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QUEENSTOWN: PLANETSKI HITS THE TOWN & ITS SKI RESORTS - James Cove, New Zealand
Wednesday August 29, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

The PlanetSKI RV trip in NZ arrives in Queenstown. After some chilling it's time for the slopes of Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.

 

 

 

 

 

SUNDAY 2nd SEPTEMBER

And so to The Remarkables.

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am tempted to use a single word to describe it: ‘remarkable'.

Why?

Well, the journey up in the PlanetSKI RV to start with.

Not for the faint hearted as we twisted and turned up the 13km road from the valley floor - it started off as tarmac but, like pretty much all roads to NZ ski resorts, ended up as a dirt track:

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We opted to park and took the shuttle bus up the last section.

It proved to be a good call as when we got there we noticed no others RV had made the hazardous journey up to the main base car park.

I skied around for a bit and saw its main slopes, the nursery area and the park.

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or should I say parks as The Remarkables has 6 different parks including The Buton Stash - one of only six in the world.

And then pulled out the video camera after an hour or so nosing around and seeing what was on offer.

Here are my first impressions:

I wasn't wrong, but I wasn't quite right either as I had missed rather a lot as I discivered when I continued to blast around the area.

First of all the views - quite, er, remarkable.

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then the off piste and backcountry opportunities - er, even more remarkable.

The Shadow Basin area serves these short but challenging routes that are marked to the right of the map.

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there were plenty of people hiking up to access the steeper stuff that the resort has to offer.

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And at the end of the day as we drove down people had ridden down to the end of the snow line adding some extra terrain to their day.

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





 

 

 

All in all a resort with some surprises and certainly better and more varied than I had been led to believe.

The Remarkables, New ZealandThe Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next we're putting our skis away for a few days and are off to the Fiordlands and then it is probably up to the glaciers on the west coast and then a ski in Mt Hutt.

That's the plan anyway.

But then again all plans are made to be broken.

All we had to do was drive down the Remarkables mountain access road again...

 The Remarkables, New Zealand The Remarkables, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SATURDAY 1st SEPTEMBER

THE HISTORY OF SKIING AROUND QUEENSTOWN

Norwegian gold miners introduced skiing to the area around Queenstown in the 1860s as they used rudimentary skis to move around in winter.

At the turn of the century, and after, many small ski clubs popped up across New Zealand.

Coronet Peak was one such place.

The skiers came with homemade wooden skis and some used adapted golf clubs as ski poles.

In 1947 the first rope ski tow was installed making it the first commercial ski resort in New Zealand.

The resort then expanded rapidly in the 50s and 60s with new lifts and an airline bringing in guests from Australia.

Coronet Peak in the 1960sCoronet Peak in the 1960s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronet Peak in the 1960sCoronet Peak in the 1960s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was another 30 years before Queenstown has another ski area when Cardrona Alpine Resort opened in 1977.

The Remarkables ski resort opened in 1985.

The 1980s saw the advent of snowboarding in New Zealand, and 1988 saw the first New Zealand snowboarding national championships were held at Cardrona.

When the first half-pipe was constructed, international snowboarders started arriving to train there too.

In 1998, snowboarding was included for the first time at the Olympic Winter Games in Nagono, Japan and the Pamela Bell represented New Zealand in the women's Giant Slalom.

The resort is currently hosting events in the Winter Games NZ an the Junior Freestyle Championships as I reported earlier on my RV travels in NZ:

Queenstown is known as the adventure and adrenalin capital of the South Island with dozens of activities in offer, including off piste skiing.

Privately chartered planes began dropping people off on the mountains over 60 years ago.

In the 1950s, New Zealand ski planes were also modified to allow them to land on large glaciers, and the first one flew from Mt Cook village in 1955.

Today the choice of aircraft is a helicopter.

As well as being the first ski resort in New Zealand it also led the way in mass-market ski tourism.

While in the resort I spoke to the current ski area manager, Nigel Kerr:

On my brief visit to the resort I also spent part of the day watching the FIS racing and catching up with an old friend, Martin Bell, as I reported lower down this article on 31st August.

And I found time to have a quick look round the resort:

Coronet Peak, New ZealandCoronet Peak, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronet Peak, New ZealandCoronet Peak, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronet Peak, New ZealandCoronet Peak, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadly the steep stuff was closed:

Coronet Peak, New ZealandCoronet Peak, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a video of the views:

 

As I said, next stop The Remarkables...

FRIDAY 31st AUGUST

Now this is getting quite ridiculous.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I walked into Ski Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on the way out and bumped into an old mate from Verbier, Chris David.

He is operations manager of the slope.

Then in Cardrona it was Pat Sharples, the head coach of the GB Park and Pipe ski team.

And now in Coronet Peak?

None other that Martin Bell, perhaps the best downhill ski racer to have ever raced for Great Britain.

"Hey James good to see you again, what brings you here?" Martin asked.

"Haven't seen you since that great day we had skiing the powder in Vail a couple of winter's ago."

"Just passing through in an RV touring a few of the ski resorts and seeing the sights," I replied.

"And you?" I enquired

"My daughter Reece is racing in the giant slalom today in the NZ Winter Games and then the slalom later in the week," Martin answered.

We began to pose for the obligatory photo, but just got yapping.

Time for a  catch upTime for a catch up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Look can you two stop talking like a couple of old gossips and look at the camera," said PlanetSKI's travelling official photographer.

So we obliged.

Time for a poseTime for a pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then we carried on...

...the state of British ski racing, the future of skiing, the work racers put in, the demise of the chalet holiday, the joy of skiing, the dreadful impact Brexit is already having on the UK snowports industry and other subjects were all gone over.

And another thing...And another thing...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what of daughter Reece.

Reece has been racing in South Africa and Australia over the past few weeks gaining valuable experience and plenty of points.

After her day in the gates we had a word or two:



Reece is a very real GB prospect for the future and is currently sponsored by Atomic, POC / 2pure, Reusch, Tenson, Slick Willy's and Leki - so BIG shout out to them all.

So, what of the skiing at Coronet Peak?

If was fabulous despite the weather closing in.

Yours truly prepares to ski Coronet PeakYours truly prepares to ski Coronet Peak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And what I didn't know is that it is the oldest commercial resort in New Zealand and the one others in the country have copied.

I'll be looking at the history of the resort and what it is currently like on the slopes in my next blog, so do check back.

Early days of Coronet PeakEarly days of Coronet Peak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Early days of Coronet Peak Early days of Coronet Peak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in the meantime good luck in the slalom, Reece!

Potential star of the futurePotential star of the future

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'll let you know how she gets on later.

WEDNESDAY 29th AUGUST

Now normally when I arrive in a ski resort the first thing I do is head up the mountain.

Or least head off for some adrenalin filled activity or two.

Queenstown is the adventure capital of the south island - sky diving, bungee jumping, white water rafting, jet skiing and any other activity you can think of:

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoilt for choiceSpoilt for choice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been travelling for 2-weeks now, stopping off for 3-nights in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, 4-nights Singapore and 1-night in Melbourne on the way to New Zealand.

Almost a week in the RV as we set off from Christchurch and headed to Cardrona for our first ski turns:

Now I wanted a chill-out day – a day of doing nothing.

Some washing, admin and a stroll by the lake.

Lake Wakatipu to be precise.

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was stunning.

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With some extraordinary trees on its shoreline:

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The steamer, TSS Earnslaw or Lady of the Lake as she is known, glided past.

The vessel was launched in 1912 and is the oldest working cola fired ship in the southern hemisphere.  

She is named after the highest peak in the region, Mount Earnslaw.

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A boat trip seemed like a good plan.

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was calm to start, but then things became a bit rougher.

About the only adrenalin activity I would do today as I ran inside to take shelter.

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The views of the NZ scenery were even more impressive from the lake.

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queenstown, New ZealandQueenstown, New Zealand

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was happy with my stroll along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and a boat trip.

It was a chill out day after all.

And tomorrow?

It's skiing in Coronet Peak... Bring it on....

WITH THANKS

PlanetSKI is funding its trip: flights, accommodation and much else besides as we like to remain independent.

However we have to thank a few people and organisations who are offering help along the way.

NZSKI grasped the idea of the trip immediately and have assisted us in its resorts of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Mount Hutt - thank you Frederique Gulcher.

See here for further details about the resorts:

Apollo Camper also embraced the idea of doing part of it in an RV and have offered support in getting the right vehicle for our adventures - thank you Tara Eller and Dylan Moetara.

If you want an RV in New Zealand or Australia look no further: www.apollocamper.com

Robyn Pester from Queenstown has given us valuable introductions to people who have not heard of PlanetSKI - hard to believe people haven't we know ;-)

See further details of the town that will be our base over the next week or so: Queenstown 

Lastly Sophie Luther from the Audi quattro Winter Games only got a last minute request from us, at one of her busiest times, and yet was able to find time to help. BIG shout out!

And as we embark on our New Zealand adventures this list will no doubt grow and we are eternally grateful for all who have helped.

And those that will do so.

THANK YOU!

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SKIING: PART TEN (Tuesday October 30, 2018)
OCTOBER NEWS IN BRIEF (Tuesday October 30, 2018)
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