WHAT’S IT LIKE TO GO NIGHT SKIING IN QUEENSTOWN?
All I can hear is the glassy crunch of my skis with each turn.
Cliffs and hills cast shadows on the floodlit trails while perfect silhouettes of committed skiers and snowboarders dance on the snow.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
It’s -3C and the crispness of the air is enough to cut through the breathing holes on my balaclava.
By the time I’m at the bottom of the chairlift, my insides are warmer and I can feel the heat being generated in my thighs from the constant squatting and knee bends down the mountain.
What’s usually a race to get through the queues as quick as possible during the daylight, is now a relaxed glide into place for the chairlift.
Rising higher up the slopes, I watch the moving silhouettes of the slats from the chairlift on the snow, and the clear outline of skis and snowboards hanging from the dangling feet of each athlete.
Looking up into the sky, the minimal light pollution and clear skies make way for an impressive viewing of the Milky Way.
My experience night skiing in Queenstown doesn’t do much to quench my desires; instead, it leaves me yearning for more time carving the slopes, feeding the addiction.
WHERE TO GO NIGHT SKIING IN QUEENSTOWN
Night skiing is reasonably rare for New Zealand ski fields. Coronet Peak is the only ski field in Queenstown to offer the chance to ski or board with only floodlights and moonlight to guide you down the slopes on Friday and Saturday nights.
There’s a great party atmosphere with a DJ on the heated deck.
Here’s what you need to know about Coronet Peak:
- 280 hectares skiable area
- Elevation: 1649m
- Longest run: 2.4km
- Snowmaking: 211 snow guns
- Night skiing: Wednesdays in July, Fridays and Saturdays 4pm-9pm
- First tracks: 8am
- Terrain: 32% beginner | 41% intermediate | 27% advanced
The only other major commercial ski field to offer night skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand is Whakapapa at Mt Ruapehu, in the North Island.
WHY GO NIGHT SKIING iN QUEENSTOWN?
What’s the big deal about night skiing?
For skiers and snowboarders, it often means an extra few hours on the slopes. Most chairlifts finish running for the day at 4pm. For us, we had a weekend in Queenstown with busy days so our only chance was to head to the slopes in the evening.
But aside from adding extra hours, night skiing and snowboarding is a lot of fun – and somewhat exhilarating.
The queues are significantly shorter than during the daytime as there are far fewer people on the slopes. You can head down some trails and not have to worry about being knocked over by dozens of reckless skiers and boarders at any given moment.
The trails are well lit, but off-trail is dark. Some people choose to wear a head torch and go off trail, but we don’t recommend it unless you’re experienced and know the mountain like the back of your hand.
Night skiing is a unique and fun experience without having to battle the crowds.
The best bit?
On a clear night, the views of the Milky Way from Coronet Peak are spectacular.
HOW TO GET TO CORONET PEAK FOR NIGHT SKIING
Coronet Peak is only 25-minutes away from downtown Queenstown.
If you’re hiring a vehicle, you’ll need to hire chains as well if you don’t have a 4WD, in case there’s snow on the road. Your car hire company should arrange this for you.
If you don’t want to drive yourself, there are return buses for night skiing from the Queenstown Snow Centre. They operate every hour from 4pm to 7pm, leaving Coronet Peak every half hour from 5.30pm to 9.30pm.
WHERE TO STAY in QUEENSTOWN
We often choose Airbnb for our trips to Queenstown as there is a huge selection of places.
Queenstown is probably the busiest tourist hub of New Zealand, especially during the ski season, thanks to the numerous ski fields the region has to offer. Accommodation does book out quickly and you’ll pay a premium for last-minute deals in hotels, so Airbnb in Queenstown works well.
We can recommend two places for couples in particular.
If you want your own studio with kitchenette, and don’t mind being a little out of central Queenstown, then Sharn’s place at Shotover is a great option. The place is clean, tidy modern and spacious.
If you just need a room, and don’t mind shared facilities, Honor and Andy’s place is a good choice for skiers and snowboarders and wake up to views of The Remarkables!
WHERE TO GET COFFEE BEFORE YOUR MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE
Our go-to cafe in Queenstown is Bespoke Kitchen. Perfect coffee every time and some delicious raw slices for a pre-ski snack! It’s located down Isle St and open til 5pm each day.
DISCUSS: Have you ever been night skiing? What makes you enjoy night skiing or snowboarding over the daytime?