Sara Dajani checks out the best learners' slopes in Central Otago.
1 The Remarkables, Queenstown
About 30 per cent of The Remarkables' ski fields are suitable for beginners and with a number of great eateries nearby, you'll be able to fuel their hungry tummies after they whizz their way down the slopes. There are full-day lessons available for children — the Kea Club runs from 10am-4pm for 5-17 year-olds, and Mini Keas is for kids 4-5. Qualified instructors teach the basics and help build confidence, so youngsters can feel relaxed and excited about trying out their new skills. Both clubs provide lunch and a fun-filled, action-packed day for all abilities.
2 Coronet Peak, Queenstown
Another Central Otago favourite for kids, Coronet Peak offers several programmes to make their first skiing experience unforgettable. And they start young here — Skiwiland, a licensed early learning centre, is available for children from 3 months to 5 years. The 2-5 year-olds get out and about on the slopes, those aged 3 and over taking part in group ski lessons. Coronet Peak also has a Kea Club for older children, as well as all-day lessons and holiday programmes. Kids under 5 can ski for free. This year, Coronet Peak has an added attraction for families, with the opening of Ice Castles — a winter wonderland of frozen caves, slides and fairytale-style towers — in July.
3 Cardrona Alpine Resort, Wanaka
is home to NZ's most qualified ski and snowboard school and the resort's wide, open trails have plenty of room for learners. Twenty-five per cent of its slopes are beginner level and there are multiple kids' programmes and lessons on offer. Drop them off at the Kids' Snow Sports Club from 8.30am and club staff will take care of everything — getting them ready, dropping them off at lessons and feeding them a hot lunch. Group ski lessons are available for kids 5 and older, and snowboard lessons for those 7 and older. Kids are grouped based on ability, with an assessment after half an hour to make sure they're in the right group. The Cardrona Ski Kindy, a fully-licensed ELC, caters for children from 3 months to 5 years. Pengi's Nursery is for those 2 and under and the Ski Kindy is for 2-5 year-olds. Four-day Adventure Programmes run every week of the season for 5-14 year-olds, including lessons, lunch, and frequent hot chocolate breaks. If only they allowed parents in, too.