Treble Cone

Ski Resort in New Zealand

Introduction

Treble Cone is the closest ski area to Wanaka, New Zealand.

Treble Cone is the largest ski area in the South Island, boasting the longest vertical rise in the Queenstown Southern Lakes District. Treble Cone is most known for its spectacular views over Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring/Tititea and exciting intermediate to advanced terrain. The skifield is the off-season training ground for the national ski team of Austria.

Treble Cone, the largest ski area in NZ’s South Island, is famous for its long un-crowded groomed runs, legendary off-piste terrain and unrivalled views over Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps.

For beginner skiers and snowboarders, Treble Cone provides FREE lift access to the ‘Nice n’ Easy’ surface lifts located alongside the comforts of the Base lodge and café and the convenience of a fully kitted ski and snowboard rental shop.

For intermediate skiers and snowboarders, Treble Cone’s massive 700m of vertical, the longest in the Queenstown Southern Lakes District, makes space for some of New Zealand’s longest groomed trails including the 4km High Street / Easy Rider leg burner. For the best view over Lake Wanaka, cruise Raffles Run, a wide blue groomed trail accessed from the Saddle Basin chairlift. For the more adventurous, head down Saddle Back for a taste of Treble Cone’s famous off-piste terrain.

If it is advanced terrain you are after, the Saddle Basin and Summit Slopes are a playground of open powder faces, natural half pipes and fun drops. Or for the Export skier and snowboard, the Motatapu Chutes are a unique way of exploring the backcountry within the boundaries of patrolled and protected ski area.

No matter what level of skier or snowboarder you are, Treble Cone creates a real New Zealand snow experience that will have you grinning ear to ear.

Treble Cone info card

Resort Area
Ski Area Size550ha (1,359 acres)
Summit Elevation2088m (6,850ft)
Lift Elevation1960m (6,430ft)
Base Elevation1260m (4,110ft)
Lift Serviced Vertical Drop700m (2,321ft)
Longest Run4km (2.5 miles)
Beginner Terrain10%
Intermediate Terrain45%
Advanced Terrain45%
Terrain ParksJazz Park & Jazz Kid’s Fun Trail
Lift & Snowmaking Details
6 Seater Express ChairliftHome Basin Express
Quad ChairliftSaddle Quad
Surface PlatterNice‘n’Easy Platter
Magic CarpetBeginner Magic Carpet
Total Lift Capacity4,500 people per hour
Snowmaking50ha (123 acres)
Snow Grooming2 x Kassbohrer PB400 winch kats


Treble Cone Accommodation

Like most New Zealand ski resorts, there is no on-mountain Treble Cone accommodation. Staying in the town of Wanaka is the best option. Situated on the shores of Lake Wanaka, Wanaka is a chic and stylish town. Wanaka accommodation is of an extraordinary standard, and in addition to a few resort hotels, Wanaka has various opulent bed and breakfast lodges. For the budget oriented there are also various Wanaka backpackers.

Some skiers also stay in Queenstown, which is a 90 minute drive away from Treble Cone NZ. Queenstown is a small city located on the picturesque Lake Wakapitu. Tourist activities abound including adventure activities like bungy jumping. The nightlife is also world famous. Queenstown accommodation options are prolific and range from 5-star resort hotels to backpackers.


Treble Cone Snow

By NZ standards, Treble Cone ski field is renowned for a decent amount of snowfall with an average of 5.5 metres annually. Like other NZ ski resorts, the amount of snowfall varies significantly between seasons depending on the storm patterns. TC tends to get dumps from north-westerlies and westerlies, and very little precipitation from southerlies.

The powder that falls is far from blower powder, but it is pretty good for NZ. Treble Cone ski area has a variety of aspects so the snow quality varies. Unfortunately some of the best expert terrain is north facing, so you’ve got to hit it quickly on a powder day before the sun bakes it. Sure you have to pick your day, but at times there are some amazing powder runs. The topography of Treble Cone ski area provides many areas to catch the snow, rather than it blowing away as occurs at some resorts.

Like most other NZ ski fields, the Treble Cone snow cover can be highly variable. Sometimes the snow cover is good whilst at other times the lower half of the mountain (Home Basin) is sketchy and only has manmade snow on the main trails (which often seems to be counted in the snow depth report!). The patrollers don’t necessarily provide signage to indicate marginal (or bare) conditions, so keep your eyes peeled. Snowmaking capabilities cover about 9% of the terrain.

Grooming is limited to only the main trails such as Easy Rider and Main Street, the beginners’ area and a couple of trails around the perimeter of Saddle Basin.

Accommodation & Hotels

There is no on-mountain Treble Cone accommodation.

Most people who ski at Treble Cone stay in Wanaka accommodation which is only a 30 minute drive or shuttle-bus ride away. The towns of Glendhu Bay and Albert Town are very close to Wanaka, and offer other accommodation options.

Alternatively you can stay in Queenstown accommodation (90km away) and commute to Treble Cone which takes about 1 ½ hours by car.  Shuttle buses also operate out of Queenstown to Treble Cone.



Ski Area

The Treble Cone ski field has some impressive statistics (by New Zealand standards) when it comes to size, and we all know that bigger is better! Treble Cone is the largest ski area on the South Island of New Zealand at 550 hectares, and TC has the longest vertical drop at 700 metres.

The Treble Cone ski area also has the highest recorded average annual snowfall of the New Zealand ski resorts, and at 5.5 metres per season, hard-core powder hounds will be pretty happy with what Treble Cone has to offer.

With 45% of the ski terrain rated as advanced or expert, TC also has the highest proportion of black runs in New Zealand (equal with Craigieburn club field). And the black runs seem more challenging than the average NZ or Australian black diamond run, so there’s plenty of steep terrain to test most experienced skiers and snowboarders.

Intermediate riders also love Treble Cone ski resort for its steep leg-burning groomers. Match this with a 6-person express lift, and you are guaranteed to get plenty of vertical under your belt each day.

Only 10% of the terrain is dedicated to beginners. This is reasonably adequate for first timers, but there are better nearby ski resorts for those on the “L” plates. To attract novices, Treble Cone offers first-timer packages that are cheaper than some of the other commercial ski resorts, and lift tickets for the beginner area are free!


Treble Cone Skiing - Beginners

Treble Cone has a reputation for being inappropriate for beginners. Only 10% of the terrain is rated as “green” but this is more than enough for most beginners; well for novices anyway.

The purpose built beginners’ area near the base is fenced off from the main skiing area and features a very gentle slope on which to learn. It is serviced by a 25m magic carpet and the Nice ‘N’ Easy Platter lift. The next progression for confident beginners is the Easy Rider run off the top of the 6-person chair lift that snakes its way down to the base.

The inexpensive learner packages and the free beginner lift tickets also make TC attractive for novice skiers and snowboarders.


Ski Treble Cone - Intermediates

There are several intermediate runs at Treble Cone ski field for intermediate skiers and snowboarders, accessible from both the quad chair and the 6-person express lift. The ski area is probably not well suited to low end intermediates as the groomers are steep and often fast. Considering the lift efficiency, you’ll get a huge amount of skiing in each day. A nice long run is from Upper High Street all the way down into Home Basin, providing 4.5km of thigh burn.


Terrain Park

Treble Cone has a little terrain park catering for advanced riders to beginners, which is situated in the Saddle Basin at the end of the Bullet run. Excavation works have enabled the park to open from the early part of the season. The park is somewhat limited, so shredders seeking lots of freestyle variety will be better off at The Remarkables or Cardrona. On the plus side, the natural terrain of Treble Cone offers lots of hits such as ledges and half-pipes.


Advanced Snowboarding and Skiing

Advanced runs are the absolute strength of the Treble Cone ski area. The black runs at TC are typically more difficult than those at most other resorts in NZ or Australia. Many of them are both steep and narrow. Great areas include Powder Bowl in the Home Basin and the chutes above it, and Saddle Basin is an advanced rider’s dream with lots of lines to choose from along ridges and gullies that catch the powder and produce some nice stashes. Those on the skiers’ right are steep, and the gradient progressively diminishes as you move across to the skiers’ left.

If you follow Upper High Street you’ll get to several chutes which lead to Gun Barrel and Sundance. If the snow is icy (or marginal) these runs can be quite dangerous for the inexperienced rider due to their steepness.

Off the express chair, head along Expressway and drop into Solitude, Farout and Outer Limits. Because the 6-pack chair is so fast and there are negligible lift lines, you can get back up to the top almost as fast as you can ski down. By the end of a day (or lunchtime!) your legs should be very weary!


Expert Skiing & Boarding

Although not super extreme, Treble Cone ski resort provides a few good challenges for expert riders. The terrain is extremely variable and is relatively steep wherever you go. From the Saddle Quad Chairlift, turn left at the top (skiers right), staying high until you enter the control gates of the backcountry area of Motatapu Basin. Here you will find some of the steepest and most challenging chutes in New Zealand. These areas can be extremely dangerous and prone to avalanches, so always obey the signs (if there are any!) and only ski these areas with the appropriate back-country essentials. For the inner chutes a traverse is required to return to the quad chair, whilst the outer chutes will require a 15-20 minute hike. And if you get carried away with the moment and ski below the quad chair, it will be a really long walk/skin back!


Treble Cone Backcountry

There are also other side-country areas around the resort that can be accessed with a bit of a walk/skin. These include the summit (about 30 minutes) and Tim’s Table above the Saddle Quad.

The best way to explore the Treble Cone backcountry is to head out with Aspiring Guides.

Ski lifts & pass

The Treble Cone ski field is spread over three large basins. Home Basin at the base of the resort is serviced by the very speedy 6-person chair lift, whilst a slow quad chair services the Saddle Basin. The Motatapu Basin consists of double-black runs, and is accessible from the top of the Saddle Basin, although most of the chutes require a hike to get back to the lift. Even though Treblecone only has 4 lifts (two of which are beginner lifts), they have been reasonably well planned and provide an incredible number of skiing options. The lifts are reasonably efficient and lift queues are generally a non-issue on the 6-pack. Sometimes on busy weekend, queues can develop on the top chair.

The major limitation of the Treble Cone lift lay-out is that some of the ski areas at the top and bottom become a bit repetitive as you need to travel or traverse to get to the runs furthest away from the lifts.


SKI LIFT PASSES

1 Day'Flexi'
2 Day
'Flexi'
3 Day
'Flexi'
4 Day
'Flexi'
5 Day*
Adult Lift Pass (per day)$ 110
$101
$99
$97
$95
Adult Total$110$202
$297
$388
$475
Child Lift Pass (6-17 years) (per day)$ 55
$51
$50
$49
$48
Child Total
$55$102
$150
$196
$240
Student Lift Pass (per day)$83
$78
$76
$75
$73
Student Total
$83$156
$228
$300
$365
Senior Lift Pass (per day)$72
$65
$ 64
$63
$62
Senior Total
$72$130
$192
$252
$310
Family Lift Pass^ (per day)$297
$272
$267
$262
$257
Family Total$297$545
$801
$1048
$1285
'Flexi' Passes redeemable at Treble Cone and Cardrona in consecutive and non-consecutive days
Single Day lift passes are redeemable at Treble Cone only.
^Family Lift Pass includes 2 adult & 2 child lift passes. Not included as part of 'Flexi Pass'
*Buy a 5 Day 'Flexi' Pass and top up with additional days anytime at the same discounted rate

Activities & Things to do


Winter activities

Treble Cone is the largest ski area in New Zealand’s South Island, equalled only by Roundhill after the installation of a 1.44 km (0.9 miles) rope tow (world’s longest rope tow) in 2010. Treble Cone has a vertical rise of 700m creating the longest runs in Queenstown Southern Lakes District, including the 4 km High Street to Easy Rider beginner to intermediate groomed run.

Treble Cone is most known for its fairly steep and challenging terrain which they claim is some of the best in the country. Recent earthworks initiatives have however ensure that beginner to intermediate skiers and boarders are fully catered for. These include providing more expansive beginner and intermediate groomed trails for skiers and boarders in both the Home and Saddle Basin and a free beginner surface lift and ski area near the base facilities. There is also a small terrain park and kids fun trail to explore.

The thriving backcountry ski and snowboard scene around Queenstown and Wanaka utilise Treble Cone as an access point to some of the best out of bound terrain in the region. The resort provides a discounted lift pass to help backcountry users more easily access this terrain from Treble Cone’s summit. Backcountry tours also leave from Treble Cone, operated by Aspiring Guides.

Resort area

  • Ski Area Size: 550ha (1,359 acres)
  • Lifted Vertical: 700m (2,321 ft)
  • Longest Run: 4 km (2.5miles)
  • Summit Elevation: 2088m (6,850 ft)
  • Base Buildings: 1250m (4,110 ft)
  • Top of 6 Seater Express: 1760m (5,774 ft)
  • Top of Saddle Quad Chairlift: 1960m (6,430 ft)
  • Beginner Terrain: 10%
  • Intermediate Terrain: 45%
  • Advanced Terrain: 45%
  • Terrain Parks: Intermediate Park & Kids Fun Trail

Lifts

  • High Speed Detachable Six Seater Chairlift
  • Quad Chairlift
  • Platter Lift
  • Magic Carpet

Resort facilities

  • Snowsports School (kids and adults lessons)
  • Childcare Centre (for kids 3 months - 5 years)
  • Snowboard and Ski Rentals
  • Cafe and Bar (food, hot drinks and alcohol)
  • Rental Shop,
  • Ski Patrol
  • Medical Centre

Summer activities

Historically Treble Cone has opened the six seater chairlift for hiking and mountain biking. In 2007 this included hosting the first downhill event of the NZ Community Trust National Series in the weekend. 195 riders raced against the clock on the 2.5 km downhill trail. Currently there are no plans to continue the summer field operations.

Facilities & Services

Most of the resort services and facilities at Treble Cone are situated within one large building at the base area of Home Basin. The upstairs area includes a café and small retail shop. The downstairs component includes lift ticket purchases, rental equipment, ski school and a medical centre. The only toilet facilities are at the base, so if you’re skiing at the Saddle Basin it’s a bit of a trek back.


Treble Cone Ski Hire and Snowboard Rental

The costs of Treble Cone ski hire and snowboard hire are pretty consistent with other large commercial NZ ski resorts. And as with other resorts, the costs per day are less the more days you rent.

Treble Cone equipment rentals are more expensive than Wanaka ski hire, but has the advantage of not having to transport your equipment up the hill, and the ability to change your equipment as required or desired. In case you want to use the equipment at another mountain, you can return it to a depot in Wanaka rather than taking it back to Treble Cone.


Facilities for Children

TC does not offer child care for the full day and there is no child care for babies and infants. The Kitty Kat Club offers supervised indoor play for children aged 3-5 but this is for a maximum of 2 hours (or 3 hours if a private ski lesson is included). Spaces can be limited and child care is offered on a first come first served basis.


Treble Cone Ski School

Kids ski school (ages 3-15) starts from the age of 3 for skiing, and from the age of 6 for snowboarding. Treble Cone runs a full day program (if you call 5 hours a full day). The program includes supervision over the one hour lunch break, and they also provide early morning supervision before the class starts. These programs are pretty good value.

First timer packages that include equipment rental, lift pass and a lesson are reasonably priced.

Standard adult 2 hour group lessons are provided for skiing or snowboarding, as are private lessons. Treblecone also has a range of specialised programs.

If you really want to take your skiing or snowboarding to a new level, consider joining Yes tours. The Yes Wanaka Tours are 1-2 weeks long and can incorporate just the tuition or also include a full package of accommodation, transport, lift tickets, and some social events.

Restaurants & Nightlife

The Treble Cone caféteria sells a range of meals including the usual pies and chips, soups, hot mains, sandwiches, wraps, sushi and sweeties including yummy slices. For a resort cafeteria, the food is pretty good and the prices are very reasonable. The only limitation is that the day lodge space is inadequate on busy days and the resort doesn’t discourage brown baggers from spreading their chilly bins and bags across half the area (whilst they’re out skiing)!

There is a lovely sundeck outside that overlooks the action on the slopes and there’s a big outdoor fire to warm your butt. Keas sometimes make the deck their home, so keep an eye on your food and your gloves!

Treble Cone has a bar within the cafeteria that sells coffee and alcoholic bevies.

There is now a new “cafeteria” near the top of the 6-pack chair lift. It’s fashioned out of a couple of shipping containers, and there are various tables and deck chairs where you can lounge and take in the magnificent views. The High Altitude Café serves coffee, other beverages and pizzas, although you might have to wait a while for the latter.

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