Queenstown: Skiing and Snowboarding
Ok so these can be a problem for us stingy folk, as anything ski/snowboard related is expensive in New Zealand. There are two main mountains in Queenstown: The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. The neighbouring town of Wanaka also boats two mountains: Cardrona and Treble Cone – probably the better resorts, but they cost an arm and a leg to get to. You can choose to buy daily or season passes for extortionate prices, but if you’re only going for a week or so and are a student (or can forge a student card), you can get quite good accommodation/hire/lift pass packages through websites like www.skitravelcompany.com.au. You can also buy rechargeable cards – a MyPass for the Queenstown Mountains and a My Cardrona for the Wanaka ones. The breakdown is as follows:
Bus Ride: $10 return, 45 minute journey
Lift Pass: Students are $72, adults are $93
Runs: Quite steep with unmatched views.
Food: Two cafeterias and delicious pizzas that make amazing hungover breakfasts.
Bus Ride: $10 return, 20 minute journey
Lift Pass: Adults are $97 – no student passes available
Runs: Only three lifts – a bunny-ish hill, a cross-country explorer hill and a long fun run with lots of park.
Food: Small cafeteria – fairly average, but has free wifi so you can live-upload your Instragram pics.
Bus Ride: $45 return, 1 hour 15 minute journey
Lift Pass: Adults are $95 online (save $2!)
Runs: Long and beautiful – you can literally ride for 15-20 minutes uninterrupted from the top to the bottom of the mountain. Plenty of park features.
Food: Lots of options, and there’s a noodle bar. Need I say more?
Bus Ride: $49 return, 1 hour 45 minute journey
Lift Pass: $95 online (save $2 again!)
Runs: Steep and often icy due to the sun exposure, but lots of mountain to explore. Small park.
Food: Cafeteria and a bar that does mean mulled wine.
Given how expensive and time-consuming the bus rides to Wanaka are, you really are better off trying to hitchhike or hiring a car. At least try and make it to Wanaka’s town centre for free, because from there you can get a $10 bus ride up the mountain. If you hire a car between two though, you’ll have easily covered its cost with the $90-$100 joint bus fee anyway, and you’ll halve the time it takes to get there. Keep in mind that the roads are icy as fuck as New Zealand hasn’t yet heard of guard rails when it comes to the drive up the mountain, so be careful. In terms of the Remarkables vs. Coronet, The Remarkables is a little bit cheaper in every aspect – even the food in the cafés and restaurants. This is most likely due to the fact that they are trying to draw more people there, as most opt for Coronet because it’s closer. In my opinion Coronet is worth the extra money – and I am rarely willing to fork out even an extra $2. It is a bigger mountain, with more runs and lifts, is closer and more convenient to get to and the facilities are much more modern and up-to-date. However, on a good day, nothing can beat some of the views you get at the Remarkables. There are also smaller lines and less crowds, and if you’re a steeze who’s in to park riding, it’s the resort to go, boasting features of every size. Coronet doesn’t have any parks or jumps, but you can find a few nice natural features to play on.
Also, if your morals are moderate to low and your poverty level is high, there is a way to get cheaper lift passes. It does, however, involve a few hours of manual labour and luck. When you get to Queenstown, instead of heading straight to the mountains, head straight for the bathrooms and get yourself looking and smelling respectable. When the clock reads 5pm, head down to the pubs for après drinks and find yourself a mountain employee or, even better, an instructor and get your flirt on asap.
Spend a couple of hours building rapport and even consider forking out and buying them a $5 beer, because if you get their number, you’re in the running for some half price lift tickets. All employees are given discount passes for friends with their pay cheques – I’m not sure what their limit is, but you should be able to get one. I know this may seem bad but a lot of the employees get quite the collection of passes over the course of the season and never even use them – what a waste!