Where to Find the Best Lines this Season
Treble Cone or "TC" for short is the South Island’s largest ski area, and with so much terrain available it can be hard to know where to start. So to help you find the best lines on the mountain, here’s a local skiers guide to TC.
Despite its reputation as being a resort for big mountain skiers, Treble Cone is also an amazing place to learn to ski or snowboard. There is a beginner’s area which offers epic views! A rarity on the learners' slopes of other resorts.
It’s a little-known fact that the beginner’s lifts are free. Yes FREE! The Magic Carpet and Platter Lift next to the base area access Nice n’ Easy - a dedicated area for learning to ski and snowboard. The area is separate to the main trails, so that beginners have the space and freedom to safely practice and learn new skills.
Tip: Book a lesson at the snow sports school, there are classes for all ages and abilities.
Once you’ve mastered the basics and are feeling confident, then venture up the Home Basin Express 6-seater chairlift and make your way down the gentle, winding slopes of Easy Rider. If you book a beginner lesson at the Snow Sports School, then chairlift access to Easy Rider is also FREE and included with your lesson! Once at the top, a visit to the Altitude Espresso cafe is highly recommended – for both the coffee, the pizza and the view.
Around 40% of Treble Cone’s trails are suitable for intermediate skiers and riders and offers the longest vertical descent in the Southern Lakes region.
A great warm up run to build your confidence is Easy Rider or Roller Coaster from the top of the Home Basin Express chairlift. Then, once you’ve found your ski legs, progress across to the Saddle Basin quad. From the chair, you get a great view across the whole of the Saddle Basin and can easily pick out the different trails and plan your run. From the top head right right and traverse across Upper High Street to access Raffills Run and then into Pete’s Treat which takes you back to the Saddle Quad. If the legs are feeling good, then try the slightly steeper, but immaculately groomed, Side Saddle or Saddle Back trails.
Return to the Home Basin from the top of the Saddle Quad by following High Street back to the top of the 6-seater and then down Main Street – this is a nice long run all the way down to the base area, providing 4km of thigh burn!
Treble Cone is known for its advanced terrain. The Home Basin, the Powder Bowl and the chutes above it, are an advanced skier’s dream and you can pick a different line every run. The natural terrain with its ridges and gullies catch the snow and you can almost always find some great powder stashes even a few days after a storm.
The 6-seater in the Home Basin is fast and you can get back up to the top almost as fast as you can ski down. So be warned, by the end of a day or even lunchtime you’re likely to have 'jelly legs'!
The Matukituki Basin, accessed from the 6-seater, is a real hidden gem, that’s usually only frequented by the locals. It’s worth scoping out – if nothing else for the epic views of Mount Aspiring.
The Saddle Quad chairlift is the ideal vantage point to scope your lines in the Saddle Basin. For early-birds spend the morning carving-up the freshly groomed cords of South Ridge or Saddle Back and then work your way across the mountain taking in the natural pipes of Shooter, Bullet and Super Pipe. For the bold, Drop Off and Lower Mine Shaft can hold some great snow, both are directly under the chairlift – so expect an audience – and some hoots especially if you stack it!
Treble Cone offers some of New Zealand’s most revered inbound terrain for expert skiers.
The Summit Slopes are a rite of passage and the 20-minute hike from the top of the Saddle Quad will not only reward with fresh tracks on a powder day, but also some of the best mountain views in New Zealand.
Also accessed from the top of the Saddle chair is The Motatapu Basin, a series of steep, narrow chutes which offer a variety of challenging lines. From the top of the lift traverse left and high until you reach the control gate.
Skiers left will take your through The Meadows which can be loaded with pillows of wind-blown powder after a storm and lead into the inner chutes. You can traverse out from the inner chutes to the bottom of the Saddle Quad, but the traverse includes a few rocky ridges so it pays to check the conditions with Ski Patrol or find a friendly local to show you the best way out.
Skier’s-right of the control gate takes you through the Hollywood Bowl - which can hold some of the best snow on the mountain - and into the outer Motatapu chutes and Hollywood Boulevard. These outer chutes require a 20-minute hike back to the Quad Chairlift but if the snow is good and you get carried away and ski to the valley floor, be prepared for a long, hot hike back to the lift.
Due to the aspect and steepness of the expert terrain at Treble Cone it can be prone to avalanches, so it’s critical to obey the signs and respect the instructions of the Ski Patrol team. It’s also a good idea to always ski with a buddy.
There is some excellent side and backcountry ski touring which can be accessed from the top of the Saddle Quad. Tower’s Ridge, Wedding Cake and Gotlieb’s are all only a 30-minute skin from the Saddle Basin but be prepared for variable conditions and be aware that the avalanche risk can be high.
If you’re going touring, make sure that you check in with Ski Patrol at either the base area or the patrollers hut at the top of the Saddle Quad and leave details of your intentions and car number plate if you are planning an overnight trip. Always check the avalanche forecast before you depart and carry the required safety gear (transceiver, shovel & probe), and know how to use it!
Aspiring Guides offer a 1-day guided Treble Cone back-country tour which is a great option for those new to the mountain or ski-touring and the Mountain Safety Council offer excellent back-country and avalanche safety courses.