NZ's first Ice Castle opens at Queenstown skifield

The Ice Castle features tunnel slides, turrets, peep holes and a large throne. Photo: Coronet Peak
The Ice Castle features tunnel slides, turrets, peep holes and a large throne. Photo: Coronet Peak
A popular Queenstown ski field has transformed into an ice castle wonderland.

Coronet Peak has opened a new interactive experience called The Ice Slides - featuring tunnel slides, turrets, peep holes and a large throne - which has been created by professional ice artisans, including an award-winning ice carver.

The Ice Castle, which weighs 4000 tonnes, is the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

Guests will be able to race down winding slides encased entirely in ice and get those all-important photos perched on a frozen throne. The ice is illuminated at night with colour-changing LED lights which will add to the atmosphere of Coronet Peak's night skiing on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Nigel Kerr, Coronet Peak Ski Area Manager, says the experience is all about sharing the magic of winter, especially with those who don't ski or snowboard.

"The changing country-of-origin mix of New Zealand tourism means more people are attuned to sightseeing all year round, summer or winter. This is part of moving our product mix to appeal to them as well as our regular pass holders who will love the surprise."

Ice Castles CEO Ryan Davis said the icy attraction was the first for New Zealand.

"We love being able to bring our experience to the southern hemisphere. Our team is all about giving more people around the world another way to enjoy the outdoors together, make memories, and freeze time with their loved ones."

Utah-based Ice Castles is a seasonal entertainment company that creates elaborate, frozen castles, slides, and other structures each winter in six cities across North America.

Made entirely of frozen water, the giant structure at Coronet Peak has taken 52 days to build. A crew of six ice artisans from across the United States and Canada have moved to area to construct the experience.

The team has had its challenges, says Davis.

"For example, every new location needs new suppliers for items such as plumbing parts and hard hats. While these were easy to source locally, other items had to be shipped from overseas, and this required a lot of patience."

"Instead of a castle, we built something equally interactive and exciting. Ice slides, especially when you can race each other, are hugely popular, so we're delighted with the result."

Prices are $35 for 12 years and older, $29 for 6-11-year-olds, and 5 and under are free. Ticket sales are now available to purchase at http://icecastles.com/new-zealand, or with Coronet Peak guest services. Ice Castle will open every day at 10am.

The light display will operate on Coronet Peak's night ski evenings, running on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from late July.

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