Mountain Rules & Etiquette

Keeping you and those around you safe on the snow in Queenstown

Like road rules, there are some pretty simple piste-based rules which are designed to keep us all safe on the mountain this winter, while skiing or boarding in Queenstown New Zealand. The first part of the paragraph makes up one of the official10 FIS (Federation of International Ski) Rules for the Conduct of Skiers and Snowboarders. And in Italics, we’ve added just a few more etiquette suggestions that are a given on the ski fields down here in Queenstown.

BUT, most of all, skiing and boarding should be fun and a super awesome experience, so stay safe and be kind and respectful this winter!

10 FIS (Federation of International Ski) Rules for the Conduct of Skiers and Snowboarders.

1. Respect for others

A skier or snowboarder must behave in such a way that he does not endanger or prejudice others. Skiers and snowboarders are responsible not only for their behaviour but also for their defective equipment. This rule also applies to those using the newly developed material. Those who rent, must choose the proper equipment suitable for their skiing level. For example, a beginner skier must beware of getting the Atomic Redster G9, which is good only for expert skiers with good skills.

  • Snowboarders have a blind side, so be aware that skiing in a blind spot means that they are often UNAWARE of your presence - so minimise the potential of a collision by staying well clear!

  • Don’t litter - Respect the beautiful environment please - that includes not dropping wrappers off the lifts (both Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are, for the most part, SMOKE-FREE)
  • Respect the lift line etiquette - there is a system on both mountains that works!
  • Don’t join the lift queue and then stop to wait for your friends or family. Meet them BEFORE joining the lift queue!
  • Don’t ski/board over other people's equipment - a little respect goes a long way!
  • Be mindful of swinging those ski poles around - cracked goggles are the least of your worries if you connect another skier/boarder in the face!

2. Control of speed and skiing or snowboarding

A skier or snowboarder must move in control. He must adapt his speed and manner of skiing or snowboarding to his personal ability and to the prevailing conditions of terrain, snow and weather as well as to the density of traffic. Collisions usually happen because skiers or snowboarders are moving too fast, out of control or have failed to see others. A skier or snowboarder must be able to stop, turn and move within the ambit of his own vision. In crowded areas or in places where visibility is reduced, skiers and snowboarders must move slowly especially at the edge of a steep slope, at the bottom of a slope and within areas surrounding ski lifts.

  • Don’t race too close to learners - give them a wide berth. Generally, beginners are unpredictable and Remember, the noise of you behind them could cause them to panic and change direction on a dime!

3. Choice of route

A skier or snowboarder coming from behind must choose his route in such a way that he does not endanger skiers or snowboarders ahead. Skiing and snowboarding are free activity sports, where everyone may move where and as they please, provided that they abide by these rules and adapt their skiing and snowboarding to their personal ability and to the prevailing conditions on the mountain. The skier or snowboarder in front has priority. The skier or snowboarder moving behind another in the same direction must keep sufficient distance between himself and the other skier or snowboarder so as to leave the preceding skier or snowboarder enough space to make all his movements freely.

  • Know before you go. Check the piste level before getting on that lift!
  • We all understand that family time on the slopes is precious, but please be mindful of your route choice with regard to children. Remember that children on the slopes are harder to spot by other skiers/boarders
  • How to say this delicately…. The measure of your child's skiing ability is not how hard they tuck and boot down the mountain. So while you’re taking that skiing video of your little ripper ripping up the piste, please remember that children are NOT able to make calculated decisions on how to ski safe - which puts them and others at risk of collisions on piste - we encourage you to be mindful of this when choosing the best route for your family!

Spinnaker Bay Apartments Family Hotel Queenstown New Zealand Skiing Holiday

4. Overtaking

A skier or snowboarder may overtake another skier or snowboarder above or below and to the right or to the left provided that he leaves enough space for the overtaken skier or snowboarder to make any voluntary or involuntary movement. A skier or snowboarder who overtakes another is wholly responsible for completing that manoeuvre in such a way to cause no difficulty to the skier or snowboarder being overtaken. This responsibility rests with him until the overtaking manoeuvre has been completed. This rule applies even when overtaking a stationary skier or snowboarder.

  • The skier in front of you has the right of way - pretty much always
  • Try overtaking on the edges of the piste. Learners nearly always stick to the comfort zone in the middle of the piste and given the sometimes erratic pathway they take, it is often safer to overtake on the outer parts of the piste
  • Learners or intermediate skiers - there are always quicker, more confident and more experienced skiers and boarders around you - be mindful of NOT TURNING ‘on a dime’. EXPECT that there are others behind you who may be moving quicker and a change in your line will have an effect on those around and behind you!

5. Entering, starting and moving upwards

A skier or snowboarder entering a marked run, starting again after stopping or moving upwards on the slopes must look up and down the slopes so that he can do so without endangering himself or others. Experience proves that joining a slope or starting again after stopping is the sources of accidents. It is absolutely essential that a skier or snowboarder finding himself in this situation enters the slope safely and without causing an obstruction or danger to himself or others. When he has started skiing or snowboarding properly again – even slowly – he has the benefit of rule 3 as against faster skiers and snowboarders coming from above or behind. The development of carving skis and snowboards allows their users to carve and turn upwards on the slopes. Hence they move opposite to the general downhill traffic. They must, therefore, make sure in time that they can do so without endangering themselves and others.

  • Translation - Skiers and boarders ON PISTE have the right-of-way. You cannot jump or join a piste without first checking that the piste is clear. This also means that after stopping on the PISTE you MUST check there is no uphill traffic before starting again!

6. Stopping on the slope

Unless absolutely necessary, a skier or snowboarder must avoid stopping on the slope in narrow places or where visibility is restricted. After a fall in such a place, a skier or snowboarder must move clear of the slope as soon as possible. Except on wide slopes, stops must be made at the side of the slope. One must not stop in narrow places or where it is difficult to be seen from above.

  • DON’t stop in the middle of a piste/slope - move to the sides!
  • DON’T EVER stop under a roller or just after a blind corner (think trees etc) where the uphill traffic cannot see you. Move immediately to the sides

7. Climbing and descending on foot

A skier or snowboarder either climbing or descending on foot must keep to the side of the slope. Moving against the general direction poses unexpected obstacles for the skiers and snowboarders. Footprints damage the slope and can cause danger to skiers and snowboarders.

  • Rule of thumb - NEVER take your skis and board off while on the piste!  
  • When possible wear a snowboard leash!

8. Respect for signs and markings

A skier or snowboarder must respect all signs and markings. The degree of difficulty of a slope is indicated in black, red, blue or green. A skier or snowboarder is free to choose whichever slope he wants. The slopes are also marked with other signs showing direction or giving warnings of danger or closure. A sign closing a slope, like one denoting danger, must be strictly observed. Skiers and snowboarders should be aware that warning signs are posted in their own interests.
Respect the ‘out of bounds’ ropes - they are there for a reason! From danger to non patrolled areas (and often not covered on travel insurance), the ropes are there to keep you safe!

9. Assistance

At accidents, every skier or snowboarder is duty-bound to assist. It is a cardinal principle for all sportsmen that they should render assistance following an accident independent of any legal obligation to do so. Immediate First Aid should be given, the appropriate authorities alerted and the place of the accident marked to warn other skiers and snowboarders. FIS hopes that a hit and run offence in skiing and snowboarding will incur a criminal conviction similar to hit and run an offence on the road and those equivalent penalties will be imposed by all countries where such legislation is not already in force.

  • If someone falls or looks in trouble, please be kind and stop and just ask if they need assistance - you can always ski down to the next left and let a member of the staff know. Helpful information to communicate includes:
    • General age/ location/gender/outfit/nature of injury
  • By marked, it means, if possible place your board and/or your skis uphill from the injured in an ‘X’ fashion

10. Identification

Every skier or snowboarder and witness, whether a responsible party or not, must exchange names and addresses following an accident. Witnesses are of great importance in establishing a full and proper report of an accident and therefore everybody must consider that it is the duty as a responsible person to provide information as a witness. Reports of the rescue service and of the police as well as photographs are of considerable assistance in determining civil and criminal liability.


Keep safe this winter while skiing on our local ski fields and resorts such as Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cadrona Alpine Resort by following these simple guidelines - but most importantly, have fun, be kind to one another and respect both the environment and each other! 

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