The Open Road : May June 2012
TRAVEL THE SOUTHERN ALPS OF NEW ZEALAND Family snow fun in New Zealand STORY BY RACHAEL OAKES-ASH New Zealand’s Southern Alps are the perfect winter family playground, on and off the snow SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING can be daunting with a family. Little Miss wants to go to the terrain park, Master Junior needs to learn to ski, Mum hasn’t had her ski legs in 10 years, and Dad thinks he can take on the big peaks like gold-medal racer Bode Miller. But things get really tricky on a ‘down day’ when the legs are just too tired to make another turn. Dad wants a local brew, Mum fancies a wine, and the kids just want to run wild. Thank goodness for Queenstown and the Southern Lakes region of New Zealand – a three-hour flight from Sydney. From the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the Southern Alps drive skywards – literally – for thousands of metres, presenting an alpine vista worthy of Europe. These peaks are your playground. The glitzy resort town of Queenstown sits on one side of the Crown Range, with laid-back Wanaka an hour’s drive away on the other. Five commercial ski resorts service both towns. The local’s favourite is Coronet Peak ski field, a twenty-five minute drive from Queenstown. Coronet has an excellent ski school for beginners, a dedicated novice area complete with chairlift, and challenging runs to keep better riders happy. Kids programmes for all ages and abilities are available, although prior booking is recommended. Weekend night skiing makes for a great family outing and is included on a multi-day lift pass. 52 OPENROAD Across the valley, The Remarkables ski resort perches on the side of the mountain range of the same name. What it lacks in size (the skiable terrain is 220 hectares), it makes up for with two terrain parks and The Stash – a free-ride park that uses the mountain’s natural rocky landscape – plus a fun tube park for the young, and young at heart. Quieter than Coronet across the valley, it’s a great introductory mountain for everyone. Families are well catered for at Cardrona, or ‘Cardies’ for those in the know – midway between Queenstown and Wanaka. Kids have their own dedicated website, childcare facilities and ski school. Enjoy over three-hundred-and-forty-five hectares of skiable terrain, plus five food outlets including a juice bar, noodle bar and pizzeria, complete with sun deck. Wannabe Shaun Whites and Torah Brights can head to Snow Park – a unique dedicated-terrain park resort. Catering to beginners and experts alike, it’s first of its kind in the world, with half-pipes, rails, jumps and more. Night skiing and dazzling spectator events enhance the experience. Treble Cone Mountain has the longest vertical rise in the Southern Alps area. It also has the best view from any mountain top in the world, with vistas over Lake Wanaka. Experts head to Saddle Basin, FAMILY EATS FERGBURGER QUEENSTOWN You may have to queue for the seriously big burgers at Fergburger, but there’s a reason they are so popular – they are good. Very good. WINNIES GOURMET PIZZA BAR QUEENSTOWN Kids will love the retractable roof that opens to the night sky. The pizzas are very popular too. CARDRONA HOTEL After a hard day on the slopes, this historic pub is a must-stop on the way down. Sit around open fi res on the mammoth backyard lawn and sip a mulled wine, while the kids devour the children’s menu. THE COW QUEENSTOWN AND WANAKA In the uber-cool Post Offi ce Lane in Wanaka, the Cow serves up spaghetti and pizza at reasonable prices and in a cosy setting. VUDU CAFÉ AND VUDU CAFÉ & LARDER Yummy home-cooked fare for adults and children, huge sausage rolls, muffi ns, energy-boosting breakfasts, and gluten-free options. JOE’S GARAGE Retro-style coffee house with pikelets, toasties, Goldilocksstyle porridge and more. Courtesy Miles Holden, Nzone.biz, Shotoverjet.com/Tourism New Zealand; Gerard Walker/Lonely Planet Images.
March April 2012