This summer, while some families are lying on beach blankets, others are making snow angels at Southern Hemisphere resorts that are celebrating “winter” with crisp ski deals.
For example, the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in early June often marks the earliest resort opening for Coronet Peak, New Zealand.
This mountain resort, located about 20 minutes outside Queenstown on the South Island, is typically open full time June through October. Coronet Peak features lots of family-friendly terrain served by the Coronet Express and Meadows Express quad chairlifts.
Queenstown’s other major resort, The Remarkables, is open too, and both are available to pass holders.
Where to stay and ski in Queenstown
Coronet Peak, Mt Hutt and The Remarkables work together as part of the New Zealand Ski consortium.
We asked public relations manager Frederique Gulcher about lodging facilities for families at the Queenstown area resorts.
Because Coronet Peak is in Queenstown’s downtown central business district, she explained, there is no accommodation on the mountain. However, as New Zealand’s most visited tourist destination, visitors have plenty to choose from in town. The Duke street bus center provides regular transportation to Coronet Peak and to The Remarkables.
“There are hotels suited to all budgets,” Ms. Gulcher replied by email. “Airbnb is great for families when you have a kitchen, but otherwise there are loads of apartment style accommodations in town.”
Ski Programs for Kids at Coronet Peak
Of course, skiing and snowboarding are just as big family sports Down Under as they are up north, in the northern hemisphere. At Coronet Peak, noted Ms. Gulcher, kids 5 and under ski free of charge.
Coronet Peak has expanded its offerings by adding night skiing, every Wednesday through Saturday, all season long. A lifesize Ice Castle built by a team from Utah provides family fun and a fantastic slide, made entirely of ice. There are also more opportunities to sightsee via chairlifts in these beautiful mountains for non-skiers and non-riders.
Families Love Mt. Hutt
“If they’re 10 and under, kids ski free at Mt. Hutt, also one of our mountains in Canterbury,” she added. Among all the South Island resorts, Mt. Hutt is known as a very good family option, because it’s 30 minutes from the ski town of Methven and has lots of free accommodations for children staying in their parents’ room, as well as free resort activities for kids under age 11.
That doesn’t make it “easy” — the 900-acre ski field won the “Best New Zealand Ski Resort” at the World Ski Awards for the past several years running.
What’s New at The Remarkables
We can’t help but think of super heroes every time we hear the name, The Remarkables, and these are truly heroically beautiful moutains. Located about 40 minutes from Queenstown, this resort is also accessible by public transportation and boasts many family amenities.
The Remarkables has learner conveyors — a Magic Carpet style transportation system for beginners, as well as a terrain park with six features called Calypso, where kids can practice freestyling. The six-seater, high speed Curvey Basin and four-person Alta, Sugar Bowl and Shadow Basin chairlifts provide easy, quick access to a wider variety of intermediate and expert terrain.
Snowboard Central at The Remarkables
In September 2019, they will celebrate 11 years of the Burton Stash, the terrain park designed for learners by the Vermont-based snowboarding pioneers. Known for its rolling descents and classic fall lines, The Remarkables Stash Park is one of only six Stash Parks globally and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere.
Apparently, it’s considered by Burton to be among the most unique snowboard terrain parks in the world. Celebrate free of charge by trying out a custom-built course of hits, berms and features on that day, and taking advantage of resort prizes, giveaways and a free barbecue.
Whether a skier or snowboarder, visitors can take advantage of the Kea Kids Club (the Kea is a native bird and also the name of the mascot at The Stash) all season long at The Remarkables, which has recently been upgraded too.
Kiwi Slope Style
To get the most out of your Kiwi ski adventure, go local. Favorite snacks include the breakfast burrito at the new coffeebar and the region’s famous savory pies. The popular Ice bar, a mid-moutain halt for bacon butties and other snacks, is one of the mountain’s most scenic spots.
For apres-ski, it’s anywhere you can pull up a stool and try warm cheese rolls with a glass of Amisfield sparkling wine.
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