Treble Cone

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

Treble Cone
LocationOtago, New Zealand
Nearest major cityWanaka
Top elevation2088m
Base elevation1250m
Lift capacity6200 skiers
Terrain parks2
Snowfall2.7 m
Night skiingno

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 views over Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring/Tititea and its intermediate to advanced terrain. The skifield is the off-season training ground for the national ski team of Austria.[1]


Founded by Rod Aubrey, Murray Raffills (Raffills Ridge namesake) and Ralph Markby in 1968, Treble Cone started out as a small club field being managed by local ski enthusiasts.

In 1975 Treble Cone was listed as a public company to raise funds for a high standard road, modest base building and ski hire facilities, constructed over the summer and opened in 1976. Development continued throughout the '80s and early '90s with the mountains first double chair installed in the Home Basin in 1983, the installation of a T-Bar in the Saddle Basin in 1989 and the first permanent snowmaking facilities installed in 1991.

The first base lodge at Treble Cone (cira 1976)

Treble Cone received its next major upgrade in 1995/96 with the installation of New Zealand's first high speed, detachable 6-seater chairlift in the Home Basin. The pre-existing double chair was relocated to the Saddle Basin to further improve access to the famed terrain. In the same period, major extensions to the base building took place, a new car parking area was developed and a snowmaking pond was installed.

Earthworks dominated development in the 2000s (summers of 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011), improving the beginner and intermediate terrain in the Home and Saddle Basin and access to the Saddle Basin.

In 2005. Treble Cone saw a new fixed grip quad chairlift in the Saddle Basin and Ski Patrol hut at the top of the Six Seater. In 2006 and again in 2007, further investment increase snowmaking facilities across the Home Basin.

Along with Cardrona Ski Area, Treble Cone updated its sales and ticketing systems in 2011/12, enabling the launch of OnePassNZ (a shared lift pass initiative). The new RFID ticketing system also allowed guest with pre-paid passes to ski straight to the gate as well as track vertical and number of runs skied. [2]

In December 2019, the Commerce Commission gave approval for the purchase of Treble Cone Investments Ltd by Cardrona Alpine Resort.[3] In early 2020, Cardrona reported that they were working towards merging the operations and marketing of the two resorts.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6]

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.[1] 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.[7]

Treble Cone Trail Map (2013)
Treble Cone overlooking Lake Wanaka
Skiing Treble Cone's summit

Resort area[6]

  • 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


  • 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 [8]
  • Cafe and Bar (food, hot drinks and alcohol)
  • Rental Shop,
  • Ski Patrol
  • Medical Centre

Getting to Treble Cone

Treble Cone is located a 35-minute drive from Wanaka or a 90-minute drive from Queenstown. During the winter, various options are available including door to door shuttles from both, Queenstown and Wanaka[9] as well as scenic flights from Queenstown.

Treble Cone Race Academy

The Treble Cone Race Academy is renowned for being one of the top ski race training grounds in the Southern Hemisphere. The programmes are designed to improve young athletes racing skills. The participation of skiers from around the world, provides a huge development opportunity to many of New Zealand's youth racers who train with the academy.[10] Treble Cone holds many races up to Continental Cup level.

Aspiring Avalanche Dogs

Based at Treble Cone, Aspiring Avalanche dogs is a non-profit organization and a registered charity that provides a primary response avalanche search dog service to the ski areas and backcountry of the Southern Lakes Region. The highly trained dog teams can be rapidly deployed around the clock to help locate skiers, snowboarders and mountaineers unlucky enough to be caught in an avalanche.[11]

Rookie Academy

Based at Treble Cone, Rookie Academy is a world class incubator of ski and snowboard instructor training. Rookie Academy run instructor training courses from 2 weeks to 11 weeks in duration, aiming at preparing candidate for NZSIA, BASI, CSIA, (Canadian association of Snowboard Instructors (CASI)), PSIA instructor exams.[12]

Ski Patrol Certificate

Run by Tai Poutini Polytechnic at Treble Cone, students train towards completing a Certificate Level 3 in Ski Patrol, providing them with the skills required for a role as a first year ski patroller. Many of the successful candidates go on to work as ski patrollers throughout the world as well as guiding, backcountry touring and emergency care and safety management.[13]

Season pass prices

Treble Cone controversially [citation needed] raised its season pass prices for the 2007 season to NZ$2200 after 31 May, with “early bird” pre-season passes being NZ$1500. The early bird pass was a free upgrade from a 50-day season pass to a premium pass due to public and local community consultation. There have been many letters to newspapers and a general upset towards Treble Cone. Treble Cone management has released media statements

In 2008, the company was required to raise extra capital from its shareholders to cover the loss. Season pass pricing was determined to be the problem, as a result pre-season passes for 2009 were dropped to $990. Locals have strongly supported the change.

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.

Proposed gondola

The gondola was approved late in 2008, with a 10-year building consent. Due to the current economic climate there appears to be no desire to install the lift in the short term.[14]

View from Treble Cone of Matukituki Valley floor

On Friday 14 July 2006, The Press ran a story[15] on Treble Cone Investments lodging resource consent applications regarding a proposed gondola from Cattle Flat (at the base of the skifield access road) to the skifield itself. The proposed gondola would travel 3.3 km in under 11 minutes, and be capable of carrying 2000 people an hour. It would rise 945 m.

Talk of a gondola has been around for some time, but has been re-ignited recently due to the deaths of three young Australian skiers when they drove off the access road in 2004.[16] The access road is under regular criticism from patrons because of its corrugations, steep incline with tight switchbacks and lack of safety barriers.[citation needed] It also coincides with other objectives for the skifield, said Treble Cone director, Richard Hanson.[citation needed] A increase in ticket prices in 2006 seems to be to help the funding of the building project.[citation needed] On good days the field is always short of car parking, and cars may be parked up to a kilometre down the access road.[citation needed] Because of these reasons the gondola is a very popular proposal with locals except for the likelihood of more overcrowding at the resort.[citation needed]


  1. "Wanaka: The white stuff". New Zealand Herald. 2007-08-13. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
  2. Cone, Treble (2013). Treble Cone - Staff Handbook 2013. Wanaka, New Zealand. p. 4.
  3. "Sale of Treble Cone Investments to Cardrona Alpine Resort approved". Otago Daily Times. 16 December 2019. Archived from the original on 14 May 2021. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  4. "Treble Cone 2020 Update". SnowNZ. Archived from the original on 27 December 2020.
  5. Roundhill, Ski. "About Roundhill". Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  6. "Treble Cone Mountain Stats". Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  7. "Aspiring Guides Backcountry Tours". Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  8. "Treble Cone ski and snowboard rentals". Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  9. "Lake Wanaka Tourism". Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  10. "Treble Cone Race Academy". Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  11. "Aspiring Avalanche Dogs". Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  12. "Rookie Instructor Academy". Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  13. "Tai Poutini Polytechnic Ski Patrol Certificate". Retrieved 2014-01-14.
  14. Haggart, Matthew. "Gondola project shelved at skifield". Otago Daily Times. Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  15. "Treble Cone eyes $20m gondola". The Press. 14 July 2006.
  16. "Australians robbed of bright future in NZ crash". Fairfax. 19 July 2004.