First Time Skiing in Queenstown: Remarkables Ski Field

First time skiing at the Remarkables Queenstown

You can’t visit Queenstown in winter and not visit a skifield.  If its your first time skiing in Queenstown or your first time skiing ever, then we have all the information you need to know to have an epic day on the mountain.

If you’re a parent like me, skiing can be a bit of a mission, but if you prepare well, then you will be well ahead of the game.

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Table of Contents

Where are the Remarkables, Queenstown?

 

The Remarkables are one of the incredible Queenstown ski fields in the Southern Alps region in the South Island of New Zealand.  It is one of 4 ski fields in the Queenstown/Wanaka area and is operated by NZSki, which also own Coronet Peak (Queenstown) and Mt Hutt (Methven/Christchurch region)

The Remarkables are in the Frankton area of Queenstown, not terribly far from Queenstown Airport and the Frankton industrial area. (well the turnoff is, then you have the ski road to contend with)

Nathan wears blue Therm ski gear at the Remarkables in Queenstown

Where to stay in Queenstown

 

It really isn’t necessary to stay really close to the Remarkables ski field.  It is an easy drive or bus to get there, however if you do want to be on the mountain super early or nab the best carparks, I would consider the Frankton Area, Kawarau Falls, or Jacks Point and Hanleys Farm if you are using an Airbnb.

Unlike in Europe or North America, there are no Queenstown ski resorts where you can stay on the Remarkables mountain.  So here are a few Queenstown accommodation options where we have stayed before.

 

Budget Accommodation, Queenstown

YHA Queenstown Lakeview

The Lakeview YHA Queenstown hostel is a great place for budget minded travelers.  With Queenstown known for being notoriously expensive, there are single beds available from $32 per night (2021) and private rooms $92 for a double, with larger bunk rooms and family room available too.

We stayed in a 6 bed private room with lake views and it was perfect. Plenty of storage and space for the kids, warm bathrooms and a huge kitchen to cook a family meal.

Click here for the best prices at the YHA Queenstown Lakefront hostel

YHA Queenstown Lakeview
Queenstown Lakeview YHA

Top 10 Holiday Park Queenstown

You can’t go past the Top 10 Holiday Park Queenstown if you are looking for cheap accommodation in Queenstown.  If you aren’t into camping or campervanning, they do have motels units and cabins for a reasonable price too.  Top 10 Holiday Parks are great for activities for the kids (we have stayed in other locations) as they have on site playgrounds, jumping pillow, movie room and a hot tub.

Check out their prices of their family friendly accommodation here

If you are looking for super cheap camping in Queenstown, then head down to the DOC campsites at 12 Mile Delta or the Moke Lake campsite.  These are further from town, with only toilets for facilities but if you have your own camper, that might be all you need.

Mid Range Accommodation: Garden Court Suites and Apartments

We chose the Garden Court Suites and Apartments for our first Queenstown holiday.  We loved how close it was to town and we walked everywhere.  It had a full kitchen as we cooked often (easier with a baby) and we had undercover parking (great for winter). 

The Queenstown ski bus can also pick up from across the road which is ideal

Check out the latest prices here

 

Luxury Accommodation: Platinum Queenstown Apartments

We stayed in a three bedroom apartment at the Platinum Queenstown Apartments and had such a great stay.  It was a 5 minute drive to central Queenstown up on the hill with amazing views.  The apartment was very modern, had a full kitchen and plenty of space to relax.  We loved the ranch slider opening onto the grassy lawn for the kids to play on.  (see photo below)

The Queenstown Ski Bus runs past this accommodation so you can just walk outside in the morning and collect the bus.  No issues with parking or walking from the carpark.

Click here for the latest prices at Platinum here

Nathan rides his bike outside Platinum Apartments Queenstown

Luxury Accommodation:  Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown

I have to include Millbrook Resort, even though it is 20 minutes away in Arrowtown because the accommodation was just so relaxing and luxurious.  The golf resort accommodation gives you access to a swimming pool, fitness centre with classes, a spa and restaurants, so is a great break away.  We finished our stay here and explored all the things to do in Arrowtown. 

In terms of how close it is to the Remarkables, Millbrook is a similar distance from central Queenstown to the mountain.

Easily one of the best places to stay in Queenstown, so find a deal on Millbrook resort here

View of Millbrook Resort - one of the best places to stay in Queenstown 
Some other family accommodation in Queenstown that our friends have recommended to us (but we haven’t stayed in yet)
Emilia (3) and Nathan (7) ski together on the beginner slopes at the Remarkables Ski Area Queenstown

How to get to the Remarkables Ski Field

 

The best way to get to the Remarkables Ski Area Queenstown are either by ski bus or by private vehicle.  

 

Queenstown to Remarkables Ski Field by Bus

You have two options for the Remarkables Ski Bus.

  1. Get picked up on the Accommodation bus that picks up from major hotels/motels/hostels and takes you to the Remarkables.  This is a bookable bus and needs to be booked in advance ($25 per adults, 2021)
  2. Take the Express Bus from the Queenstown City Centre ($15 in 2021)
 

Accommodation Bus vs Express Bus to Remarkables Ski Resort

While the accommodation bus is more expensive, you are guaranteed a seat on the bus and are likely to be picked up right outside the door to your accommodation.  Compare this to the City Centre express bus, where you have to queue up and wait.

We made this mistake, not realising, as the line curved around the street, that we would have to wait for 3 buses before we could hop on.  

Queenstown parking is also at a minimum so if your accommodation is not easily walkable to the Remarkables bus stop, then you will have to carry your gear all the way there, or get it dropped off.

Tip for families:  Get the accommodation bus so you don’t have to cart the kids and all the gear all the way to the bus stop, or get one of the parents to do a mad dash back.  In 2021, kids 7 and under are free on the Remarkables bus, so this is a great option.

 

Booking the Remarkables Bus

 

Tips for booking

  1. You must have a NZSki Remarkables myPass card.  This card will be the same for Coronet Peak, the Remarkables and Mt Hutt ski field.  If you already have a card from one of these other ski fields, it will work here too
  2. If you have a physical pass, you can login to (or setup) your myPass account and load your bus ticket onto your card.  You will need to have everyone’s individual cards load these.  If this is too hard, you can head into the Queenstown Snow Centre in the centre of Queenstown and do it in person there
  3. If you don’t have a card yet, then head into the Queenstown Snow Centre and get setup there.  You can purchase your lessons and lift passes right then and there, so you don’t have to wait in lines when you arrive at the mountain.
 

Driving by private vehicle

You can drive your own vehicle up the Remarkables ski road and there is parking available.  It is free to park at the ski carparks.  It is advisable to have chains to drive up the ski road and on occasion this may not be necessary.

Everyday, the Remarkables weather report (found on the Remarkables website) will be updated with the road conditions.  If you have a rental car, you will definitely want to pick up chains with your hire.

Wide angle of beginners ski area and magic carpet tube in Queenstown New Zealand ski area

Hire ski gear at the Remarkables or rent ski gear in Queenstown?

 

Pros of hiring ski gear on the mountain

  • You don’t have to carry your gear up the mountain
  • If you have any issues, you can swap it right then and there
  • You can store your hire gear at the Remarkables overnight if you are coming back the next day
 

Cons of hiring ski gear on the mountain

  • More expensive
  • Have to wait in line when you arrive at the Remarkables
 

Pros of hiring ski gear in Queenstown

  • Cheaper
  • Ski rental decreases the longer you hire
  • Can get good packages/deals in Queenstown
  • Many ski rental stores to choose from
  • More time on the mountain as you don’t have to wait in line when you arrive
 

Cons of hiring ski gear in Queenstown

  • You have to transport your ski gear up to the mountain, either by bus or car
  • If you have any issues or want to change sizes etc, you cannot change then and there
 

Tips for families: Hiring ski gear

We recommend hiring our ski gear in Queenstown.  You can go into a rental store the day before and spend time trying on your gear, without feeling like you are wasting valuable ski time on the mountain.

In 2021, Browns Ski Shop has a great deal for kids.  For every set of ski or snowboard gear, one child under 10 years old will get their full kit FREE.  All kids under 18 also get a helmet hire free of charge

View of the learner and beginners slopes at the Remarkables Queenstown NZ

Cost of the Remarkables Ski Passes

 

A one off day pass to ski at the Remarkables can be pretty pricey, however the price reduces if you buy multiple days

For example, 2021 prices for a Remarkables lift pass for adults (full mountain) is $139 for one day, but $99 per day for 3 days or more.

 

Remarkables Season Passes and Deals

If you are organised and plan on skiing in Queenstown for a week or two, I highly recommend the early bird 3 peak pass.  In 2021, it was $699 for a season pass at the Remarkables and Coronet Peak (both Queenstown) as well as Mt Hutt

 

Kids under 8 are free (2021)

Yes you read that right, in 2021, kids who are 7 and under get a free lift pass which is an awesome way to get the kids into swimming or snowboarding.

You will however need to get the kids a myPass card so they can load the free lift pass onto the card.  The card will cost $5, but there are no other costs you need to pay.  

 

Queenstown Ski Packages

If you need ski hire and lessons for a few days, then you might want to consider a Queenstown ski package.  These can be purchased directly from the Remarkables NZ website and offer deals such as a 4 day intro to snow package or a starter package.

Emilia from Backyard Travel Family, wearing a pink ski hement and ski jacket, sits on a picnic table at the Remarkables ski field Queenstown NZ

Skiing the Remarkables Queenstown for First time and Beginner Skiers

 

The Remarkables is a great place to learn to ski.  One thing we really liked was how close it was to the cafe and seating area.  Parents will love being so close to the seating, allowing easy access for the kids to rest, or a great viewing platform for watching their lessons.

There are three areas that are perfect for beginners who have never skied before (for beginner lift info, scroll down)  The Remarkables have magic carpets in all of these areas.  A magic carpet is like a travelator you might see at an airport, with a gentle incline.

Take a look at the very beginners area.  Very first lessons take place here.  Its very gentle and safe for kids and adults alike.  Once you can stop, you can progress to the next two areas

There are two large beginner slopes.  The first is gentler and the second a little steeper.  I really like at the top of the steepest beginner slope, that you can actually join a real beginners run about ¾ of the way down.  It’s a great step to skiing a steeper slope without having to take the chairlift.

Leaner slopes and beginners ski area at the Remarkables Ski Field Queenstown

Chairlifts

The Remarkables has one of the best varieties of beginners terrain that I have seen at a commercial field.  My boys are 5 and 7 and they are running beginner (green) and intermediate (blue) trails and there are so many options.  We will definitely be coming back here so they can ride the range of trails.

If you’re new to skiing, and you’re trying to workout if this skifield is for you, here are the colour meanings

Green = Beginner

Blue = Intermediate

Red = Advanced

Black = Expert

 

Intermediate – Expert Runs

They have a great variety of runs here, so if your kids have experienced or you have older children, then you will really love the Remarkables.

Part way down the Curvey Basin intermediate run, you will also find the Ice Bar.  You have a selection of drinks to choose from and even a hot sausage sizzle if you’re lucky.

Check out the trail map below

First time Skiing in Queenstown, Emilia from Backyard Travel Family stands on the magic carpet in the snow dome at the Remarkables NZ
Two children skiing at the Remarkables in Queenstown with the chairlifts behind them
People standing in line waiting for the dual magic carpet conveyor for the beginner slopes at the Remarkables Ski field, Queenstown, New Zealand

Snow Play, Remarkables Ski Area

There is a small snow play area which is perfect for kids who want a first touch of the snow, or need to take a break from lessons.  You will find it to the far right of the beginner areas, up the stairs next to the Shadow Basin Lift.  It is not marked in the Remarkables Terrain Map.

At the Remarkables Snow Play area you can toboggan down the small hills. Either bring your own sled, or hire one from guest services in the main building.  

Be aware that the snow play for kids is just a small area, better suited for young kids, as opposed to sledding thrill seekers.  I wouldn’t head up the mountain especially for this, but for young ones who are there with the family, it’s a good little activity.

Snow play area at the Remarkables Ski Area in Queenstown is a good place for kids to use sleds and toboggans

Sightseeing

 

One of the best things about the Remarkables are the amazing views, but you only really get to see them if you head up to the top of the chair lifts.  If you want to see them, but don’t ski, then you can get a sightseeing pass.  

 

This pass will give you access to the chairlift, where you can then walk to the viewpoint.  You will need suitable shoes for this walk and it is usually only available in the early afternoon.  So check in for timings when you buy a sightseeing pass from Guest Services in the main building.

 
Image Credit: Destination Queenstown

Facilities at the Remarkables New Zealand

The Remarkables have a great range of facilities and I really liked their base area.  The main building is modern and airy and there was plenty of seating when we visited on a busy school holidays weekday

Here are their facilities onsite

  • Restaurant and Cafe food and drink
  • 2 bars including the Ice Bar on the mountain itself
  • Indoor Toilet
  • Indoor and Outdoor Seating and picnic tables
  • Ski/Snowboard Hire
  • Ski/Snowboard/Gear Shop
Inside the cafe and restaurant at the Remarkables ski field in Queenstown, New Zealand

Things we really liked

  • How close the beginner slopes were to the seating
  • The range of terrain
  • Great areas to transition from learning to beginner ski lifts
  • Nice quiet deck area out the back of the main building
  • Dual magic carpets so the lines don’t take too long
  • Loved being able to book everything in Queenstown so we didn’t have to waste time on the mountain

Things we didn’t like

  • If you book the bus from Queenstown City Centre the actual buses aren’t bookable.  You have to wait in line and it’s first in, first served.  We would have waited about 30 minutes or so and I had no idea.
  • Snow play area was tiny.  Good as a little activity to break up skiing, but not worth the effort on its own.
Hot food at the Remarkables ski area, Queenstown NZ
Outside deck area and trampoline at the Remarkables ski field restaurant and cafe area
Inside the restaurant at the Remarkables ski area, Queenstown
Main restaurant and cafe building at the Remarkables Queenstown NZ

Visiting at Peak Times: School Holidays or on Sunny Weekends

 

A few tips if you are visiting when it is super busy

  • Buy your ski passes and gear in Queenstown prior to visiting the ski field so you don’t have to wait in line
  • Book your ski lessons early and in advance.  Kids ski lessons can book out over the school holidays
  • If you are driving, they will often limit car parking in the upper carparks to those with 3 or more passengers.  So carpool if you can or take the bus so you don’t have to worry.  They do have a free shuttle from the lower carparks up to the Remarkables base.

More things to do in Queenstown

If you are spending some time visiting Queenstown and Wanaka, you may be interested in these articles

Jennifer

Jennifer

Founder of Backyard Travel Family

Jen is a super organiser when it comes to travel. Having travelled extensively in Europe and Africa, has lived in London and the USA and holidayed in many parts of Asia, she is not a newbie to the travel space

Jen has three young children, 7 and under and travels around New Zealand with them.

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what you need to know

Travel

- 35 minutes drive from Queenstown (central)
- Take a ski bus from central Queenstown or the hotel pick up bus

The skifield

- Great learners area! Perfect for kids who are learning and first timers
- 30% beginner trails, 40% intermediate trails and 30% advanced trails
- Childcare facilities on site
- Ski and snowboard hire
- Group and private lessons available

Suitable for kids?

Suitable for all kids

Young babies will need a solution for keeping warm and dry, either in the childcare facilities, stroller or backpack/frontpack.

Facilities

- Cafe
- 2 bars
- Hot Coffee and Food
- Toilets
- Indoor cafe seating area which is warm
- Outdoor picnic tables on the verandah
- Ski/Snowboard Hire/Boots/Clothing
- Free parking
- Snow play area
- Sightseeing

What to bring

- Lots of clothes including waterproof pants and jacket
- Waterproof shoes/boots
- Waterproof gloves
- Sunglasses/goggles and sunscreen
- Lots of food or money to purchase
- A positive attitude and a lot of patience - Chains for your vehicle

Food options

- Cafe food and hot drinks on site
- Closest supermarket and food options, in Frankton, not far from the bottom of the ski access road

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