Maria Honey suggests heading south for a cool holiday and to create epic family memories
Wrap ’em up warm, fill ’em up with wholesome food, hit the slopes and teach ’em how to ski or board. We guarantee you’ll have happy kids, and you’ll certainly have happy teens in years to come.
Central Otago has four big ski fields: Cardrona, Treble Cone, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. They are all within two hours drive of one another, so you can easily access all four in one holiday. Otherwise, buy passes that combine two of the fields, giving you a discount and flexibility for best weather and snow preference on the day.
Cardrona is outstanding for kids’ lessons and boasts fabulous, groomed runs with amazing park-rat action to watch. We loved the dining options and the general ease for families in this resort. Our kids learnt (and earnt) their skiing stripes here for five years running in snow school. They’d spend all week with the same crew and have made lifelong friends.
Treble Cone has smaller queues and epic powder on the Saddle. The powder-vibe of this resort is unmatched, and once the kids have more snow confidence, you might find this becomes their everyday happy place. It’s where your good skills get even better!
Head to The Remarkables (theremarkables.co.nz) for plenty of powder, a boutique vibe, ski or board lessons, and eight fun park options (yes, really!). Plus, the famous spiral tunnel is accessible from late July. The view is jaw-dropping – you could quite easily sip on hot chocolate in the Ice Bar all day just admiring the environment.
You can’t go past Coronet Peak for vast valleys of snow to explore, with earlybird and late night options complete with live music (the teens love it!). Coronet Peak has easy road access and their newbies area is definitely worth a visit.
Top Tips for Gearing Up
1. Wear merino socks and under-layers. It’s warm, breathable, and requires less washing.
2. Ensure the kids don’t have their pants, thermals or socks bunched in their boots. It can be uncomfortable.
3. Balaclavas work well as a hat and neck warmer combined. They warm the whole head and don’t get caught up in the helmet catch.
4. Make sure the children’s gloves are warm and waterproof and take a spare pair for snow-play.
5. Invest in a Thermic Dryer for gloves and boots (particularly if there’s no drying room where you’re staying).
6. Make sure children have enough gear for the coldest weather and the chill factor on the chair lifts. Remember, babies aren’t moving around or skiing, so they need lots of layers.
7. To avoid ‘rush hour’ and to enjoy quiet chair lifts without a queue, plan to have lunch at 11.30am and get back on the snow when everyone else is coming in for lunch.
8. Skiing or snowboarding can be tiring for little ones, so consider a half-day or maybe a day off in between.
9. Helmets (aka brain buckets) are a must for everyone.
10. Hire a ute from Go Rental. The hard top tray carries all your bags, skis, boots… and easily travels up snowy mountains. The price was really reasonable too!
Jetstar flies from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to Queenstown.
Want more travel tips and ideas? Check out our Travel NZ With Kids Facebook group where you can get immediate answers to travel questions from parents in-the-know!