Hit the slopes at some of the best New Zealand ski resorts. Find out where to stay, how to get there and where to ski.
With a cooler climate than Australia, stunning snow-covered mountains and 18 main ski resorts to choose from, it's no surprise we flock to New Zealand each winter in search of fresh powder.
But with the resorts spread across four ski areas on two islands, it's not so easy choosing a place to experience the snow. Whether you're looking to party or unwind after a day on the mountain, there's a resort for you. Read on to find the your perfect fit.
Top New Zealand Ski Resorts
Across its two main islands, New Zealand has 18 major commercial ski areas, making it a heaven for snow enthusiasts. Where you choose to stay is up to you, though we've broken down some of the main attractions to make life that much easier.
Resorts: The Remarkables, Cardrona, Treble Cone & Coronet Peak
Queenstown is home to four of the most tourist-friendly ski fields in the south, The Remarkables, Cardrona, Coronet Peak and Treble Cone.
The magnificence of The Remarkables goes without saying. Craggy peaks dot the landscape, narrow chutes and off-piste powder await, and three sunny wide open bowls aim to please the most intrepid skier.
Cardrona is more understated and boasts the largest ski area that can be easily accessed from Queenstown. It's New Zealand’s "fun and friendly" mountain, as its famous for its learner-friendly slopes and dedicated kids’ centres.
Coronet Peak attracts night owls and early risers with its Night Skiing and Fast Tracks options, which allow skiers extended snow-time. It has dedicated race training facilities for world-class athletes and their races.
Treble Cone is this island’s largest ski area at 550 ha. It has the longest vertical rise in the Southern Lakes (705m), 4km-intermediate runs, more intermediate and advanced terrains than any other resort in the south, and delivers on views, with Lake Wanaka and Mt Aspiring both within sight.
Resorts: Cardrona, Treble Cone & Snow Farm
An hour from Queenstown's Airport lies the smaller and less touristy ski resort of Wanaka. Renowned for its church on the lake, the resort caters for snow bunnies wishing to kick the powder off Cadrona, Treble Cone and Snow Farm.
Cadrona and Treble Cone are alpine resorts with Snow Farm being the area's choice for cross-country skiing. Pro much?
All ski fields are within a 30-40 minute drive from Wanaka making it possible to sample and savour each and every one of them during your stay. Helisking is also available for you adrenaline-junkies wishing to kiss the sky with your boards and skis.
Resorts: Mt Hutt, Mt Cheeseman, Craigieburn, Mt Olympus, Temple Basin & Porters
On the northern tip of the South Island, Christchurch is a gateway to more than a handful of ski resorts including Mt Hutt, Mt Cheeseman, Craigieburn (pictured), Mt Olympus, Temple Basin and Porters. Most are dedicated to the seasoned skier and snowboarder, so if a beginner's run is what you're after you'd best look to more family friendly ski resorts.
Perhaps the most infamous of the lost, Mt Hutt isoften called the "Capital of Speed". It regularly hosts social and racing events amidst a spectacular backdrop which includes Mt Cook, the Canterbury Plains and the Pacific Ocean. As a bonus, it’s only a 90-minute drive from Christchurch.
Fields like Mt Cheeseman, Craigieburn and Mt Olympus are also favourites for pros, each boasting runs of 2km with few easy trails for beginners while Temple Basin and Porters are ideal for intermediates of all grades. Each has at least 25% beginner runs and ample hectares of skiable terrain to share with higher level snowboarders and skiers.
Resorts: Roundhill, Ohau & Mt Dobson
Location: Lake Tekapo
Roundhill, Ohau and Mr Dobson are your family-friendly, hands-up-if-you’re-a-beginner’s heaven.
Well-serviced beginners’ slopes come equipped with excellent instructors and gentle rises and dips and wide open learning areas that never get too crowded, even during the peak periods.
Those leaning toward the more intermediate and advanced categories should not be turned off by this as they can head off-piste to more challenging chutes and black runs that dare to grace the summits.
Resorts: Whakapapa & Turoa
Location: Mt Ruapehu
Whakapapa and Turoa are both on the North Island, on the north-eastern and south-western sides of Mt Ruapehu, respectively.
It’s New Zealand’s biggest and busiest ski area. Whakapapa offers a variety of trails, suitable for beginners to the more advanced, while Turoa is more of an adrenaline junkie’s dreamscape. It houses the largest vertical drop of any resort in Australasia (722m), challenging black runs, natural half pipes forged by the might of the volcano, and hidden powder stashes.
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Where to go and when
Unlike Australia, which is pretty much limited to the snowy mountains in southern New South Wales and northern Victoria, New Zealand has ski slopes stretching from North Island to South Island - with the majority being in the south.
New Zealand's ski season begins late-June and continues into October. By July, most of the mountains ares usually open and blanketed in a snow, ready for you to shred. Since the further south you go, the colder it gets, you're likely to get better conditions on the South Island toward the beginning and end of the season.
Travel insurance. When on a ski or snowboarding holiday, you should never underestimate the power of travel insurance, even if you are a pro. Sometimes the weather may let you down, icy patches could appear in the most unexpected places, or a novice skiier might make a wrong turn... into you. Before you leave on your ski trip, do some research and opt-in for an insurance package to suit your needs.
New Zealand ski holiday packages
Ready hit the pow-pow? Book a package deal to save on ski hire and chair lift passes - because skiing doesn't have to be an expensive holiday unless you want to make it that way.
You should consider what kind of snow activity you’re seeking. Skiing and snowboarding can be had virtually everywhere, but New Zealand is also an exceptional destination to cut your teeth at heli skiing and snowcat skiing.
Heli and snowcat skiing (arriving on the slopes by helicopter and snowcat, respectively, as opposed to a chairlift) will provide you with the chance to ski off piste: ungroomed runs in the back country without a set trail to guide you or a beginner to get in your way.
Other activities to book and enjoy when in New Zealand
Because you can. Obviously.