Those who have enough trouble staying on their feet in skis or on a snowboard in optimal conditions will wonder why the hell you’d want to do it at night. That can only be because they haven’t tried it.
The one place in New Zealand where you can ski or board at night – or at least, where you can do it at night with the distinct advantage of artificial lighting to assist you – is Coronet Peak, one of the two superb fields right on Queenstown’s doorstep, and widely credited as being the place where the town’s reputation as the winter fun capital of New Zealand began.
Few people find themselves out in the open air in the mountains at night, so quite apart from the skiing, just being on the slopes under a full moon (or crescent moon, or no moon) is an unusual and affecting experience.
And then to exit the chairlift and pause at the top of the slope, contemplating a piste transformed into pools of brilliant light and hollows of inky dark by the floodlights, is one right out of the box.
It takes a bit of adjustment, but once you learn to read the terrain all over again, you’re away. The huge floodlights give the whole thing a kind of Big Match intensity, and the adrenaline seems to flow more freely than it does in the daytime.
Best of all, for the time being, the fact that you might be able to ski at night at all, let alone that you might be able to do it at Coronet, hasn’t yet occurred to the vast majority of the skiing public. So the slopes are comparatively empty.
Night skiing is available at Coronet every Friday and Saturday night until 9pm, conditions permitting. There’s no better way to kick off a party weekend.
If of course, you like to get to bed early, or you prefer to have the full benefit of daylight at your disposal on the slopes, then Coronet Peak remains one of New Zealand’s premier skiing destinations. It has 280 hectares of skiable terrain and a multi-million dollar view of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables included in the lift ticket price.
And if the sheer-looking snowfields of the Remarkables just get too tantalising, well, you can ski those, too.
Daytime, night time, this mountain, that mountain. Don’t say they don’t aim to please down here.