Top tips for riding the Skyline luge in New Zealand

The Skyline luge in Rotorua and Queenstown would have to be one of the best family-friendly activities in New Zealand!

Fun for people of all ages, it entertains teens and adults while still being suitable for younger children.

How though can you maximise your enjoyment on the luge though?

These top tips should help you on your way…

Tried-and-tested Skyline luge tips

Prepurchase your tickets online

By prepurchasing your gondola and luge tickets you’ll be able to use the express lane.

This will get you to the top and having fun much faster!

Arrive early during peak season

If you’re planning to visit around Christmas/New Year’s or during the busy summer season, it’s best to do so nice and early.

We arrived at 8:30am, got parking right out front, and were second in line. By opening time, there were at least 100+ people behind us and steadily growing….

Crystal M, NZTT member

Alternatively, visit later in the day when some guests will have moved on to other activities.

Wear the right gear

The luge tracks are exposed and offer little protection from sun or rain.

To ensure you have a great time, consider taking:

  • sunglasses
  • sunhat/cap (though you will wear a helmet on the luge)
  • sunscreen
  • a jacket
  • closed-toe shoes (leave the jandals at home)
  • bike gloves (a totally optional but fabulous addition to your kit)
  • A GoPro or camera (optional).

Put anything you don’t need in a small backpack so you can ride hands-free.

When it rains the luge carts will get wet. If that bothers you, you might like to carry a hand towel in your bag.

Food options

Food is available to purchase at both the Queenstown and Rotorua Skyline venues.

Both have a great buffet restaurant (known as the Stratosfare) and a cafe/takeaway eatery (which is much more affordable).

You’re also allowed to take your own food and drinks – a great tip, especially if travelling with young children or on a budget.

The luge is suitable for practically everyone

The luge really does work for a wide range of ages and confidence levels.

Kids 6+ (and 110cm or taller) are allowed to ride solo.

If your little one is 2 – 5 years of age and/or between 85cm and 109cm, they’re able to double up with an adult.

Our six year old loved it!!! She went slow the first run, but rocked the next four 🙂

Crystal M

The luge is also suitable for older visitors, assuming they can get up and down from the cart (which is close to ground level).

As the luge carts are powered by gravity, and you’ll be in charge of the steering and speed you can choose to go as fast or as slow as you like, again, making these tracks suitable for most people.

Your ticket includes a return trip on the gondola

You can only ride the main gondola up and down once, so plan your trip accordingly.

The chairlifts can be ridden multiple times, however. You’ll use them each time you start/end the luge (depending on whether you’re in Rotorua or Queenstown).

Rotorua-specific tips

Get your first ride ticked off quickly

Your first ride of the day in Rotorua is always on the scenic track (which is now known as the Tiki Tour Luge Track) – even if you’ve ridden there before.

This gives you a chance to practise your skills before being set loose on the more advanced tracks.

We recommend you head straight for this track when you arrive to get your stamp.

From there, you’ll have the choice of other tracks which have shorter lines.

Use the first chairlift

The first chairlift (when you come off the luge at the bottom) is normally faster… perhaps because it’s the newest loading zone and most of us (who’ve visited in the past) keep using the original one?

Both chairlifts give access to all luge tracks though, so there’s no advantage in using the second one (unless you notice it’s actually quieter during your visit).

Purchase the 5-run combo

We must have visited the luge in Rotorua half a dozen times – at least – but every time we go, the 5-ride combo is perfect.

The 3-ride combo is too short (by the time you have to give up one run to the beginner track).

By comparison, the 5-run combo gives you a chance to settle in on the first run, while still having another 4 runs to look forward to.

In our experience, it’s the perfect amount of luge-action.

Five runs was perfect! We got them all in in an hour, and it felt like the perfect amount! Tons of fun before the crowds and lines, and we felt we got the hang of it by run 2. We bought the five runs from the start, so just scanned the pass each time (without waiting in more lines to purchase more passes).

Crystal M

Make the most of the night luge

At certain times of the year, Rotorua Skyline light up the runs, allowing visitors to ride the luge after dark – and it’s a lot of fun!

If night rides are on offer, we suggest grabbing a 5-run combo, completing 2 or 3 rides just before it gets dark, then having dinner up the top, before riding your last 2 or 3 runs after dark.

The lights coming on, ready for night runs.

Snap a photo by the Rotovegas sign

It has to be done!

Queenstown-specific tips

Combine Skyline with another activity

Skyline in Queenstown is located right next to Kiwi Park.

If time allows, we recommend planning to visit both at the same time.

Rotorua or Queenstown Skyline – which is best?

The million-dollar question!

Though we love both, we recommend Rotorua if you’re most interested in the luge itself. It has longer and more exciting tracks – and more of them too.

Rotorua also has a wider variety of additional activities at the top of the gondola, including ziplines and a giant swing.

On the other hand, the views from the top of the Skyline in Queenstown are unbeatable!

The Queenstown gondola is also within easy walking distance of Queenstown, whereas most people will need to drive or get public transport to the Rotorua Skyline.

If time allows, why not try both out and let us know your preference in NZTT?

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