What is your idea of the perfect ski holiday? Great snow? Gentle slopes, or steeps for thrills? A variety of resorts? A buzzing après scene?
Where are you going to stage your New Zealand snow adventure? Below is a rundown of the main ski locations in New Zealand.
The New Zealand ski season runs from June through to October.
Geography to be admired
New Zealand has ideal geography producing the altitude and attitude required for spectacular snow conditions. From the Southern Alps, in the South Island that stand more than 3,700 metres tall in places to the North Island, where you ski or board on a volcano there are opportunities for everyone. Mt Ruapehu, the largest of three huge volcanoes that form Tongariro National Park, reaches to nearly 2,800 metres above sea level.
Most of New Zealand's ski areas open in mid-June and close around the beginning of October, providing more than four months of fun for skiers and riders. While every field is unique, they all offer recently upgraded facilities and terrain that ranges from easy-going beginners’ slopes to challenging black diamond runs. If you're after a more gentle approach, the ski-fields have excellent slopes and learners' areas specifically dedicated to novice skiers. Or, if you want a mountain all to yourself, heli-skiing will take you to remote slopes and glaciers far from the reach of road transport.
When your muscles need a day off from the slopes, there’s plenty to do in the local resort towns nearby the ski-fields. Take a blast in a jet boat, swing from a bungy or use your currency advantage to shop up a storm. At night, off-mountain après ski energy keeps bars and clubs going until the small hours.
Several ski areas, a crystal clear lake, lively apres ski culture and all the activity of a cosmopolitan resort town creates an enviable winter lifestyle in a spectacular environment. Direct flights into Queenstown, from Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne are available for your convenience, whether your winter ski holiday be for just a few days or several weeks.
Ski The Remarkables' three sunny bowls, marvel at the big mountain alpine vista or take on the finger chutes. The large beginner’s area and its North facing aspect make this one of the best places to learn in Australasia. An expanded crèche and kids centre, catering for little one’s from 3 months to young adults at 17 years, make this the logical family choice. Three terrain parks, including a beginner park and the only Burton Stash in the Southern Hemisphere ensures riders of all abilities can learn and progress in a safe and stimulating environment.
Coronet Peak is the local’s choice, with its diverse terrain, largest snowmaking system in the Southern Hemisphere and a base building that is world class ensures Coronet Peak offers a premium experience whatever your ability. At just 20 minutes away Coronet Peak is the closest ski area to downtown Queenstown and a must visit on any snow holiday in the region. When the sun goes down on Friday & Saturdays Coronet Peak lights up for night skiing.
Itching for more? Two words - heli ski. Choppers access Southern Alps terrain you’ve previously only met in your sleep. The ultimate adventure for advanced skiers and boarders, heli-skiing provides an opportunity to access some of the most pristine steeps available.
Lake Wanaka boasts Australasia’s largest skiable terrain with four world-class ski areas – Cardrona Alpine Resort, Treble Cone, Snow Farm and Snow Park – and the largest heli-ski region in the world outside of North America giving winter enthusiasts the most varied New Zealand skiing and snowboarding experience.
Over the Crown Range from Queenstown is Wanaka, a lakeside town that serves four world class ski and snowboard resorts. Cardrona Alpine Resort is loved for its wide open groomed slopes, terrain parks and family atmosphere, with a comprehensive kid’s centre. The high-speed chairlift in the Captain’s Basin means less time in queues and more time on the slopes.
Treble Cone is the largest ski area in the South Island and boasts some of the longest and most exhilarating runs in New Zealand, or simply relax on the sundeck taking in the world famous views over Lake Wanaka.
Across the Cardrona Valley on the Pisa Range are Snow Park NZ, the Southern Hemisphere’s only dedicated freestyle resort for boarders and skiers, and the Snow Farm with 55kms of well groomed cross country trails for beginners through to expert. Snow Park and Snow Farm both offer on-mountain accommodation for a true over night alpine experience..
Situated in the heart of the North Island, Mt Ruapehu is home to arguably New Zealand's biggest, longest and highest ski areas. Ski New Zealand’s only volcano on two ski areas that can be accessed with one lift pass; Whakapapa on the north-western flanks of the mountain and Turoa on the south-west. The resorts boast the longest season, from mid June until mid-October and on occasion there has been Christmas (mid-summer) skiing!
Whakapapa boasts New Zealand's premiere beginners' facility with its own dedicated slow-moving chairlift, ski school, rental area and café. More accomplished skiers will enjoy the huge variety of groomed intermediate and advanced trails and two exhilarating lift-accessed back-country areas.
Turoa on the south-western side has an abundance of wide groomed trails, New Zealand's only lift-accessed glacial skiing, a 4 km long run and three terrain parks. Turoa offers on-mountain childcare facilities for 2-5 year olds and an excellent beginners’ area with a carpet lift.
Christchurch - Canterbury
Just a 60 minute drive from Christchurch airport and nestled in the lee of the Southern Alps, Methven is on the doorstep of Mt Hutt Ski Field and an amazing space for a perfect winter holiday. Apres ski activities in this town are relaxed and fun with plenty of excellent restaurants, bars, friendly local pubs and entertainment. Prefer a day off the slopes? Methven has ample activities to sample such as jet boating, horse riding, hot air ballooning, mountain biking and 4WD high country adventures.
Just a 35 minute drive from Methven, Mt Hutt ski field offers the most complete terrain mix of any ski area in the South Island and is one of the largest ski areas in NZ. With plenty of runs for all skier/rider types, including a great beginner's area with a 140m long Magic Carpet. Mt Hutt also boasts superb advanced terrain and a great south facing basin with breathtaking views over the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific Ocean.
A leisurely half-day drive from Christchurch, the Mackenzie country is where you'll experience some of the most stunning views across the South Island including Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain. Base yourself at Tekapo and you have access to three main ski-fields which cater to all skill levels. Roundhill is a great choice for first timers, it is home to awesome beginner and intermediate runs. It's also family friendly due to it's smaller size. You'll find great powder runs at Ohau which also boasts spectacular views up to Aoraki Mt Cook and down to Lake Ohau. At Mt Dobson, one of the highest ski areas in New Zealand, you can experience big mountain skiing/boarding in a friendly and relaxed environment.