The Remarkables Ski Resort Guide
The Remarkables are exactly that; remarkable. Not only are they the most photographed mountain range in the world due to their outstanding beauty, they also sit just 45 minutes’ drive from downtown Queenstown.
Outstanding natural beauty within reach.
The ski area sits so close to the city, there is not a dedicated Remarkables resort as most people choose to stay in Queenstown.
With parks, expert trails, heli-skiing and sun-soaked slopes so close to the city, its no surprise The Remarkables are one of the most popular resorts in New Zealand.
At the base of the ski area itself there is no accommodation. The main building provides basic facilities to make sure your day on the mountain is enjoyable.
There’s a restaurant, a café, equipment rental, a small shop selling warm clothing and gear, storage space for anything you don’t want to take up the mountain, a ski school and a bar. It’s compact, modern and efficient and the views from the terrace are spectacular.
Because of the lack of on-mountain accommodation, most people chose to stay in the main city of Queenstown. There are some very efficient shuttle services which can pick you up from your hotel and take you directly to the mountain in under an hour.
Of course, you can rent a car and shorten your journey time but the drive can be intimidating for anyone who hasn’t driven mountain roads before. Most people opt to take the shuttle buses.
Queenstown has all the luxuries and opportunities of a major city. There is a huge range of accommodation from backpacker hostels and motels through to five-star all inclusive hotels. The beauty of a big city resort is that whatever you are looking for will be available.
This also means that if you don’t want to ski every day or are in a party with with non-skiers, there is plenty to keep everyone happy. From shopping, restaurants, spas and cinemas to parks, shows, art galleries and a thriving nightlife, Queenstown has everything.
The city itself sits on a lake so although it gets a dusting of snow in the winter months but it won’t be buried under a blanket of white. This means that there are plenty of hiking trails around the city for anyone who wants to explore the beautiful scenery without strapping on a pair of skis.
On the slopes
One of the most obvious drawbacks of the Remarkables; the ski park itself is not massive. The entire area is just 504 acres with only seven lifts. But despite its size, it offers a surprising range of slopes for all abilities.
The resort is well-known as a fantastic place to learn to ski. There are dedicated beginner zones as well as slow zones. Its very family-friendly with lots of lessons on offer and slopes to suit those who have never been on skis before and those who need to build up a bit more confidence. There are some great runs for cruising and gaining confidence going fast.
The resort has a huge amount of sunny days so standing still and taking lessons doesn’t result in freezing solid. The ski school offers group lessons, private lessons, kids lessons, everything you’d expect from a larger resort.
Of course, the benefit of learning to ski in such an excellent place is also the negative. Lots of people come here to learn so beginner slopes can be crowded, particularly on weekends.
If you’re move advanced, there are a range of parks reserved for experts where who can perfect your flips, tricks and jumps. There are seven parks in total including beginner and kids’ parks.
But there are plenty of expert and advanced parks as well. There are also several expert trails for the more advanced skiers where you can access back country tracks and bowls to find the best snow.
The snow is another slight drawback of the Remarkables. They usually get less than four meters of snow a year. The sunny days means snow sometimes thins out and snow cannons are used on the main routes. As with all man-made snow, it can get sticky, and is nowhere near as nice to ski on as the natural stuff.
Any natural snow which is left off-piste is often lumpy and heavy or icy and patchy due the constant sun. Although the natural bowls mean snow does stick around and the resort will remain open, it won’t be great conditions.
The other big downfall of the Remarkables is that due to its amazing location and easy access, it can get busy.
Some weekends it seems as though everyone from Queenstown has moved to the mountain. And when a resort is busy, the lift prices are high.
In peak season the price of a lift pass rockets. Its totally worth it if you’re a beginner and getting a lot of lifts, but if you’re more advanced and using the lifts to access the back country, its almost cheaper to hire a helicopter and do it that way.
However, due to popular demand, there are plans to extend and increase the number of lifts and the skiable terrain. The Remarkables remain so popular that investment in constant and you can be sure that whatever the area fails to offer at the moment, will be coming in the near future.
As with most resorts in New Zealand, the off-piste offering is a huge draw for many. The vast, untouched back country surrounding the Remarkables resort is perfect for heli-skiing. With so many freestyle parks in the resort the area attracts a lot of experts looking to push themselves beyond the boundaries of lifts and graded runs.
The Remarkables form part of a larger area known as the southern lakes area so most heli-skiing tours will take you far away from the actual resort. As you would expect for such extensive terrain, there are a multitude of tours offering everything for one day tasters for intermediate skiers to 5day adventures for the more advanced.
The great thing about the remarkables is that awesome off piste can be found very close to the main resort.
If you don’t want to splash out on a heli-skiing tour and you don’t mind a short hike, there are plenty of access points from the main pistes that lead into great off piste runs.
If you’re looking for a wide variety of both on and off-piste, the Remarkables can only offer the latter. But if you are looking to hit the back country as well as spending some time improving your technique, then the Remarkables Queenstown offers a perfect blend.