Photo: Neil Kerr
The Remarkables ski area, Queenstown’s much-loved Alpine playground, has excelled itself for 2016 by adding another 45.5 hectares of lift-accessed skiable terrain to its already outstanding offering.
By establishing Car Park 4 below the existing Homeward pick up on the access road, skiers and boarders can now head up Shadow Basin chair, hit The Highway to the renowned powder bowl that is Homeward and further on to Outward Bound (some beaut off-piste skiing still within the ski area boundary) and maybe make that last run of the day straight back to their car. Otherwise a shuttle operates from the bottom of Homeward and Car Park 4 throughout the day (check the message boards for times) to take you back up to the base building.
It’s the latest innovation for a ski area that’s seen huge amounts of investment over the past three years.
After sealing the first 4km of the access road in time for last season, this year another 5.5km of road has been sealed, taking the new smooth surface through to the 9.5km mark.
Thanks to its location and elevation, The Remarks receives fantastic natural snow, supported as always by the ‘firepower’ of over 100 snow guns to keep trails topped up nicely.
On those big bluebird powder days the field’s been proving increasingly popular thanks to the new Curvey Basin lift and a spanking brand new base building, so another 150 car parks have been added with the completion of Car Park 4, increasing total capacity to at least 940 spaces.
Talking of the new building (which everyone absolutely loves!) there’s been a few tweaks after its first successful season. Not until you put any public building through its paces with a few thousand people can you see just where to make improvements. So after a season of watching, listening and learning, looking closely at guest flows around the building, they’re adding more staff behind the counter in Guest Services, improving response times for guests in rentals, and making the whole overnight storage service work more efficiently.
The new café, restaurant and coffee service at The Remarks proved a big hit last year, and there’s more improvements being made for 2016 to improve flows through all areas for entering, ordering and leaving (fuelled for the next few runs!). With decks on three sides, stunning views up the mountain and down into the valley, and heaps of seating inside and out, it’s hands-down the best ski area building in the country right now. To enjoy those views, another 20 picnic tables have been added around the decks.
After two seasons operating Curvey Basin chairlift, the new trails have bedded in nicely and our regulars have already identified their favourite off-piste ‘lines’ across, around and down the basin.
Moving the Remarks Ice Bar a couple of seasons ago to its new, bigger and even sunnier spot at Curvey Junction (seriously the best views ever of the ski area, Wakatipu Basin and Southern Alps in the distance) makes it the place to hang out. Ticks all the boxes for people watching with a cold beverage and a seriously good Bratwurst or bacon butty.
The Remarks has always been a favourite with families, and what’s not to love about three sun-drenched, North-facing snow-filled bowls perfectly formed to cater for everyone from absolute beginners to powderhounds.
Walk out from the base building and you’re on the expanded beginners slope in just ten paces. Learning how to link those first turns and the all-important ‘how to stop’ lesson is made so much easier on the gentlest of slopes accessed by three conveyor lifts. A range of lessons and packages are on offer for everyone from complete beginners to adults keen to improve technique, or kids in school holiday programmes.
Intermediate skiers and serious high-flying freestylers and boarders now use Curvey to access Sugar Bowl and its terrain parks. From schoolkids (and adults!) hitting their first jumps or boxes to some of New Zealand’s best in the Freestyle Zone or The Stash, Sugar Bowl’s a mecca for fun.
Hiring rental gear’s easy up at The Remarks – 80% of its rental ski stock has been replaced this season to maintain very high standards of equipment. The rental department’s so much bigger in the new building so there’s plenty of room to try on boots, get bindings set and pick up clothing before walking up onto the snow.
Getting up the mountain’s a breeze these days. A new drop off area right next to the base building is working so well for those driving the easy 35 minutes’ drive from central Queenstown – means you can drop your family, friends and all the gear right on the doorstep then drive back down to park. Regular shuttles deliver you back to the Base lodge.
If you prefer to sit back and enjoy the scenery, NZSki’s Snowline transport runs regular buses specifically designed for mountain roads from Queenstown’s town centre and back. Too easy.
See you up at The Remarks from scheduled opening on June 18!