!

Learners and intermediate skiers turn right as you leave the base building.

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, because just a few metres walk to the right are 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 (skier's) left is the Rocky Gully t-bar. It looks lovely skiing and is 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 venturing down to tackle the t-bar! 

Intermediate and advanced skiers turn left

While your mates go right you can head out directly to the Coronet Express. The most obvious Express chairlift will whisk you straight to the very top of 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 the longest single piste down the mountain. As you improve try Million Dollar, Sugar, and then the steepest groomed run on the mountain - The Hurdle.


coronet peak trail map


For 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 (looking up at the mountain) is the Greengates chairlift which provides further variety for intermediate+ skiers. Try  Sarah Sue for a wonderful cruise right out to the edge of the ski area and views into Skippers Valley once famed for its gold fields.

Eating and drinking on Coronet Peak Ski Field, Queenstown

The base 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 a la carte pizzas and local Pinot Noir.  if the season is going strong, then NZSki may heli in the 'Ice Bar' which is a converted shipping container that plays at being a bar - it's found at the top of Greengates and often has bean bags and relaxed seating where you can grab a beer or wine.


night skiing coronet peak

Night Skiing on Coronet Peak, Queenstown NZ

Coronet Peak is unique in New Zealand for its night skiing on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. There is a special kinda 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 drink and ski a lot faster and more out of control and the slopes can feel a bit dangerous with the kids - but they love it nonetheless!!!

Coronet Peak Ski Field can be fun iis arguably the most convenient ski field in New Zealand. 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 you can spread out. And like we say, we think the fall line on Coronet Peak rivals anything in the world - we just wish it was much longer!