03
Aug-2017

A Guide To Night Skiing In Queenstown

New Zealand, Snow   /  

Night skiing in Queenstown: Coronet Peak base

Coronet Peak base

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO GO NIGHT SKIING IN QUEENSTOWN?

 

All I can hear is the glassy crunch of my skis with each turn.

Exhilarating.

Peaceful.

Cliffs and hills cast shadows on the floodlit trails while perfect silhouettes of committed skiers and snowboarders dance on the snow.

 

Night skiing in Queenstown: Shadows on the snow

Shadows 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.

 

Night skiing in Queenstown: Skis on the chairlift

 

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.

 

Night skiing in Queenstown: Coronet Express

Coronet Express chairlift

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.

Night skiing in Queenstown: viewing the Milky Way

Milky Way | © Juliette Sivertsen

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.

 

Night skiing in Queenstown: Coronet Peak base

The base of Coronet Peak

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.

GRAB NZD$50 AIRBNB CREDIT WHEN YOU SIGN UP THROUGH THIS LINK!

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.

 

Night skiing in Queenstown: Where to stay

Sharn’s place in Shotover

 

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!

 

Night skiing in Queenstown: Where to stay

Honor and Andy’s place in Queenstown

 

WHERE TO GET COFFEE BEFORE YOUR MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE

 

Priorities, right?

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.

Night skiing in Queenstown: Bespoke Kitchen for coffee

The cabinet at Bespoke Kitchen, Queenstown

 

 

 


DISCUSS: Have you ever been night skiing? What makes you enjoy night skiing or snowboarding over the daytime?

 

Night skiing in Queenstown: Coronet Peak is the only Queenstown ski field offering night skiing and snowboarding!

 

Oregon Girl Around the World
Wanderful Wednesday

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  • Night skiing is popular at Mt. Hood outside of Portland, Oregon – it’s only an hour away from town, so people pop up after work often. It definitely has a different vibe to be on the mountain after dark! That view of the milky way is a stunner and I would definitely be into trying any of those beautiful and delicious looking snacks at Bespoke. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

    • That’s great Mt Hood is so close to Portland – we’d definitely be heading there after work! Part of the reason why we plan to move to Queenstown in the not too distant future.

  • I admire your courage. I have a hard enough time making it down the mountain in one piece in broad daylight. I couldn’t image doing it after dark.

    • Thanks! I think it’s wise to be reasonably confident during daylight hours before attempting night skiing – but the trails are lovely and wide and well lit.

  • I’ve never even been day skiing before. My boyfriend keeps threatening to take me to Tahoe to learn and I keep laughing at him. Night skiing looks amazing under the stars though! It might be a good excuse to learn to ski. #FarawayFiles

    • Oh I would love to go to Tahoe! It’s such a fun activity! It sure does make the winter months more exciting.

  • Night skiing in Queenstown sounds scary but exhilarating at the same time. Yes, there are advantages like fewer crowds and the ability to appreciate the night sky but isn’t it more dangerous because you can’t see off piste? I like that you recommend a headlight to combat this problem. Go brave! 🙂

    • It’s beautiful! And in some ways safer because of fewer people to collide with. We just stick to the trails at night – they are well lit. Off trail would be a bit more dangerous though and not something we are comfortable with yet.

  • Rachelle Gordon

    We have a few resorts in Salt Lake City that offer night skiing, but we don’t have as awesome a view of the Milky Way as Queenstown! The crunch of the snow in the dark is one of those sounds/feelings that is hard to describe, especially during the cold nights. I’m glad you were able to enjoy it!

    • You’re right it’s hard to describe the feeling, but it is exhilarating. Our first time night skiing was in Japan – now that was pretty fun!

  • Jennifer Riley

    I have never been a great skier, but night skiing sounds like a lot of fun. I like that you don’t have to stand in line as long. It would be so nice to ski under the stars.

  • Clare Thomson

    What an incredible experience, Juliette! I’d be bound to have some terrible skiing disaster because I’d be so busy gazing at the stars instead of concentrating on my skiing. I love the idea of skiing without queuing and it must be such a magical atmosphere at night. Thanks for sharing your tips on #FarawayFiles

    • Ha ha best to keep the stargazing until you’ve taken off the skis then! But it’s great being able to ski straight into the chairlift.

  • Marcie

    That seems like such a memorable activity for those who love skiing! I can picture just how quiet it must be compared to daytime skiing. And I can almost hear the crunching of the snow!

    • Truly memorable! We just went night skiing at Mt Ruapehu too last weekend which was fun – although a lot more icy. Such a great activity!

  • Wow night skiing, never heard of! It would so fun and adventure in night and sometimes risky too. But beauty of stars of night sky and white snowy peaks must be admirable. Those Air BnB stays looks comfortable with a nice view after waking up.

    • It’s heaps of fun! Stick to the well-lit trails you’ll be fine. Yes, great to wake up to the mountains!

  • Natalie Tanner

    What an interesting experience! I’ve never even heard of night skiing. I’m sure it takes on a whole new face skiing by moonlight and seeing the shadows. How fun!

  • Aditi Shukla

    I am speechless. Your pictures and description of night skiing has put this mode of skiing at the top of my bucket list. I would love to hire my own vehicle and book an AirBnb, plus start-gaze. Cheers!!

  • Wow! You were so so brave to ski at night! It’s surely an unforgettable experience. The pictures looks really good also.

    • Cheers! The first time I did it was in Japan and I was a little nervous but then it’s really just like skiing in the daytime, you just have to be a bit more careful though.

  • This really does look amazing. I can’t ski – but I think some of my friends who do would be there in a shot! And, tbh, it looks spectacular enough to just sit and watch!

  • Karla Ramos

    Aww the pictures look amazing! I think it would be too cold for me to do this but I would love to try, at least basic one. Under those night sky, I would really want to.

  • This is pretty cool! It’s a shame 99% of the ski areas around the world have no lights or conditions for people to ski at night. When I visited Queenstown the ski season had ended, but I’ll make sure to to try night skiing if I get the chance.

    Bespoke kitchen is great 🙂

    • Wow 99% – I did not know that figure. I think there are only three places in NZ – two commercial fields and one club field. I just assumed NZ was slow off the mark…

  • Jing

    I haven’t tried skiing and I don’t know if I can do it, but I guess I’d be willing to learn and try day skiing first. haha! The snacks at Bespoke Kitchen are tempting, by the way. 🙂

    • Yes definitely do some daytime skiing first! But it’s lots of fun. But I always have to fuel up at Bespoke Kitchen first!

  • travellingslacker

    Skiing has always looked difficult to me and I have never tried it. Now night skiing seems an even more difficult task that I doubt I will ever be able to do. But it is thrilling indeed even to witness. I am more interested in teh food at the end. I guess I will go there after the adventure rather than going before.

  • I like skiing, but have never done it at night. Most of the places we visited have daytime hours. I would love to try something like this though! Looks like a fun way to experience winter weather.

  • I don’t really ski – the closest I’ve been was in Ben Nevis, Scotland, and the indoor skiing at Ski Dubai 😀 so I guess a night skiing is out of question for me. Nevertheless, I certainly wouldn’t mind waking up to a view like that from Honor and Andy’s place! 😀

  • Patricia Steffy

    I’ve never gone downhill skiing, but this looks so peaceful and wonderful. Your descriptions made me feel like I was heading down the hill with the cold air on my face (no small accomplishment as it is about 85 degrees here). I really would love to try it, although I suppose I should probably take some lessons first. 🙂

  • Aleah | SolitaryWanderer.com

    I’ve never gone skiing, much less night skiing! I agree though that it seems more fun at night. Less crowds, less noise. All the more to enjoy the beauty around you.

  • Punita Malhotra

    While reading the post, I was wondering…but why night skiing? Until i reached the part which had a picture of that fabulous starry sky. Now I know why and it is a great idea!

  • Melody Pittman

    That sounds so fun. I’ve only tried skiing twice but had to deal with children both times. I really should try as an adult. 😉

    • I hope you get the chance for some kid-free skiing soon! My sister and I went skiing last weekend and her husband took the kids – she was buzzing after being able to go down without having to worry about a little person!

  • Brianna

    I’ve never been skiing before, and I’d probably be really terrible at it. But night skiing sounds way fun! I’d probably get distracted by all the stars and end up running into something 😛

    • Many people think they would be terrible at it but a lesson is all it requires – it’s not a skill you have to be born with! But best keep your eyes on the trail 😛

  • Paige Brown

    It looks super peaceful and a little bit eerie! I’ve never tried skiing, but have this gut feeling I’d break a leg or something. Haha! I’ll try it in the daylight first. 😉

  • Lara Dunning

    Sounds like a great way to experience the slopes. And, I love your photo of the Milky Way! Unfortunately, I’m very uncoordinated and never got the hang of skiing.

  • This sounds like so much fun! When we visit NZ next year we will definitely be doing this! Love how it helps free up the day for other activities too if you don’t have long!

    • Yes you must! When are you coming to NZ? What parts will you visit? Hit me up if you need some recommendations!

  • Awesome intro and description… crunch, crunch, crunch. Love it. I haven’t been skiing in like forever. It was probably on a elementary or high school trip. I remember being good at it though. I gotta get back out on the slopes, especially at night.

    • Thanks, I hope it gave you a sense of place! You should definitely get back out there! You won’t regret it.

  • Silver Backpacker

    Ive never been skiing , let alone night skiiing. This sounds like an awesome extreme sport for those adrenaline junkies. As long as its the snow going crunch crunch and not someones legs 🙂

  • The beautiful sky left me speechless. It looks so perfect to be skiing while admiring the milky way. Skiing on a peaceful night sounds so meditative, too. <3

  • The Van Cave Project

    Seriously missing the skies in NZ right now. We’re shockingly bad at skiing so I imagine we’d be even worse at night. Sounds like an amazing experience.though so we’d definitely be up for it!

    • They are pretty special aren’t they! Skiing can take a little bit of time to get the hang of, but it’s a learned skill, most people can’t ski on their first go!

  • Miranda Knudtson

    If I was a skiier, being able to see the gorgeous Milky Way is enough reason for me to go night skiing! What a view!

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