Coronet Peak (5,400 ft) is a prominent peak in north-west Otago named by the explorer-surveyor James McKerrow, probably because of the shape of the rocks comprising the summit. The peak overlooks the Queenstown and lower Shotover districts and is a popular tourist attraction, both for winter sports and for summer excursions. It has become well-known for its excellent ski-ing (May to September) and is accessible by road from Queenstown. Although the peak does not support a permanent snow field, the winter snow lies for an unusually long period on the southern slopes. This is because the low angle which the snow field presents to the winter sun keeps melting to a minimum. In addition, the partly slumped condition of the mountainside gives rise to a hillocky diversified slope, which introduces variety into the ski-ing. Public facilities on the ski field include five club lodges, car parks, four large ski tows, and “The Chateau”, a tourist facility with cafeteria controlled by the Mount Cook and Southern Lakes Tourist Co. The nearest town offering tourist accommodation and facilities is Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu.
by Bryce Leslie Wood, M.SC., New Zealand Geological Survey, Dunedin.