Carving Up the White Stuff - Skiing New Zealand

 
Carving Up the White Stuff - Skiing New Zealand

When?

In June as the ski season draws to a close in Europe and North America and summer in South East Asia starts to heat up, it's time to adventure down to ice-cool New Zealand’s South Island and enjoy an exhilarating winter experience - pristine powder paradise. If you really want diversity when carving up the white stuff, it is here you will undoubtedly experience heaven when Skiing in New Zealand. The island is dominated by the Southern Alps peaking at 3000m and running 500k along almost its length. These are the backbone of the island and contain more than 360 glaciers and with a season that lasts to November this makes the skiing boarding possibilities limitless. 

Skiing New Zealand's South Island

New Zealand's fields are spread widely throughout the Southern Alps with commercial ski fields, club ski fields, Nordic cross-country, and heli-ski areas. They provide a broad range of skiing terrain, from cool running on carefully groomed downhill, to cross-country touring routes, and the ultimate challenge of off-piste descents. Snowboarders will never run out of challenges to go faster downhill, higher on the half-pipe and more daring on the ramps all that can give you that maximum buzz.

Heli- Guiding operators cover an extensive range of off-piste skiing throughout the Southern Alps and guides will take you by helicopter to ski or board some of the most pristine untracked snow you can find amongst these world-class mountains. The Tasman Glacier near Mount Cook can provide you with a spine-tingling adventure, enjoyed by small groups with professional guides sporting the ultimate in modern safety gizmo’s you can grit your teeth, suck down that adrenalin and know in the back of your head your flying with the best. If you want to party and are looking for the après ski and board scene, then the three main centre’s to hang - Queenstown, Wanaka or Canterbury. They all make ideal base’s with fields close by and all have wilderness heliskiing available.

Queenstown's Ski Resorts

The largest and most commercial of the three is noted for its excellent shopping and range of  luxury lodge accommodation surrounded by stunning alpine scenery. Being New Zealand’s self-proclaimed extreme sports capital, you can try bungee jumping, sky diving, whitewater rafting, skiing and boarding. The aprés ski scene is legendary with a huge number of bars, restaurants and night clubs which buzz throughout the season. Also worth noting is Queenstown’s Winter Festival during July offers 10 days of fun and festivities on and off the slopes with races, carnival fireworks, night skiing and music. All this is very accessible with it own international airport. The two ski fields close to the town are Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.

Coronet Peak

Just twenty minutes from town, Coronet Peak is a firm favourite of visitors and locals alike. With state-of-the-art lifts and snowmaking equipment, Coronet Peak offers premium skiing and riding for all levels. Rolling trails with secret verticals, dips and drops offer the seasoned skier something to get their teeth into, while the wide-open runs are perfect for beginners and intermediates. A dedicated novice area makes learning super easy here.

With supervised children's programs and early learning centre for children three months and older, even the smallest family members will adore their day here.

Skiable Area: 280 hectares (691 acres) 

Terrain:12% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 48% Advanced 

Lifts: 1 high-speed six-seater chair, 2 high-speed quad chairs, 1 T-bar, 4 carpet lifts

Night Skiing: Night Skiing is available on Friday and Saturday nights. Coronet is home to the Winter Festival.

Take a look at our 5 Day Queenstown Snow Fix Ski Holiday

The Remarkables

The Remarkables are set in a vast natural amphitheater high in the rugged ranges above Lake Wakatipu, 24km southeast of Queenstown. During September the field hosts the Remarkables Spring Festival with snow sports, events, and live music. This popular ski field at the shore of the lake offers versatile terrain, a relaxed atmosphere and a wonderful sense of fun. With fantastic learning facilities, it is the perfect field for beginners and younger skiers.

Freeskiers and snowboarders swarm to the mountain’s varied trails, terrain park and backcountry areas with the powder bowls and off-piste runs providing challenges for the more advanced. If you can tear yourselves away from the slopes, why not rent some hiking boots and head for the top of the ridgeline? The views of the Southern Alps are breathtaking. Or challenge family and friends to a snow sled race down the mountain.

Skiable Area: 220 hectares 

Terrain: 30% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 30% Advanced 

Lifts: 3 quad chairs, 3 surface conveyor lifts

Take a look at our 7 Day Queenstown Winter Playground Holiday

Lake Wanaka's Ski Resorts

Wanaka is a picturesque jewel among New Zealand's major ski destinations. Lake Wanaka runs away to the north of the lakeside town providing stunning views of Mt Aspiring National Park and the bush-clad West Coast toward Haast Pass. The situation of the lake (to the north) also enables sunshine to flood into the town even in mid-winter providing a warm environment for the nonskier (or tired skier) to enjoy more leisurely pursuits. Wanaka is often likened to Queenstown but 20 years ago - but she is rapidly catching up and with only a 1.5-hour drive from Queenstown Airport she offers a more chilled environment to enjoy your aprés ski. Wanaka is base for both Cardrona and Treble Cone fields.

 

Treble Cone Ski Field

The largest field in the South Island, Treble Cone is a 30-minute drive from Wanaka and has developed a reputation as the GoTo field for advanced skiers and boarders enticed by the regions longest vertical, un-crowded slopes, legendary off-piste runs with awesome half pipes and a terrain that is highly varied with challenging gullies, wide faces and exhilarating runs - both the New Zealand freestyle and the Norwegian Alpine ski team train at Treble Cone. With regular northwest snow dumps throughout winter, the field regularly has awesome powder days, especially fun on the Longest Run at 4km (2.5miles) long.

Terrain: Beginner Terrain 10%, Intermediate Terrain 45% and Advanced Terrain 45%

Slope Facilities: include a bar and café, a snow school with a FREE beginner surface lift, a childcare centre, ski and snowboard rental kiosk and medical centre.

Take a look at our 9 Day Luxury South Island Ski Holiday 

Cardrona Alpine Resort


At around a 30-minute drive from Wanaka is Cardrona, which is known as the family field and provides 3 distinct recreational areas each with its own degree of difficulty making it a great field for beginners and intermediate abilities. Cardrona is ideal for those wanting to learn to ski or snowboard and particularly with its several purpose-built beginner runs which lead onto gentle wide-open spaces, two surface conveyor lifts for learners result in an accelerated learning curve. Cardrona also has the only beginners trail in the country that runs along a mountain’s peak with beginners learning while enjoying breathtaking views over Lake Wanaka to Queenstown.

Snowboarding: A lot of emphases has also been placed on attracting snowboarders and the field offers more in the way of specific runs for shredders (snowboarders) than most New Zealand fields and now the Snowboard National Championships are held here.

Terrain: 25% Beginners, 55% Intermediate, 20% advanced

Slope Facilities: Include 3 terrain parks with a wide range of jumps and rails and two half-pipes with a dedicated platter lift, and a great gravity cross course.

Take a look at our 13 Day Self Drive Winter Adventure Circuit 

Canterbury's Ski Resorts

The Canterbury region stretches from the Ocean to the Alps, contrasting sweeping plains and mountain peaks. Just 1 ½ hours from Christchurch, Mt Hutt is a giant amongst giants that boasts the longest ski season in New Zealand. Nearby Porters is a haven for learners on up. After you’ve explored the slopes, stay in Methven – a town for snow sports enthusiasts looking to conquer nearby slopes. Other noteworthy fields are Ohau in the South and Amuri in the North.

Methven Canterbury's Ski Town 

Surrounded by the chequerboard fields of the Canterbury Plains and dwarfed by a magnificent backdrop of mountains, this once quiet, rural village and has a lot to offer snow lovers from within New Zealand and overseas. It is also the place to be if you wish to fish, play golf, jetboat, tramp or bike ride. Not all the excitement goes on in the Great Outdoors, Methven has a lively nightlife, with a variety of restaurants, bars and a nightclub. Situated only 92 kms from Christchurch’s international airport it is accessible to all. The two most noteworthy fields are Mt Hutt and Mt Potts.

Mount Hutt Ski Field

Voted New Zealand's Best Ski Resort six years in a row (2015 - 2020), Mt Hutt boasts wide-open terrain for all ski and snowboard ability levels. Superb conditions, spectacular terrain and laid-back kiwi hospitality. Mt Hutt is one of the largest and highest ski areas in the South Island, providing an unparalleled big mountain experience for skiers and snowboarders. It’s perfect for every age and ability and fantastic for families.

Facilities: Restaurant and cafe, retail outlet, rental service, storage

Terrain Park: Four freestyle terrain parks – Extensive freestyle features across the mountain and a boarder/skier cross (subject to conditions).

Elevation: 2086m

Lifts: 1 high-speed eight-seater (New Zealand's first), 1 high-speed six-seater, 1 triple chair

Take a look at our 8 Day New Zealand Winter Family Holiday

 

Ohau Ski Field

Somewhat of a hidden gem, this unpretentious uncrowded field in the Mount Cook Region is a New Zealand favorite and offers great ski touring with stunning views. Known for its exceptional terrain and snowboarding facilities as it is for its apres-ski parties – a great way to meet locals and it is said the vibe is so sociable that everyone becomes an instant friend. The ski field name originates from the nearby Lake Ohau so the obvious characteristic of the area is the gorgeous views of the turquoise lake and the surrounding mountains.

Terrain Grading: Beginner 20%, Intermediate 50%, Advanced 30%

Hospitality Features: Day Lodge with log burner, big tables, cafeteria with good food, espresso coffee and souvenir shop

Terrain Park: We have 2 Terrain Parks - 1 for beginners and 1 for intermediate/advanced with lots of features.  A new PB400W, winch cat has been purchased to assist with Terrain Park construction.

Lifts: 1 Chairlift (double) - 795 skiers/hour, 1 Platter - 400 skiers/hour, 1 Snow Mat - 1,100 skiers/hour

Highest Lift 1,825m (5,987 ft)

Lift Base 1,425m (4,675 ft) Vertical Drop 400m (1,312 ft)

Mount Potts Backcountry Skiing

Dubbed 'the new spot X' by a visiting La Grave guide, Mt.Potts Backcountry is the highest snowfield in the South Island and provides snowcat accessed powder skiing and snowboarding. Heli lifted from the lodge each morning, in small guided groups, everyone is outfitted with an avalanche transceiver, cat rides all day, a picnic lunch, and transport back down the mountain is all in a days skiing at Mt. Potts. An extreme field for skiing and snowboarding you drop in at the highest point of 2254m and ski or board down to the top hut at 1750m – pure heaven! You can arrange to fly to Mt.Potts from Queenstown, Christchurch or Tekapo.

Club Fields 

The South Island also boasts the largest number of club fields in the Southern Hemisphere which should not be overlooked by the demanding thrill-seeker. While not offering the same standards of facilities as the larger, commercial fields mentioned above, these fields do however offer some of the best skiing around although it may be a little harder to get to. This extra effort can be what makes skiing that much more rewarding.

Club Fields worth checking out are: Craigieburn Valley, Mt Cheeseman, Broken River, Mount Olympus, Temple Basin Ski Area and Fox Peak.

 

Skiing New Zealand's North Island

The North Island, without a major alpine range of its own, has two commercial fields, The Central North Island is home to New Zealand's only skiable volcano, Mt Ruapehu. A landscape of golden tussock, tumbling rivers and three awe-inspiring mountains, dual World Heritage-listed Tongariro National Park is an incredible place for winter snow sports. The action centres on Mt Ruapehu, the North Island’s highest mountain. Two of its three ski areas – Whakapapa and Tūroa – are the largest in New Zealand, and boast some of the country’s longest ski runs with volcanic features and vast views, accessed by state-of-the-art lifts.

Turoa Ski Area, Mt Ruapehu

Wild, playful and mighty. Turoa is home to Mt Ruapehu's south-west facing slopes, which are renowned for huge snow bases, unique volcanic terrain, wide trails & epic terrain parks. It has the longest vertical descent of any ski area in Australasia and also boasts New Zealand’s highest chairlift - the Highnoon Express.

Turoa Terrain Park: If getting quality park time is your thing, then Turoa Terrain Park is the place to go. Turoa has a dedicated freestyle terrain park located just below the top of the Giant Chairlift. There are medium terrain features for intermediate and advanced riders and an XL Park, offering big kickers for advanced riders.

Terrain Grading: Beginner 20% | Intermediate 55% | Advanced 25%

Whakapapa Ski Area, Mt Ruapehu

Whakapapa Ski Area is New Zealand’s largest ski area with over 65 trails to discover, ranging from beginner and intermediate to extreme. 550 hectares of incredible terrain awaits you! Whakapapa is NZ's largest ski area & boasts the country's premier beginner facility 'Happy Valley' along with vast intermediate and advanced trails. Explore everything from cruisy groomers to exhilarating chutes, bumps & drops, made all the more exciting by the natural volcanic terrain.

Lifts: Whakapapa Ski Resort has 12 lifts, of which there is 1 gondola, 3 quad chair lifts (only one high speed), 3 T-bars, and 4 magic carpets.

Terrain Park: It’s a wide ski area at the top, whilst the lower part of the mountain funnels into a mess of narrow passage and merging trails.

Terrain Grading: Beginner 30% | Intermediate 45%| Advanced 25%

Skiing Manganui – Mount Taranaki

The ski resort Manganui – Mount Taranaki is located in Taranaki (The bottom of the North Island). For skiing and snowboarding, there are 10.5 km of slopes available. 4 lifts transport the guests. The winter sports area is situated between the elevations of 1,260 and 1,680 m.

Manganui Ski Area consists of gentle intermediate runs and open bowls. Brown Bear Ski & Snowboard Area Guide has rated Manganui as family friendly, and also to have outstanding steep runs for skiers and snowboarders.

Overview...

For a truly hassle-free New Zealand Skiing Holiday, let someone else worry about putting the icing on the cake, with everything tailored exactly as you desire.

Get In Touch

To explore your options further, our Free Planning Service is here to help. Our Locally-Based Travel Specialists will work closely with you to create a trip tailor-made to your exact specifications. We love New Zealand with a passion and can't wait for you to get in touch.

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Brent Narbey
By
Brent Narbey
: 2 May 2021 (Last updated: 12 May 2021)

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