WANAKA/OTAGO, SOUTH ISLAND
WHERE TO SKI
There is some scope here for developing skiers and boarders, but when you get right down to it, this is a mountain chock-full of adventure, along its groomed trails, in amongst long natural gullies where you can scoot from side-to-side as if you’re on an endless wave, or high above it all, hiking beyond the lifts to the high alpine terrain. TC comes into its own after a storm, where you’ll find local skiers and boarders bucking like goats at a gate waiting for ski patrol to give the all clear so they can get out there amongst it. And then there are the views, of Lake Wanaka beyond and of the Matukituki Valley below, its braided glacial river shining like ribbons of mercury.
Wanaka’s other main resort is popular with families and beginners for its wide, forgiving runs. It has one of New Zealand’s best kids’ clubs with a nursery, multi-day lesson programs and lots of terrain that’s perfect for first timers. There are a few runs that will entertain more experienced skiers and some fun off piste areas to discover, so it’s a great all round resort for the family. The mountain faces south so snow retention is generally good, though the powder can be quite dry.
WHERE TO STAY
WHARE KEA LODGE & CHALET
Whare Kea Lodge offers up some of New Zealand’s best alpine views nestled in amongst the Southern Alps – just above Lake Wanaka. Built on 75 acres of private farmland just a 10 minute drive from the stunning ski village of Wanaka, the lodge takes a maximum of 12 guests. Helicopters can land on your private back lawn to take you heli-skiing, or one of NZ’s most under-rated ski resorts – Treble Cone – is half an hour up the road. Whare Kea also offers a private chalet in the Mt Aspiring National Park, 50 kilometres from the nearest home and reachable only by helicopter.
RATES: From NZ$1,400 (about A$1,135) per night plus taxes including dinner and breakfast.
WANAKA LUXURY APARTMENTS
These self-contained one-, two-and three-bedroom apartments are close to the centre of Wanaka town. 26 apartments are spread around the grounds in a quiet residential area, but its still close to cafes, restaurants and shops. All have underfloor heating, stone fireplaces and plenty of storage for your gear.
RATES: Apartments from NZ$169 (about A$137) per night.
As the name suggests, these luxury apartments are right on the edge of Lake Wanaka but still close to the centre of town. The apartments are spacious and all have a full kitchen, dining table and laundry facilities, and a communal drying room.
RATES: Apartments from NZ$295 (about A$239) per night.
This sleek and modern lodge sits on the eastern edge of Lake Wanaka. It was designed by renowned New Zealand architect Virginia Russell and is filled with original art and furniture from contemporary New Zealand artists and designers. There’s lots of glass to make the most of the amazing views of the Southern Alps and a large cedar hot tub to soak in after a long day on the mountain.
RATES: From NZ$450 (about A$365) per night.
QUEENSTOWN/OTAGO, SOUTH ISLAND
WHERE TO SKI
CORONET PEAK & THE REMARKABLES
These two main resorts right by Queenstown are completely different and each well worth visiting. Views from both are just spectacular and enormous, across the patchwork fields and surrounding mountains. Coronet is slightly closer, about 30 minutes’ drive away, and the slopes are rolling, super fun, and mostly intermediate. The near-new base lodge is lovely with such touches as heated concrete floors on the outdoor deck to avoid slipping on ice. There is a separate lounge and food service area for VIP clients who also receive parking privileges right near the lodge. The Remarkables, 45 minutes from Queenstown, has excellent learner slopes, a huge five-star Burton-designed terrain park and on one side some of the steepest chutes in New Zealand’s ski fields.
WHERE TO STAY
With staggering views over the Remarkables and perched just metres above Lake Wakatipu (and surrounded by pine forest), sleeping at Matakauri Lodge will make you feel completely isolated from the world. But the truth is you’re just a five minute drive from Queenstown, and just a further 25 minutes from the ski resorts of Coronet Peak and the Remarkables. With only 11 private suites (each suite offers mountain views from everywhere inside, even the bath), Matakauri is one of the southern hemisphere’s most exclusive ski lodges, complete with day spa. The property was re-opened in 2010 after an extensive refurbishment by interior designer Virginia Fisher.
RATES: From NZ$595 (about A$483) per person per night plus taxes including dinner and breakfast.
THE SPIRE HOTEL
The most remarkable aspect about this property is that it’s located right in the middle of Queenstown. From the moment you step inside this ultra-modern boutique hotel you’ll be transferred into a private oasis, with every whim catered for. The Spire Hotel offers 10 private suites – all with multi-media systems, stone fireplaces and private balconies…even a pillow menu. Meals are served in the hotel’s sophisticated restaurant downstairs, with a full a la carte breakfast offered as part of your tariff. Queenstown – the southern hemisphere’s most exciting ski town – is just outside, with buses departing regularly to the Remarkables and Coronet Peak ski areas.
RATES: From NZ$1,035 (about A$839) per night.
Firmly at the highest end of the scale, this lodge counts Ralph Lauren as a past customers. Azur comprises nine 75 square metre villas tucked away amid gardens in a tranquil Queenstown hillside setting overlooking the sweeping panorama of Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range. Enjoy the view while snuggled under a doona and 300-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets in the king-size bed, or from the bath tub set right under the window while listening to the surround sound system. Dine out or in, choosing from a local restaurant menu and having it delivered and served in your room on fine bone China. Just deluxe.
RATES: From NZ$1,050 (about A$852) per night plus taxes.
EICHARDT’S PRIVATE HOTEL
Queenstown is unquestionably the ski world’s prettiest village, and nowhere is better located to appreciate its aesthetic beauty than Eichardt’s. A New Zealand institution, Eichardt’s has occupied Queenstown’s prime real estate – just a few metres from Lake Wakatipu amongst the town’s café and restaurant precinct – for 146 years. You can stay in one of five luxury suites in the hotel, in one of four two-bedroom lakefront apartments or in the three-bedroom apartment,The Residence, with its stunning views over Queenstown Bay and the Remarkables. Ski resorts are located close by, while nearby Queenstown airport offers heli-skiing adventures.
RATES: Suites from NZ$1,639 (about A$1,329) per night and apartments from NZ$1,190 (about A$965) per night.
Located 25 minutes’ drive out of Queenstown, Millbrook Resort sits on 500 acres within a huge green valley dwarfed by towering mountain ranges on all sides. On the site of an 1860s wheat farm, Millbrook Resort offers 175 rooms ranging from studios to luxurious four-bedroom cottages. There’s also the region’s best equipped day spa, a health and fitness centre, restaurants and café, and a 27 hole golf course (Millbrook Resort has won Best Golf Resort in Australasia in the World Travel Awards for the past three years). It’s just a quick 25-minute drive along the back roads to Coronet Peak, while New Zealand’s best heritage gold mining town, Arrowtown, is a stroll away.
RATES: Studios from NZ$225 (about A$182) per night and cottages from NZ$555 (about A$450) per night.
THE MILLENNIUM HOTEL
Boutique hotels are par for the course in this part of the world and The Millennium is one of the best and friendliest. Many of the rooms and suites have views easily surpassing the majority of those available from other lodges simply due to its proximity to the shoreline and aspect. Queenstown’s best restaurants and bars aren’t too far from the Millennium’s front doors and should you wish to relax there is a full spa service menu.
RATES: Rooms from NZ$191 (about A$155) per night and suites from NZ$230 (about A$187) per night.
Sitting on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, most rooms have views over the lake to the Remarkables. Accommodations range from standard hotel rooms to one-, two-or three-bedroom apartments and right up to the lavish penthouses with up to five bedrooms, full kitchens, media rooms and outdoor spas. The Galley restaurant serves breakfast but you’ll need to head into town for other meals.
RATES: Rooms from NZ$179 (about A$145) per night and apartments from NZ$264 (about A$214) per night.
If, after a day in the snow, you crave some urban sophistication, an elegant bathroom where you can watch the flat screen while you bathe away your mountain bruises and a big, comfortable bed with some crisp linen to wrap you in, then beat a path to this door. Bars and restaurants are a stroll away, but if you want to stay in the hotel, the Nue Lounge is an intimate option and the bistro, Left Bank Cafe, will leave you well-fed.
RATES: Rooms from NZ$239 (about A$194) per night and suites from NZ$539 (about A$437) per night.
The Dairy is built around a 1920s corner store and the original building with its polished wooden floorboards remains the hub of the property. In winter the hosts serve up a home baked afternoon tea and mulled wine by the open fire when you return from the slopes.
RATES: Rooms from NZ$465 (about A$377) per night.
One of New Zealand’s best lodges, Blanket Bay is where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie chose to stay, as did Bill Gates, Robin Williams and even Gandalf himself: Sir Ian McKellen. Located in the shadow of the spectacular, snow-capped Southern Alps, Blanket Bay offers absolute isolation to guests in one of 12 luxury rooms, surrounded by Lake Wakatipu and empty farmland, half an hour’s drive from Queenstown and five minutes drive from the sleepy village of Glenorchy. Skiers can ride a helicopter from the lodge’s front lawn for heli-skiing expeditions in the mountains behind (the butler will even carry your skis or snowboard out), while Coronet Peak is an hour’s drive away.
RATES: From NZ$1,000 (about A$811) per night plus taxes including dinner and breakfast.
Staying here is like having your own home in Queenstown. This luxury three-bedroom (all ensuite) apartment has a large kitchen, French oak dining table, log fire, underfloor heating for the Otago schist floors, antique furnishings, library and a spa house with Jacuzzi shared with only three other apartments in the complex.
RATES: From NZ$725 (about A$588) per night for two people and NZ$75 (about A$61) per night for each extra person.
QUEENSTOWN PARK BOUTIQUE HOTEL
Queenstown’s newest boutique hotel opened in 2007 and is surrounded by parkland close to the city centre. Each of the 19 rooms has underfloor heating, a small kitchen and glass walled bathrooms. The hotel has a range of Central Otago wines and hampers of local produce if you want to stay in for the night.
RATES: Rooms from NZ$400 (about A$324) per night and suites from NZ$695 (about A$563) per night.
SNOW PARK/OTAG0 SOUTH ISLAND
Snow Park is a small freestyle terrain park just past Cardrona village. There is one chair lift and a rope tow that service the 40 plus rails, jumps and pipes for skiers and boarders. There are four luxury four-bedroom apartments at the base of the park, close enough to ski to the lifts, with four ensuites, full kitchen, open fire and large outdoor decks.
RATES: Apartments from NZ$680 (about A$551) per night.
This lodge is made up of four suites ranging from studio to two-bedroom that can be booked individually or together for exclusive use. It is 10 minutes from central Queenstown in the Wakatipu Basin with views of the Remarkables, Coronet Peak and the Crown Range. Manata is self-catering, but the hosts can stock your fridge and pantry before you arrive.
RATES: Studios from NZ$220 (about A$178) per night.
THE REES HOTEL
This stylish hotel is a mix of rooms and apartments with simple, contemporary interiors and custom New Zealand wool carpet. If you have a soft spot for Bordeaux then this is the property for you – there is a whole lounge dedicated to the French drop, an impressive collection of vintages and extensive tasting notes in the library.
RATES: Rooms from NZ$325 (about A$263) per night and apartments from NZ$455 (about A$369) per night.
Sitting just past the entrance to the Remarkables ski resort, this lodge has seven individually designed rooms. For more privacy stay in the The Garden suite adjacent to the house – it was originally the shepherds cottage and has a private patio and spa bath.
RATES: From NZ$745 (about A$604) per night including dinner and breakfast.
MT RUAPEHU/OHAKUNE NORTH ISLAND
This is New Zealand’s largest skiing area, made up of the only two commercial resorts in the North Island, Whakapapa and Turoa, on the northwestern and southwestern sides of the mountain respectively. There’s a colossal 4,400 acres of skiable terrain and New Zealand’s highest lift access at more than 2,300 metres. The mountain is still an active volcano and emits rumbilings and ash at times, but it does add to the excitement.
There are only three guestrooms at this luxury lodge on the banks of the Tongariro river, around an hour’s drive from the ski fields. The Admiral’s Room is the pick of them with its own private cedar hot tub and mini bar stocked with New Zealand wines and micro-brewery beers. If you’re in a larger group you can book the lodge out exclusively.
RATES: Rooms from NZ$460 (about A$373) per night.
MT HUTT/ CANTERBURY PLAINS, SOUTH ISLAND
This huge bowl-shaped resort with lovely views stretching back to Christchurch (and, on a clear day, the ocean) solved its main problem a few years ago by installing a six seater chairlift right to the top of the ski field, replacing two long, slow lifts. While the main bowl is mostly intermediate experts are kept busy on the South Face area around the back of the bowl, and atop the ski field on skier’s right in the The Pinnacles. One of Mt Hutt’s most spectacular features is the drive there, a long winding road with a sheer drop on one side. Fortunately skiers can take the efficient shuttle service and enjoy the view.
WHERE TO STAY
This large resort complex is 20 minutes from Mt Hutt on the edge of the Rakaia Gorge. Accommodation is in self-contained villa suites or fairway chalets – three- to four-bedroom homes spread around the golf course. There are three on-site restaurants and a full service spa.
RATES: Villa suites from NZ$540 (about A$438) per night and fairway chalets from NZ$1,200 (about A$973) per night.
BELUGA LUXURY LODGE
Imagine walking into the most perfectly kept home of a dear friend with every creature comfort from a well stocked library to the plushest and most comfortable of cosy rooms and you have found Beluga. This lodge was the first high end lodge in Methven, the closest town to Mt Hutt, and remains as so with an inimitable air of history and old time hospitality. Beluga is in one of Methven’s suburban streets, which adds to its charm and tranquility.
RATES: Rooms from NZ$230 (about A$186) per night and suites from NZ$260 (about A$211) per night.