Skiing in Coronet Peak

Coronet Peak Ski Area

Coronet Peak is a classic all round ski area with plenty of runs for most grades of skiers and boarders, and with a strong emphasis on intermediate skiing and boarding.

Coronet Peak’s 280 hectare ski area has more skiable terrain than the figure might suggest. Marty Sharpe makes the point in his Guide to the Ski Areas of New Zealand that “unlike many areas, which lie in concave terrain (basins or bowls) Coronet Peak is spread across the side of the mountain and has a more convex shape”. There are thus “seemingly limitless” ways down.

While only 25% of its 692 acres is rated as suitable for beginners, nearly half the runs (45%) are for intermediate skiers and a further 30% for stronger skiers and riders.

Although Coronet Peak is New Zealand’s lowest lying recognised ski resort, both in terms of its base area and summit, the ski resort has a greater percentage of total terrain covered by snowmaking than any other ski resort in the southern hemisphere.

As part of a NZD30 million redevelopment, Coronet Peak’s base area was demolished and rebuilt in 2008, and is now reopened and renamed as JSD’s Lodge, after Board chairman, John Stratton Davies. Tastefully in keeping with its surroundings, the new base building is home to a large restaurant and café area. The spacious meeting place has floor to ceiling windows providing views of the slopes and the Wakatipu Basin.

A number of amenities are located beneath the Coronet Peak Café & Restaurant, including the Coronet Peak Snowsports School and a full ski and snowboard rental service.

The Big Easy, M1 and Shirtfront pistes are open until 9pm on Friday and Saturday nights as part of the popular night skiing on offer at Coronet Peak. The trails are fully floodlit from top to bottom, and the restaurant stays open for the duration of the evening.

Coronet Peak Beginner Skiing

There’s only one obvious place where beginners will want to head for at Coronet Peak – Meadows, the large area to the skiers’ left near the base area.

Coronet Peak’s Meadows area consists of a beginners’ tow rope, two magic carpets (one of which is claimed to be the second longest in the world at 146m) and the slow Meadows double chair serving runs like The Big Easy.

Just 15 per cent of Coronet Peak’s terrain is classified as suitable for beginners, who will have to make the most of the Meadows area as progression up the mountain requires a readiness to tackle blue runs.

Happily, there are some gentle intermediate runs for beginners to progress onto. The M1 is populated with inexperienced skiers and ski school groups, while the Easy Rider run to the left of the Rocky Gully T-bar is as gentle as the name suggests. There are also numerous slow zones to help ease beginners onto the mountain.

Coronet Peak Intermediate Skiing

Nearly half of Coronet Peak’s ski area is designated for intermediates, though in reality virtually the whole mountain is intermediate-friendly and includes a selection of intermediate runs across the ski area, with a choice of blue runs at the top of all four of the resorts main lifts.

The M1 piste is the busiest and longest run in the ski area, and is popular with intermediates. The Easy Rider and Aeroplane runs to the right of the ski area are similarly gentle but less busy. Inexperienced intermediates will be comforted by the numerous slow zones dotted around the ski area.

More experienced intermediates may prefer the network of blue runs surrounding the M1, thus avoiding the slow moving traffic. Similarly, there are a number of less busy blue runs to the left of the ski area, with intermediates likely to enjoy the long Sarah Sue cruiser.

With so many blue runs to choose from, intermediates can’t really go wrong at Coronet Peak. The only areas to be avoided are the Back Bowls and the Race Arena.

Coronet Peak Advanced & Expert Skiing

Around 30 per cent of Coronet Peak’s terrain is classified as suitable for advanced skiers. Much of this more advanced terrain is served by the Coronet Express chair, including the big Back Bowls gully which is strictly for experts only and requires a ten vertical metre hike to access the gully.

The Coronet Express chair also serves The Hurdle and The Chimney black runs, whilst the Exchange Drop route – also served by the Coronet Express – is well worth exploring. Another option for experienced skiers is the Pro Am run, offering skiers the chance to ski down beneath the lower half of the Coronet Express quad.

Advanced skiers will also enjoy the Race Arena by the Rock Gully T-bar. The Race Training route is used by the New Zealand Ski Race Team, and Powder Run is one of New Zealand’s most enjoyable black runs in good conditions.

A number of challenging routes can also be found below the Greengates Express six-seater chairlift. The Walk About run provides a challenging route back down the mountain, though is briefly interrupted with the traffic of less experienced skiers, whilst Ego Alley and the wonderfully named Donkey Serenade offer further options for advanced skiers.

Advanced skiers beware that the M1 run can become extremely busy in peak times with ski school groups so good skiers may prefer to avoid the slow moving traffic on Coronet Peak’s longest run.

Coronet Peak Boarding & Freestyle

Coronet Peak’s natural rolling terrain provides an abundance of natural hits, mini halfpipes and hidden powder stashes, making Coronet Peak a favourite not only among intermediate boarders, but among adventurous freestylers too.

Coronet Peak has become an excellent destination for snowboarders and freestylers of all standards. Beginners and intermediates can take advantage of the hardpack pistes, with plenty of long cruising bowls to choose from. Advanced boarders, meanwhile, will enjoy the chutes off the back of the summit.

Coronet Peak Mountain Restaurants

The Restaurant & Café in the newly renovated base building is Coronet Peak’s largest and most popular refuelling stop. Situated by the base of the Coronet Express quad at the bottom of the ski area, the Restaurant & Café is an obvious meeting point.

Located on the first floor of the base building, the Café is ideal for skiers wanting a quick turnaround. There is a good choice of food, with everything from sandwiches, salads and sushi to burgers, pies and pizzas.

Skiers with more time on their hands will enjoy the Coronet Restaurant. There is a full a la carte breakfast menu and a more extensive offering of lunchtime dishes, including hot pots, curries, lasagne, fish and chips and traditional South Island lamb-shanks. Floor to ceiling windows provide stunning views of the surrounding peaks and Wakatipu Basin. The Restaurant also offers a full a la carte menu on Friday and Saturday nights for night skiers.

The Mexican Cantina is situated on the deck of the base building, with a selection of quick and easy Mexican meals to choose from.

The cosy Heidi’s Hut is the only mountain restaurant up on the slopes, and is found by the base of the Rocky Gully T-bar. Heidi’s offers a selection of breakfasts, soups, pastas and pizzas, and also serves dinner during night skiing. Heidi’s wood panelling and roaring fire gives it a decidedly European alpine atmosphere.

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