Going to Queenstown to Ski? Need some tips to make it cheaper? Be my guest….
Skiing or snowboarding is not a cheap hobby. This is for sure. When winter comes round, and the slopes start opening it is hard to resist parting with some cash and heading to the mountains. It is always well worth it and skiing is one of the most fun things in the world but wouldn’t it be fun if it was cheaper!
My friend Clare and I recently chose Queenstown as a meeting point between Melbourne and Wellington for a wee ski holiday and it was wonderful.
Unfortunately, I can’t magic a way of making this pricey activity super cheap. NZ is a pretty expensive place as it is, and cost of living is a big issue for many. SO, if you are thinking of heading to Qtown to ski, but worried about the costs, here are a few tips for how to go skiing in Queenstown on a budget. And also some general tips for a successful ski holiday.
Oh, and if you are heading to Queenstown, you’re really going to want to check out my interview with Queenstown Life’s Jane Guy to get all her tips for how to do Queenstown like a local: Top Queenstown Blogger, Jane Guy and the Queenstown Must Do’s
How to have a great ski trip in Queenstown without breaking the bank:
Stay in a Hostel
The hostels in Queenstown are actually pretty nice and quiet. I stayed in Adventure Hostel, which is right in the center of town and costs $40 per night in a 4 bed dorm. Hostels might seem like an awful idea to many, but this one was actually pretty lovely. Super central and small and with great facilities, it is worth saving money by doing this so you can have more time on the slopes.
People of all ages stay in these hostels and they are very safe and welcoming. Another one I have experience with was the Flaming Kiwi, a little bit less central but also very quiet, clean and friendly. Stay clear of Base Backpackers, if you don’t like the party vibes.
Try Jucy Car Rentals
Hiring a car might seem like a big expense, but it is more than worth it if you are flying in to this area of the country. Allowing you to drive your self up to the slopes whenever you want and also taking trips out to Glenorchy and Wanaka. If you want to ski the best mountain in this area, Treble Cone, it is much easier if you have a car to take you there.
There is no super cheap way of hiring a car but I can say that Jucy Car Rentals offer Ski 4 Free, which means one free Treble Cone day pass for every day you have the car. This saves you $110 dollars if you go there (which you should).
Hire equipment in advance
Without a doubt, hire your skis and boots and helmet from Queenstown itself. It is almost half the price of hiring it up on the mountain. We hired ours from Snow Rental, and if you do this in advance and buy it online, you also save 30%. Try and cobble together ski clothing by borrowing from friends if you can. But if you cant, no fear, you can hire all of this as well, saving a lot more than if you had to buy it all.
Think carefully about lift passes
There are very little tips and tricks for saving money on your ski lift pass that I know about (apart from the Jucy car rental Ski 4 Free, see above) But one way of saving time, is to buy your pass the night before, as well as your ski hire. That way, you don’t have to mess around in the morning before your skiing to sort it all out. Also, take your ski pass back to the seller and get your $5 deposit back.
Some of you might disagree, but unless you are in town for a whole week and you want to ski locally in rain or shine, don’t buy a weekly pass. You can consider waiting and buying daily passes, or just going out for an afternoon or morning. This way, you can ski many different mountains, including Treble Cone and Cardrona, which are separate from the two main local ones, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. Here, you also save money on the morning and afternoons when you don’t want to go out. If you are there for a whole week, consider whether this will make it cheaper and better for you and you can ski where you want, when you feel like it.
Check out the webcams
All the resorts have webcams so you can see real time what the weather is like as well as how busy it is up there. Weather reports for the area can be inaccurate but the webcam tells the truth. It is also worth asking the locals where they recommend for that day as they are usually living in the town for the mountain and have their finger on the pulse in that way. This way, you don’t make a mistake and buy a lift pass, get up there and you cant see anything.
Plan your lunch
Its good to know that the food and drink available up on the mountain in NZ, is pretty varied and not wildly crazy in price. So you can buy food on the hill. But lots of people brought packed lunches. Good if there is a big group of you. Make sure you head to Pack&Save to buy it and don’t get it from the 4 Square right in town which is very expensive. This is a good idea if you have a car, because you can then leave your lunch in your car while you ski and don’t have to have a backpack.
Go to Treble Cone
This is probably the most beautiful view from any ski resort, in the world maybe! It looks out over Lake Wanaka while you are skiing and it is simply stunning. Treble Cone also has an awesome area called Cloud 9 with powdery snow, like a little adventure land. It was so great, well worth the hour trip from Queenstown. The day pass is also $10 cheaper and you can get a free day pass if you have a jucy rental car.
You only need snow chains for a 2 wheeler vehicle, not for a 4 wheeler. Even if you don’t need them on a particular day to go up the mountain, you are supposed to carry them in case the weather changes or the mud is really bad. Consider this and you can usually add them on to your car rental.
Skiing at night by floodlight with beers and music happens at Coronet Peak. I didn’t try it but its supposed to be awesome. One tip is that if you buy a daily pass (Coronet Peak and Treble Cone) and you clock in after 12:30, you will be able to ski through the night skiing until 9 too without having to pay the $70 extra for the pass.
Cheap Evening Drinks
Going for drinks in Queenstown is full of endless choice. There are many many bars and some of them are cheap and a bit rubbish. But I have tried and tested a few that are both reasonable and also good. These are them:
- Rhino – This is a cool little ski shack Apres-ski bar on the main drag. Decorated like a French Chalet, and with a chilled out vibe its a great place to go after the mountain and grab a mulled wine.
- Atlas Bar –Near the harbour front, this is a locals favourite for steak and chips. Also serving good beer, with a good locals atmosphere
- Red Rock – Needs a make over but a locals favourite. Not the best food but $5 pints and a good atmosphere. They also do an all day breakfast for $10.
- Cowboy Bar – This is for a party vibe only. Its fun though. They have a bucking bronco, a strange table hockey thing which I don’t know the name of (does anyone know the name of this) and generally music and drinking. If you are not after a rowdy party, don’t go here.
Cheap Evening Eats
Some places you can head to in Queenstown to eat will serve stunning food but if you are after something good for Apres ski that is just cheap and good, I have tried and tested the following, all within the town:
- Yakitori Daruma Sake Bar – Awesome vibe inside, serving authentic Japanese food with a $16 daily ramen. Its amazing and super cosy and lovely. May be worth booking.
- The Cow Restaurant – This is such a cosy little place for apres ski. With an open fire and great selection of beer and red wine and huge pizzas, it will satisfy anyone after a day on the hill
- Cibre Latin Kitchen – For cheap and authentic south tacos, burritos and amazing arepas. This is cheap and chearful take away vibe in good quality.
Those are my quick fire tips for skiing in Queenstown on a budget. I hope they help keep your costs down and have wonderful trip!
Thanks for Reading