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Ultimate Ski Road trip to Wanaka

The region of Central Otago transforms into a winter wonderland when the chill sets in and the snow starts to fall. Travellers from around the world flock to the mountain towns of Queenstown and Wanaka to get their skiing and snowboarding fix. This region of New Zealand has so much to offer during winter.

Spend your days skiing down mountains and your evenings unwinding by the fire. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your next ski trip, we’ve got you covered. We’ve put together this 10-day action-packed road trip, telling you the best places to visit in the South Island. Let’s dive into it.

Travel

10 days


Route

Queenstown to Queenstown

km


Best Time of the Year

June-August

Highlights

  • The Remarkables
  • Coronet Peak
  • Treble Cone

The Journey

Days

1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10

Day 1
Queenstown

To kick off your adventure, pick up your Mighty camper at our Queenstown branch.

As the adventure capital of the world, there are plenty of things to do in Queenstown. But before you explore, it's worthwhile gearing up for the days ahead. If you need to hire any skiing gear, head to Snow Rental. They offer some incredibly affordable ski and board rentals, starting at NZD$27 per day. They also have all the other snow essentials such as pants, gloves, goggles, helmets and more for hire.

Once you have your gear sorted, spend some time walking around this beautiful mountain town. Grab lunch at the world-famous Fergburger and wander to see the beautiful Lake Wakatipu. Then stock up on groceries so you can take advantage of the onboard camper kitchen to make yummy (and cost-effective) campervan meals during the trip.

Where to stay: Park up at the Queenstown TOP 10 Holiday Park for the night. This holiday park is a great base for the next few days of exploring.

 

Image source: QueenstownNZ.co.nz

Day 2
The Remarkables

Get your legs warmed up with a day up at the Remarkables Ski Area. This mountain features four chairlifts and covers a whopping 385 hectares of terrain. The Remarkables also features a massive learners area. This is a great place to refamiliarise yourself on the slopes if it's been a while or to take a lesson to learn how to ski or snowboard.

Mighty campervans aren’t able to drive up the mountain, but you can easily catch the shuttle bus from the bottom of the access road on Duke Street. Located 40-minutes from Queenstown, this ride is perfect to sit and catch up on some reading or simply grab a window seat and marvel at the views as you climb to the top.

Where to stay: Queenstown TOP 10 Holiday Park.

Image source: Destination Queenstown

Day 3
Coronet Peak

It's time for day two on the slopes, this time heading to Queenstown’s local mountain, Coronet Peak. Park your camper in Man Street Car Park and catch the Coronet Peak Ski Shuttle departing from Memorial Street in Queenstown. The shuttle runs every 30-minutes on a first-in, first-served basis and costs around NZD$20 for a return trip.

After a short and scenic 25-minute bus ride, you will arrive at the base of Coronet Peak. This resort features a variety of terrain - all with epic views over the Wakatipu Basin. Here you can shred the day away and finish it off with a night ski. Watch this view come alive at sunset and disappear into the darkness as the ski fields light up from 4 pm to 9 pm.

Where to stay: Queenstown TOP 10 Holiday Park.

Day 5
Wanaka

Distance 111km - Driving Time 1 hour 26 minutes

Today it's time to relocate and explore Wanaka. Start the day with a 20-minute drive to the scenic gold rush town of Arrowtown. This Instagram-worthy stop comes alive in autumn, but it is equally magic in the deep of winter. While in town, explore the historic Arrowtown Chinese Settlement and grab a bite to eat at The Fork And Tap. Once you have had your fill, head back to the camper and drive the remaining 52 minutes to Wanaka.

Wanaka is one of New Zealand’s premier destinations to shred some powder and is the only town in the Southern Hemisphere to receive a mention in National Geographic’s World’s 25 Best Ski Towns. With five international ski areas to choose from and the largest heli-skiing area outside North America, shredding in and around Wanaka is a must for anybody looking to plan a ski trip in New Zealand. If you need any ski or snowboard gear before a few days up on the surrounding mountains, head to Green Toad. They are open late until 9 pm all winter, so you will have plenty of time to get all the gear you need.

Where to stay: Base yourself at the Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park for the next few days.

Day 6
Cardrona Alpine Resort

Distance 35km - Driving Time 40 minutes

Get ready for a day of adventure at the Cardrona Alpine Resort. Situated around 35 minutes drive south of Wanaka, Cardrona has some of the most consistent snowfall and alpine runs in the South Island. This is largely thanks to its south-facing location and high elevation. Cardrona is the ultimate winter playground. Here beginners can take lessons on the newly redesigned runs, and advanced skiers and snowboarders can make the most of the mountain. If freestyle is your jam, check out Cardrona Parks. With four Terrain Parks, two Halfpipes (including a 22ft Olympic Superpipe), a Big Air, and a Gravity-Cross course, the region is a mecca for freestylers.

You can get the free Pine Trees Shuttle Bus from Wanaka to the Cardrona Alpine Resort or drive to the access road and jump in one of the shuttle buses. After a day on the slopes, head to the historic Cardrona Hotel. Settle in at the legendary beer garden and soak up the atmosphere at one of New Zealand’s oldest hotels.

Where to stay: Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park.

Day 7
Wanaka

Wanaka is a winter wonderland nestled on the shores of the picturesque Lake Wanaka and set against towering snow-capped mountains. Wanaka is a must-see in New Zealand, offering some of the South Island’s best skiing. Take a break from the mountains and spend the day exploring the town.

The first stop is a wine tasting at Rippon. Set against a backdrop of the moody Southern Alps and Lake Wanaka, there is no better place to sample the fine wine of Central Otago. These are by appointment only, so be sure to book ahead. Once you're done, head back into town to sample the famous pies from The Doughbin Bakery to fuel up for an afternoon walk. The Diamond Lake and Rocky Mountain Track offer several walks of varying lengths and difficulty. Regardless of which you choose, you will be treated to views overlooking Lake Wanaka. End this jam-packed day with an interactive dinner at Hook. At this lake-to-plate salmon fishing experience, you can go catch your dinner, and the team on site will prepare it for you. Talk about fresh!

Where to stay: Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park.

Image source: TNZ Visual library - Miles Holden

Day 8
Treble Cone

Distance 29.8km - Driving Time 38 minutes

Today’s the day to tackle the South Island’s largest ski and snowboard resort: Treble Cone. Hosting over 550ha of wild terrain, Treble Cone is the largest ski region in the South Island and offers the longest vertical in the Southern Lakes (at 700m) as well as beautiful uncrowded trails.

Beginners can carve up the white stuff on the FREE surface lift to the ‘Nice n’ Easy’ Platter, while experienced skiers and snowboarders can take the legendary off-piste terrain of Motatapu Chutes and Saddle Basin. For those after a more spiritual experience with the mountains, Aspiring Guides has one-day guided backcountry tours that will no doubt be a memorable experience.

Like Cardrona, Treble Cone has a run, a lift and a leg burner to suit all experience levels and if you want to experience all of the slopes in the region, combine both mountains to save. This pass gives you access to eight of the best ski areas in the South Island and will ensure you avoid the queues as well as protect your pennies. Once you’re back in Wanaka, make your way to Rhyme & Reason. With over 12 taps of beers, local ciders and nibbles, this is the perfect après-ski activity.

Where to stay: Wanaka Lakeview Holiday Park.

Day 9
Queenstown

Distance 111km - Driving Time 1hr 26 minutes

Enjoy a rest day from the slopes as you continue on your South Island itinerary loop back to Queenstown. When you arrive, enjoy brunch at the colourful Yonder. Easily spotted by the vibrant neon lights and lush green ivy climbing the walls. This travel-inspired menu is bound to delight. Then roam through the Queenstown gardens, followed by drinks with the best view in town at Kamana Lakehouse.

Where to stay: Stay another night at Queenstown TOP 10 Holiday Park.

Day 10
Queenstown

Before you return your Mighty camper to the Queenstown Branch, soak up the final views of Queenstown. Tick the Queenstown Hill Loop off your list, and be sure to have your camera ready! This 1.5km tramp up Te Tapunui winds through pine forests and ends by breaking through the tree line. Here you will be able to reminisce on the trip past: looking out towards the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu. Allow 2-3 hours for this round trip. Once you’re done, it's time to return your camper to the Queenstown Mighty branch and bring this incredible Southern Island road trip to a close.

Ready to book your next Wanaka ski trip?

The Southern Alps are a mecca for skiing and boarding adventures. But there are also so many incredible places to visit and things to do in the South Island. What better way to experience it all than with a South Island road trip.

Ready to book your ski road trip to visit Wanaka and the Southern Alps? Check out our latest deals and book your mighty campervan online today.

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