When it comes to knowing where to shred it, we've got you covered! Keep reading to learn which 5 ski fields you must visit in New Zealand.
New Zealand is made up of 2 small islands in the South Pacific but definitely does not have that tropical climate and holds itself as a pretty sweet location in the winter months if you love spending that time on the snow! In the center of the North Island you can actually ski on an active volcano! No joke! Mt Ruapehu, the highest peak in the North Island, boasts 2 of the best skiing locations in the North Island. Whakapapa ski field is on the Northern side of the mountain and is actually the largest Ski Field area in New Zealand! Then you have Turoa Ski Field residing on the South-west side.
It's amazing really that we can have snow on both Islands as they are so different in landscape and temperature. The South Island is where you'll find most of the ski/snowboard action and with over 30 ski fields including historic club fields, cat skiing, heli skiing and your bigger branded fields there is definitely something for everyone!
It was hard, but we have narrowed the list down to our favorite five! Sure to keep you in the pow game for your time New Zealand winter!
Cardrona Alpine Resort
Cardrona Alpine Resort nestles itself within the Crown Range, just outside of Wanaka, New Zealand. The Crown Range road is a pretty gnarly piece of highway in snowy weather and is the highest sealed road in New Zealand at 1076m. It is Wanaka's home field and just over an hour drive from Queenstown. It is very easily accessed by a 14km access road from the highway right up to the base building, with a car park halfway up at "Valley View" chair lift for those season pass holders.
The ski field is one of New Zealand's most popular and with a diverse range of terrain it makes sense as there is something for everyone from beginners through intermediate and more advanced riders right up to expert and professional snow junkies!
Although there is a vast amount of terrain to explore at Cardrona it is a special place if you're into riding the park. Cardrona holds the majority of the park events such as the slope style, half pipe and big air competitions and the best thing is you can watch all the action while riding the chairlift that travels right above the slope style course!
Flying Kiwi will help book you ski transport, rentals and passes for Cardrona during our winter trips where we'll be spending a few days in Queenstown.
One of the first thing you'll notice while making your way to Ohau is just how incredibly beautiful the area is! Ohau is nestled in the middle of the Mckenzie high country which is famous for it's mountain views and turquoise blue glacial lakes. To access the ski field you'll pass by the stunning Lake Ohau which is filled by rivers running off the Southern Alps and is the smallest of three glacial lakes in the Mckenzie basin all of which are simply incredible in their own right!
The ski field itself is a fairly small, family run operation with only one chairlift that is used to access a large bowl with a surprising amount of terrain. There are a few groomed runs but the real magic of this place happens with a good dusting of snow as the off-piste areas are awesome to explore as you navigate steep chutes and pop off natural kickers while heading back to the lift for the next lap!
After a long day hitting the slopes the other feature of this great place is being able to stay right at the bottom of the access road at the famous Ohau Lodge. Staying the night here will make your experience even more special as you enjoy some real Mckenzie Country hospitality with a 3 course meal that changes daily before resting up in your comfortable lodge room and in the morning enjoy a buffet breakfast ready to charge the mountain for another day!
Travel to Ohau on our great winter trips, we'll be spending the night in Ohau Lodge and a offering a full day up the mountain on all of our great winter tours!
Mt Hutt was voted New Zealand's best ski resort and it's no surprise as it is home to one of the largest ski-able areas in the country. The mountain belongs to the NZSki franchise that also owns the Remarkables and Coronet Peak in Queenstown whose trade mark is based around terrain for all levels and great onsite facilities from the restaurants and cafes to the rentals area and snow shops where you can get everything you need for a great day on the slopes on the mountain!
Mt Hutt is historically always the first ski field to open in the southern hemisphere each season so there is plenty of time for locals and visitors to come check out this mountain. Being in the Canterbury high country the ski generally gets reliable snow fall each year and because of its proximity to Christchurch, only a 2 hour drive, it is one of the most popular ski fields in the country.
Although many people travel from Christchurch to access the snow the best place to stay is Methven which is only 30 minutes drive to the snow! During the summer months this is a small rural service town but during the winter is goes through a dramatic transformation becoming a hive of activity as the town caters for those going up the mountain. Cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels lie dormant during the summer but come to life in winter and it's a great place to base yourself if you're travelling up the mountain.
Although many of New Zealand's famous ski fields are in the South Island it may come as a surprise that the largest ski area in the country is actually on the North Island. Whakapapa is a large ski area situated on the slopes of the North Island's highest peak Mt Ruapehu. There are a few things about this ski field that make it unique but perhaps the most impressive is that Mt Ruapehu is an active volcano!
Major eruptions usually occur about 50 years apart with the last being in 1996 however there are smaller volcanic events that cause ash clouds and lahars (mud flows) which have impacted the ski fields in the past. While visiting New Zealand you'll soon realize that people are willing to get on with things even though there are many challenges to living on two small islands in the south pacific and sudden weather changes, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes so building a ski field on an active volcano was no problem at all!
Unfortunately our current winter tours only travel around the South Island but if you have a little more time after our trip south then definitely think about heading North to visit this awesome mountain!
Another Ski Field operated by the NZSki franchise, Coronet Peak is the oldest commercial ski field in New Zealand and the closest ski area to the ever popular resort town of Queenstown! The ski field is only a 30 minute drive from downtown Queenstown so it attracts a vast number of people when the conditions are good and with all NZSki fields they offer the same great rentals, lessons and pass deals.
The terrain here again has a great mix of beginner, intermediate and more advanced runs however the conditions can become quite challenging if there has been a lack of snow fall as this field is actually quite a bit lower than most major ski fields in New Zealand. On the flip side to that problem when there has been snow most locals will agree that Coronet is their favorite field that turns into a completely different animal when the off-piste becomes accessible.
There are a few unique features of the field including night skiing where it's possible to ski after dark on pisted runs that are illuminated by flood lights. Coronet also has some great steep sections for more advanced downhill skiers and each year it attracts the best of the best to compete in downhill slalom events during the Winter Games.
We will be staying in Queenstown on our winter tours and we can organize everything you need for an awesome day up Coronet Peak!