The Remarkables, New Zealand.
The Remarkables, New Zealand. Contributed

Winter wonderlands in NZ

HAVE you ever walked on clouds?

You might say it's impossible, but I don't think so.

Fresh powder snow, blue skies and breathtaking views make Coronet Peak and The Remarkables two of the southern hemisphere's top winter attractions.

Three friends and I headed across the Tasman mid-winter on a week-long trip in search of New Zealand's best snow.

After the quick three-hour direct flight to Queenstown from Brisbane, we arrived in the town within 10 minutes.

Our mountain of choice for the first two days was Coronet Peak, about 20 minutes from the heart of the town.

The area hadn't had any fresh snow in more than three weeks but the snow-making machines on the mountain had it in top shape. After a quick group snowboard lesson I was cruising down the various runs and back up on the quick chairlifts.

We even snuck in a night session for something different.

We headed to The Remarkables for our third day and while the chairlift rides were longer, the runs were considerably shorter and less exciting.

The snow was running thin so we headed home after a few hours to rest up before returning to Coronet Peak the following day.

With rain coming down during the night in town, we were preparing for a day of slush and poor snow but we were greeted with 12cm of fresh powder when we got to the top.

Despite snowboarding in Victoria a few years ago, I had never experienced what true powder snow was like.

The first run that morning was pure bliss.

As you broke through the cloud level, you were greeted with untracked runs of knee-deep soft snow.

It was a surreal experience which saw us head up and down for hours straight.

The snow was in pristine condition the next day for our final session which made the end of the holiday remarkable.

We bunked up at Creeksyde Holiday Park in the heart of the bustling ski town for our stay.

The two-bedroom apartment was perfect for our needs. It was clean, warm, reasonably priced and fully equipped for four boys with nothing but snow on their minds.

Our car of choice for the week was a 4WD Toyota Kluger, known as a Highlander in Australia.

While shuttle buses run out of Queenstown to the mountains regularly, having a car eliminated a lot of headaches.

We didn't have to lug our gear from the accommodation to the bus stop each day or have to wait in the long queues at the end of each draining session to get home. The four-wheel drive capability also saw us skip the chain-fitting areas on some of the trips up the icy hill.

While predicting snow falls is difficult, you're nearly guaranteed to have great skiing conditions in the south island of New Zealand.

The numerous mountains receive three times as much snow as Australia does each year and the landscape is hard to match.

While Queenstown can be an expensive town, it has to be experienced.

It's a beautiful place in one of the most picturesque countries in the world.

This year's season has wrapped up but it's wise to think about next winter's plans early.

Air New Zealand flies directly to Queenstown while an NZ Superpass gives you access to Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Canterbury's Mt Hutt.

Prepaid lift passes can be traded for tourist activities if you don't feel like hitting the slopes.

The infamous luge is a must-do while bungee jumping and country tours are also popular for tourists.

The southern mountains receive the most snow from July to late August.

But it's not uncommon for large dumps during June.

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