Although New Zealand isn’t especially well-known globally as a ski and snowboard destination it nonetheless has plenty to offer, including world class ski areas for every level of expertise from total beginner to seasoned pro. Skiing New Zealand style and snowboarding are possible on both the North and South Island with the ski season typically running from late June until late October. At Whakapapa on the North Island, summer skiing on Christmas day is sometimes possible in a good season.
Great ski routes New Zealand
The North Island’s ski fields, located on live volcanoes, are typically the more extensive of the two islands’ options although the South Island actually has more ski fields. The largest ski fields offer all the facilities you would associate with large, commercial ski areas such as snow grooming, snow making, extensive lift networks and well organised base facilities with accommodation, equipment hire, shops and eateries.
The smaller ski fields, which are usually operated by clubs, offer a generally more laid back and casual experience and typically open a little later than the large fields – around late June or early July.
All of the larger fields and some of the smaller ones offer full rental of equipment and clothing and the towns of Queenstown, Wanaka and Whakapapa all have a wide range of options in this department as well.
Snowboarding New Zealand style
The South Island’s Main Ski Fields
Remarkables – 26 km from Queenstown
This large commercial 700 hectare ski field, with its sun-trap, north facing slopes, is made up of 3 major bowls which cater for complete beginners to experts. Shuttles to the ski area run regularly from Queenstown.
Coronet Peak – 18 km from Queenstown
Every level of skier and rider is catered for here at this large commercial area of 280 skiable hectares. It has a dedicated novice and learner area, night skiing under lights and early ski starts on Fridays and Saturdays. Regular shuttles run from Queenstown.
Cardrona – 34 km from Wanaka/ 58 km from Queenstown
Here, all levels are catered for with superb facilities including a purpose built children’s facility. Along with Mackenzie Country’s Ohau, Cardrona is considered to be the best option for snowboarders with parks and pipes aplenty for all skill levels.
Treble Cone – 26 km from Wanaka
Off piste skiing is possible here for the experts and there are also plenty of leaner slopes for beginners.
Snow Park – 35 km from Wanaka/55 km from Queeenstown
With its 22 ft halfpipe and range of boxes, rails and jumps this is where the freestylers flock. Sledding, night riding and skiing, ski-school and transport from both Wanaka and Queenstown are available.
Wairorua Snow Farm – 50 km of groomed trails are offered at New Zealand’s only cross-country ski facility.
Mt Dobson, Fairlie – perfect for families and beginners, this ski area also offers ample terrain for more advanced skiers with a daily bus service to get you to the slopes.
Roundhill, near Lake Tekapo – with views of Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook as you ski or ride, this ski field features the world’s longest and steepest rope tow. There is a freestyle area complete with jumps, rollers, rails and boxes and access to some back country skiing.
Ohau, near Twizel – widely recognised as the best option for snow boarders, along with Wanaka’s Cardrona field, it is also the place where those seeking lively après ski options descend.
Mt Hutt – club field open to the public.
Hanmer Springs – club field open to the public.
Mt Lyford – with 30% of this small commercial field given to beginners, this area is ideal for families.
Mt Cheeseman – friendly, casual club fields open to all.
Mt Olympus, Ryton Valley – 45 km from Windwhistle – all levels catered for at this wide open, south facing bowl.
Craigieburn Valley Ski Club – 150 hectares for all skill levels are on offer at this club site with accommodation available from simple bunks to family rooms.
Porters ski area – the closet ski area to Christchurch with snowmaking and grooming, a rental department and ski lessons on offer.
Helipark, Mt Potts Lodge – a luxury choice for dedicated and serious skiers and boarders which gives helicopter access to 380 hectares of back country skiing and riding.
Arthur’s Pass National Park
Temple Basin, 4 km from Arthur’s Pass village – the very casual and friendly atmosphere of this club field, mostly skied by locals, has 320 skiable hectares on n/w slopes for lots of sun. Accommodation is offered on site in the form of lodges and all-inclusive ski packages are available.
The North Island’s Main Ski Fields
Whakapapa and Turoa – these ski fields are the largest on offer in New Zealand with 1050 skiable hectares and the longest vertical drop in the whole of Australasia. The ski lifts access both areas where there are ample leaner areas, terrain parks for freestylers and over 50 maintained and groomed runs. Transport is available from Whakapapa and Ohukane.
Turoa – see above
Tukino – on the east of Mount Ruapehu is this small, uncrowded club field.
Mt Taranaki, Manganui Ski Area – this Stratford Mountain Club field offers a no-frills ski option for all expertise levels which is almost always the cheapest on offer in New Zealand. Accommodation is possible on site in a modern lodge.
www.fourcorners.co.nz offers a wonderful chart so that you can directly compare each ski field in terms of percentage of terrain given to beginners/intermediate/advanced, number of lifts and day pass costs.
Great skiing for all the family
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