A Guide to Snowboarding and Skiing in Queenstown on a Budget
With four ski fields to choose from and home to a lively après ski scene, check out Skyscanner Australia's complete guide to snowboarding and skiing in Queenstown, New Zealand on a budget. We've included information on which passes to purchase, how to find cheap food, and how to find the best value ski accommodations in Queenstown.
Though the price of a ski vacation usually correlates to the high altitude of the mountain you’re riding, it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s possible to take an idyllic ski trip to the Southern Alps of New Zealand without spending a small fortune. The key is to be a little creative and plan your journey ahead of time to avoid surprise costs. In this guide to skiing in Queenstown, we’ll give you tips on where to stay in Queenstown, how to get around, how to save money on food, how to find a ski resort job in New Zealand, plus the best things to do in winter.
The Queenstown ski fields
Queenstown is home to four snow resorts to explore during New Zealand’s ski season — as well as a few ski fields only accessible via helicopter. If you’re on a budget, you’ll want to choose between the four ski fields of Cadrona Alpine Resort, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, and Treble Cone.
boasts the largest ski area in Queenstown with many types of trails to suit a variety of skill levels. Beginner and intermediate skiers will love skiing down the groomers while those who are more experienced can play around in the free riding chutes. Treble Cone also offers panoramic views of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. It is about one and a half hours away from Queenstown by car.
[Coronet Peak,](https://www.nzski.com/queenstown/the-mountains/coronet-peak) just a twenty-minute drive from Queenstown, is perfect for groups of skiers and snowboarders with varying abilities. Completely family friendly, the ski area hosts a day care and schools for budding skiers and snowboarders. The resort is also open at night, allowing adventurous snow riders to glide over powder under the stars.
Forty minutes from Queenstown, [The Remarkables](https://www.nzski.com/queenstown/the-mountains/the-remarkables) ski area is the best place for skilled skiers and snowboarders with three terrain parks and off-piste runs serviced by chair lifts.
##When does Queenstown skiing season begin and end?
It depends on the snowfall, but the ski season in Queenstown typically begins in June and ends in October.
##Where to stay in Queenstown
For a cheaper accommodation in Queenstown, avoid going during national holidays or festivals. The beginning and the end of the New Zealand snow season tend to be much cheaper than the months of July and August. To save even more money, stay in Queenstown rather than at an accommodation near the ski areas themselves.
For backpacking travelers, try [Nomads Queenstown Backpackers](http://www.skyscanner.com.au/hotels/hotel/Nomads+Queenstown+Backpackers?idx=0&id=47039407), a hostel near scenic Lake Wakatipu with a fully equipped kitchen and fireplace area. Alternatively, check out [Sir Cedrics Bungi Backpackers](http://www.skyscanner.com.au/hotels/hotel/Sir+Cedrics+Bungi+Backpackers?idx=0&id=123723097) or the [Haka Lodge Queenstown](http://www.skyscanner.com.au/hotels/hotel/Haka+Lodge+Queenstown?idx=0&id=115504657), which are two other great value hostels in the heart of the city. If you are with family or in a large group, it might be worth renting a villa with multiple bedrooms during your stay.
##How to get from Queenstown to the ski slopes
You can either drive, take a bus, or shuttle from Queenstown to the ski areas.
If you’re driving, be sure to check road conditions ahead of time to see if your vehicle needs chains or snow tyres. If your car isn’t properly equipped, you’ll risk being turned around. When driving to Cardrona Ski Resort, use their park-and-ride option where you can park at the lower parking lot and hop on a shuttle to the resort. Though the shuttle costs $15 per person round-trip, you’ll save time waiting in line and fighting for parking on a busy day. Renting a car provides the most freedom and can be a cheap transportation option if you’re in a large group.
If you’re looking to take a bus from Queenstown to the ski fields, check out the Kiwi Discovery SkiLink daily bus service that shuttles guests from Queenstown to all four mountains and can be [booked online](https://www.kiwidiscovery.com/ski-queenstown/ski-info-mountain-transport/). Prices range from $25 to $50 NZD.
Some accommodations offer specials for shuttle and bus services. Before booking transport yourself, double check to see if there’s a better deal through your hostel or hotel.
##Tips for buying Queenstown ski passes
If you know where you’ll be skiing and when, don’t hesitate to buy passes online. Buying a pass in advance can save you hundreds of dollars, especially if you’ll be investing in one for the whole season.
Before buying a pass, consider how long your ski trip in Queenstown will be. To determine if a season pass is best, divide the cost of the pass by the number of days you plan to ski or snowboard. If the amount is lower than the daily pass rate, then buy the season pass.
Otherwise, consider the Flexi Pass, a ticket that gives skiers and snowboarders access to Cardrona and Treble Cone for multiple days. Alternatively, try the [3 Peak Pass](https://www.nzski.com/queenstown/passes-packages/season-passes) which includes The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. Though half day lift passes are the cheapest, they offer the worst value when you calculate the cost per hour of skiing or snowboarding. Make sure to bring your ID if you are a student, teenager, or senior to get extra discounts. Children under ten years old ski free at some sites, saving money for families.
##Eating on a budget
Though the sound of a warm meal is enticing after a few hours spent on the snow, it will usually come with a steep price at any resort’s base. To avoid impulse buying expensive food, prepare snacks and a lunch ahead of time and store the food in a locker or small backpack. Also, opt for accommodation that includes a kitchen to cook warm and hearty meals. It’s pointless to skimp on hotels and transportation only to spend a fortune on pricey restaurant food.
##Find a Queenstown snow resort job
What if you could go beyond saving money skiing in New Zealand, but actually make a profit while doing so? Jobs at Queenstown ski areas tend to be seasonal, so look into snowboard or ski instructing, ticketing, snow maintenance, hospitality, manning the chair lifts, or any other job that suits your skills. Check out [NZSki ](https://www.nzski.com/employment) for job openings at The Remarkables or Coronet Peak. Head to the employment websites for [Cardrona ](https://employment.cardrona.com/home;jsessionid=BA1851CFF1142820CEC38F380B50F471) and [Treble Cone](http://www.treblecone.com/mountain-info/about-treble-cone/employment/) to see open positions there.
![snowboarding doing a board grab](http://content.skyscnr.com/8a7db60a503cd028b0b78242846fdc9b/GettyImages-493563128.jpg “snowboarder doing a board grab”)
##The best things to do in Queenstown in winter
If you’ve had enough time on the slopes, there are plenty of other things to do in Queenstown during winter.
Queenstown is known as one of the adventure capitals of the world. Adrenaline junkies can get their fix by going skydiving, bungy jumping, or paragliding. Though most people tend to do these activities during summertime, the snowy backdrop and brisk air will make these truly unique experiences.
Once you’ve had enough excitement, you can relax in the Onsen Hot Pools, get a massage at a spa, or take a quiet tour around Milford Sound.
There are also many different cafes, bars, and restaurants to recharge for the next day of skiing and snowboarding.
##Should you get a Queenstown ski package?
Some travellers prefer to arrange a ski package for their holiday in Queenstown, where you’ll have your accommodation, rental gear, transportation, and rental gear be taken care of. While this is typically the most convenient option, ski packages tend to be more expensive than booking everything on your own.
###Skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand doesn’t always have to be expensive. Plan ahead using [Skyscanner Australia](http://www.skyscanner.com.au/) to find the cheapest rates on [car rentals](http://www.skyscanner.com.au/carhire?pick_up=ZQN&drop_off=ZQN), [Cheap accommodation in Queenstown](http://www.skyscanner.com.au/hotels?na=1&s-f_iplace=ZQN&fileName=Queenstown), and [flights](http://www.skyscanner.com.au/transport/flights/au/zqn/cheapest-flights-from-australia-to-queenstown.html?adults=1&children=0&infants=0&cabinclass=economy&rtn=1&preferdirects=false&outboundaltsenabled=false&inboundaltsenabled=false).
Chantae Reden is a journalist who writes about adventure, politics, extreme sports, and travel. She believes every stranger is a potential friend. You can find more adventure writing on her blog, Chantae Was Here or on The Salt Sirens, her ocean-sports website.