The ultimate guide to New Zealand ski resorts 2021

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.

We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!

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.

Quickly compare Australia's best ski resorts:

DestinationSki-in and ski-out?DistanceLift pass price (1 day, adult)Lift pass price (2 days, adult)Lift pass price (3 days, adult)Is there a resort village
The RemarkablesNo45-minute drive from Queenstown$139$258$297Yes
CardronaYes1-hour drive from Queenstown$140$270$300Yes
Treble ConeNo1.5-hour drive from Queenstown$140$270$300Yes
Coronet PeakNo20-minute drive from Queenstown$139$258$297Yes
Snow FarmYes44-minute drive from Wanaka$45 (trail pass)$90 (trail pass)$135 (trail pass)Yes
Mt HuttNo1-hour-and-45-minute drive from Christchurch$139$258$295Yes
Mt CheesemanYes2-hour drive from Christchurch$85$170$255Yes
CraigieburnNo20-minute drive from Christchurch$85$170$255Yes
Mt OlympusYes2-hour drive from Christchurch$80$160$240Yes
Temple BasinNo2.5-hour drive from Christchurch$65 weekend / $55 midweek$130 weekend / $110 midweek$195 weekend / $165 midweekYes
PortersYes1.5-hour drive from Christchurch$99$198$297No
RoundhillNo48-minute drive from Lake Tekapo$95$190$285No
OhauNo1.5-hour drive from Lake Tekapo$113$226$339Yes
Mt DobsonNo40-minute drive from Lake Tekapo$90$180$270Yes
WhakapapaNo4-hour drive from Wellington$149$249$299Yes
TuroaNo4-hour drive from Wellington$149$249$299Yes

Check out the best snow deals in New Zealand this year


QueenstownNZ.Skiing

The Remarkables, Queenstown

Best for Queenstown proximity

The magnificence of The Remarkables goes without saying. Craggy peaks dot the landscape and narrow chutes and off-piste powder await. The three sunny, wide-open bowls aim to please the most intrepid skier.

  • Location: Queenstown
  • Runs and terrain: 30% beginner, 40% intermediate and 30% advanced
  • Skiable terrain: 220 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 357 metres

Pros

  • Great for beginners and families
  • Plenty of sightseeing and lookout opportunities
  • An easy drive with paved access road

Cons

  • No cash payments available
  • Expensive lift tickets
  • No on-mountain accommodation

Find accommodation in Queenstown


LakeWanakaTourism.Skiing

Cardrona, Queenstown

Best for lift variety

Cardrona is more understated and boasts the largest ski area that can be easily accessed from Queenstown. It's known as New Zealand's "fun and friendly" mountain because of its learner-friendly slopes and dedicated kids' centres.

  • Location: Cardrona Valley Rd, Cardrona, Queenstown
  • Runs and terrain: 25% beginner, 25% intermediate, 30% advanced and 20% expert
  • Skiable terrain: 400 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 600 metres

Pros

  • Half-day passes available
  • Balanced amount of space for beginners, intermediates and advanced skiers
  • Seven types of chair lifts to choose from

Cons

  • Lift queues tend to get incredibly busy
  • Limited snowfall
  • Not many terrains for experts

Find accommodation in Wanaka


mountain Views from the top of Treble Cone ski village

Treble Cone, Queenstown

Best for expert skiers

This is the South Island's largest ski area at 550 hectares. 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.

  • Location: Mt Aspiring Road, Wanaka
  • Runs and terrain: 10% beginner, 45% intermediate and 45% advanced
  • Skiable terrain: 550 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 700 metres

Pros

  • Incredible views of the lake and the mountains
  • Perfect for experts looking for a ski run
  • Plenty of space to ski with 550 hectares
  • One-hour, two-hour, half-day and full-day private lessons available

Cons

  • Not suitable for inexperienced skiers
  • Limited number of lifts
  • No on-mountain accommodation

Find accommodation in Queenstown


A male snowboarder blasts a heel side turn while snowboarding at Coronet Peak in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Coronet Peak, Queenstown

Best for night skiing

Night owls and early risers can rejoice with Coronet Peak's 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.

  • Location: Queenstown
  • Runs and terrain: 20% beginner, 45% intermediate and 35% advanced
  • Skiable terrain: 280 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 462 metres

Pros

  • After-dark skiing between 4pm - 9pm
  • Partake in the Meadow Fresh Dog Derby
  • Working towards a more sustainable experience

Cons

  • Isn't very large
  • Lack of tree line means skiers are less protected from chilly temperatures
  • Bad weather means there's low visibility

Find accommodation in Queenstown


Snow Farm New Zealand

Snow Farm, Wanaka

Best for cross-country skiing

Renowned for its church on the lake, the resort caters for snow bunnies wishing to kick the powder off Snow Farm. Snow Farm is also the area's choice for cross-country skiing.

Heli-skiing is also available for adrenaline junkies wishing to kiss the sky with their boards and skis.

  • Location: Snow Farm Access Rd, Cardrona Valley Rd, Wanaka
  • Runs and terrain: 40% beginner, 20% intermediate and 40% advanced
  • Skiable terrain: 55 km
  • Vertical drop: 445 metres

Pros

  • One-, two- and three-day trail passes available
  • Good mix of beginner and intermediate trails

Cons

  • No ski lifts
  • Fewer advanced trails
  • No terrain parks

Find accommodation in Wanaka


Craigieburn

Mt Hutt, Christchurch

Best for all ski levels

Perhaps the most infamous of the lot, Mt Hutt is often 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.

  • Location: Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Runs and terrain: 25% beginner, 45% intermediate and 30% advanced
  • Skiable terrain: 365 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 683 metres

Pros

  • Great for all skill levels
  • Costs are slightly cheaper than most ski trips
  • Kids under 10 ski for free

Cons

  • Lack of tree line leaves the skiers quite exposed
  • No on-mountain accommodation
  • Access road is difficult

Find accommodation in Christchurch


Mt Cheeseman NZ

Image: Mt Cheeseman NZ website

Mt Cheeseman, Christchurch

Best for a cheap ski experience

Situated a mere 1.5 hours outside of Christchurch, Mt Cheeseman offers comfortable modern accommodation with impeccable views of the terrain. If you're after a ski trip without the busyness that goes hand in hand with the season, this resort might just be for you.

  • Location: Mount Cheeseman Ski Field Road, Mount Cheeseman
  • Runs and terrain: 15% beginner, 50% intermediate and 35% advanced
  • Skiable terrain: 447 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 293 metres

Pros

  • On mountain ski-in, ski-out accommodations available
  • Close proximity to Christchurch
  • Family-friendly reputation

Cons

  • Only two T-bar lifts
  • Only 15% of the tracks are for beginners

Find accommodation in Christchurch


Skier Maintaining Balance on a Steep Slope of Mountain Summit in Craigieburn, New Zealand

Craigieburn, Christchurch

Best for powderhounds

Craigieburn calls out to all skiing enthusiasts and adrenaline seekers. It's safe to say that this ski terrain isn't for the faint of heart as it's home to some of New Zealand's most difficult slopes.

  • Location: Craigieburn Valley Ski Field Road, Christchurch
  • Runs and terrain: 25 runs (0% beginner, 55% intermediate and 45% advanced)
  • Skiable terrain: 400 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 500 metres

Pros

  • Perfect for experienced skiers and snowboarders
  • Long terrains

Cons

  • Not family or learner friendly
  • Difficult terrains

Find accommodation in Christchurch


Mt Olympus ski NZ

Image: Mt Olympus NZ website

Mt Olympus, Christchurch

Best for adventure

Otherwise known as the Playground of the Gods, Mt Olympus brings south-facing slopes, fewer crowds, big mountains and so much more to those up for the challenge. With basic facilities and no crowds, Mt Olympus is the perfect place to go wild.

  • Location: Harper Road, Lake Coleridge
  • Runs and terrain: 15 runs (10% beginner, 55% intermediate and 35% advanced)
  • Skiable terrain: 60 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 450 metres

Pros

  • Ideal for those over an intermediate level
  • Good for a day trip
  • Cheaper prices if you stay at the Top Hut Lodge

Cons

  • Only 60 hectares of terrain
  • Not especially friendly to snowboarders
  • Beginners may struggle on the slopes
  • Difficult access road

Find accommodation in Christchurch


Temple Basin Ski NZ

Image: Temple Basin NZ website

Temple Basin, Christchurch

Best for reliable terrain

Temple Basin is ideal for intermediates of all grades. It has ample hectares of skiable terrain to share with skilled snowboarders and skiers, and 25% of its runs are suitable for beginners. It's best to keep in mind that you need to have a decent level of fitness due to the hiking requirements.

  • Location: Arthur's Pass Village, New Zealand
  • Runs and terrain: 25% beginner, 50% intermediate and 25% advanced
  • Skiable terrain: 320 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 430 metres

Pros

  • Ideal for skiers looking for a bit of a challenge
  • 320 hectares of terrain to play with
  • Some opportunities for night skiing

Cons

  • Not suitable for those with low fitness levels
  • No groomed runs
  • No on-mountain stays for longer trips

Find accommodation in Christchurch


People Skiing At Porters Ski Area

Porters, Christchurch

Best for learners looking to progress

Porters offers a great spot for those looking to get to the intermediate level. This skiing destination provides convenience, affordability and easy-access roads for those looking to have some fun in the snow this upcoming season.

  • Location: Christchurch
  • Runs and terrain: 29 runs (15% beginner, 35% intermediate and 50% advanced)
  • Skiable terrain: 700 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 620 metres

Pros

  • Cheap beginners packages
  • Luxurious chair lifts and T-bars
  • Car park is close by for learners

Cons

  • Unless there is snow, the views from the base area and drive up are unpleasing
  • No tree line to protect skiers from poor visibility in bad weather conditions
  • No ski-in ski-out accommodation

Find accommodation in Christchurch


Roundhill.Tekapo

Roundhill, Lake Tekapo

Best for beginners

Roundhill's well-serviced beginners' slopes come equipped with excellent instructors and gentle rises and dips as well as wide-open learning areas that never get too crowded, even during the peak periods.

  • Location: Lilybank Road, Tekapo
  • Runs and terrain: 14 runs (20% beginner, 45% intermediate and 35% advanced)
  • Skiable terrain: 550 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 783 metres

Pros

  • Family and learner focused
  • Only 35 minutes from Lake Tekapo
  • Picture-perfect views

Cons

  • Not particularly great for those after a challenging ski

Find accommodation in Lake Tekapo


Ohau, Lake Tekapo Ski

Ohau, Lake Tekapo

Best for views of Lake Ohau

Ohau is your family-friendly, hands-up-if-you're-a-beginner heaven.

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.

  • Location: Ohau, Lake Tekapo
  • Runs and terrain: 20% beginner, 50% intermediate and 30% advanced
  • Skiable terrain: 125 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 400 metres

Pros

  • Million-dollar views
  • Impressive chair lifts
  • Reliable snowfall

Cons

  • No on-mountain accommodation
  • Unpaved access roads
  • Snow quality can be inconsistent

Find accommodation in Lake Tekapo


Mt Dobson, Lake Tekapo

Image: Mt Dobson NZ website

Mt Dobson, Lake Tekapo

Best for a relaxed atmosphere

Completely unwind on your next ski trip at Mt Dobson. Just over 30 minutes from the nearest accommodation, this snowy destination offers a triple chair lift, 400 hectares of terrain and good quality snow.

  • Location: Fairlie-Tekapo Road, Burkes Pass
  • Runs and terrain: 25% beginner, 50% intermediate and 25% advanced
  • Skiable terrain: 162 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 415 metres

Pros

  • 40 minutes from the closest town of Fairlie
  • Accommodation is fairly cheap
  • Quiet in regards to crowds

Cons

  • No on-mountain accommodation
  • Over two hours from Christchurch

Find accommodation in Lake Tekapo


Turoa

Whakapapa, Mt Ruapehu

Best for skiing on the North Island

It's New Zealand's biggest and busiest ski area. Whakapapa offers a variety of trails for beginners and the more advanced. The trails come with encapsulating views, plenty of snow and 550 hectares of terrain waiting to be used.

  • Location: Mt. Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
  • Runs and terrain: 67 runs (30% beginner, 45% intermediate and 25% advanced)
  • Skiable terrain: 550 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 722 metres

Pros

  • Decent size resort for guests
  • On-mountain accommodations
  • Easy-access road

Cons

  • Weather can be unpredictable
  • Not enough parking spots
  • Snow quality is varied

Find accommodation in Mr Ruapehu


Turoa, Mt Ruapehu

Image: Mt Ruapehu NZ website

Turoa, Mt Ruapehu

Best for a large vertical drop

Turoa is 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.

  • Location: Ohakune Mountain Road, Mt Ruapehu
  • Runs and terrain: 34 runs (20% beginner, 55% intermediate and 25% advanced)
  • Skiable terrain: 500 hectares
  • Vertical drop: 722 metres

Pros

  • Long ski season that runs from late June to late October
  • Easy-access road
  • Beautiful views of the mountains

Cons

  • Due to Mount Ruapehu, icy winds are common on the terrain
  • Weekends tend to be busier than most ski fields
  • No on-mountain accommodation

Find accommodation in Mr Ruapehu


Search for accommodation in New Zealand

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.

Best places to go skiing

  • Best for Queenstown proximity: The Remarkables
  • Best for lift variety: Cardrona
  • Best for expert skiers: Treble Cone
  • Best for night skiing: Coronet Peak
  • Best for cross-country skiing: Snow Farm
  • Best for all ski levels: Mt Hutt
  • Best for a cheap ski experience: Mt Cheeseman
  • Best for powderhounds: Craigieburn
  • Best for adventure: Mt Olympus
  • Best for reliable terrain: Temple Basin
  • Best for learners looking to progress: Porters
  • Best for beginners: Roundhill
  • Best for views of Lake Ohau: Ohau
  • Best for a relaxed atmosphere: Mt Dobson
  • Best for skiing on the North Island: Whakapapa
  • Best for a large vertical drop: Turoa

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.

5-Day New Zealand North and South Island Highlights Trip
5-Day New Zealand North and South Island Highlights Trip

Viator

New Zealand's Biggest Swing: Nevis Bungy and Swing Combo
New Zealand's Biggest Swing: Nevis Bungy and Swing Combo

Everything New Zealand

Top New Zealand snow deals

Deal

New Zealand: The Remarkables beginners ski lesson from $222

Expires 2 Aug 2021
Available on select travel dates until 17 October 2021. Includes ski pass, ski or snowboard rental and more.
Deal

New Zealand: Queenstown beginners ski lesson from $222

Expires 2 Aug 2021
Available on select travel dates until January 2022. Includes Ski Pass to Coronet Peak, ski or snowboard rental and more.
Deal

New Zealand: Coronet Peak Ski Resort transfers from $33

Expires 2 Aug 2021
Available until 26 September 2021 for a return transfer from Queenstown to Coronet Peak.
Deal

New Zealand: Ski pass and transport package from $165

Expires 2 Aug 2021
Available until 26 September 2021 at Coronet Peak in Queenstown.
Deal

New Zealand: Up to 80% off return transfers to Whakapapa ski fields

Expires 27 Jul 2021
Available on select dates until 30 September 2021 departing from Tūrangi.
Deal

New Zealand: Get 5% off Mt Cook tour with alpine experience

Expires 27 Jul 2021
Available on select travel dates until April 2022.
Deal

Up to 16% off Mount Cook heli ski adventure

Expires 31 Jul 2021
Available from 14 July - 30 September 2021 for a full day experience. Includes lunch, guide, transfers and more.
Deal

Coronet Peak or The Remarkables ski package from $186

Expires 31 Jul 2021
Available from 20 July - 17 October 2021. Includes lift pass, ski or snowboard and boot rental.
Deal

New Zealand: Up to 26% off Tasman Glacier ski experience

Expires 31 Jul 2021
Available until 11 October 2021. Includes return flights from Queenstown to Mt. Cook Aerodrome, scenic flights with snow landings and more.
Deal

Up to 25% off New Zealand heli skiing

Expires 31 Jul 2021
Available until 31 October 2021 for a full day experience. Includes return transfers from Queenstown, lunch and more.
Deal

Queenstown: Ski passes and rental packages from $94

Expires 26 Jul 2021
Available until September 2021 at Cardrona Alpine Resort or Treble Cone.
Deal

2 free nights on New Zealand ski getaway

Expires 31 Jul 2021
Available from 1-30 September 2021 at Edgewater Wanaka and includes 3-day lift pass for Cardona or Treble Cone. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Up to $175 off Queenstown ski escape + The Original Onsen experience

Expires 31 Jul 2021
Available from 1 July - 17 October 2021. Includes a 5-night stay at Oaks Queenstown Club Suites, lift pass at Cardrona, transfers and more. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Free breakfast on 7-day Queenstown ski getaway

Expires 15 Sep 2021
Available from 1 September - 10 October 2021. Includes accommodation at Reavers Lodge, breakfast, 5-day lift pass for Cardrona, airport transfers and 1 dinner. T&Cs apply.
Deal

Up to 22% off Queenstown snowmobiling experience

Expires 31 Jul 2021
Available from June - October 2021 for a 1.5-hour experience. Includes 15-minute scenic flight to and from base camp and transfers.
Deal

Up to 22% off Queenstown helicopter flight with snow landing

Expires 31 Jul 2021
Available until May 2022 for a 30-minute scenic flight and includes return transfers.
Deal

From NZ$35: New Zealand ski passes, rentals shuttles and tours

Book ski passes, tours, heliskiing experiences, gear hire and more in Queenstown, Christchurch and Wanaka.
Deal

Up to 10% off New Zealand ski tours

Expires 31 Jul 2021
Available for travel from May - September 2021, May - September 2022 and May - September 2023. Destinations include Christchurch and Queenstown.
Deal

Get a free night or breakfast on New Zealand ski holidays

Expires 31 Jul 2021
Available on select travel dates from July - October 2021. Destinations include Queenstown, Wanaka, South Island and more.
Deal

Up to 23% off New Zealand getaways

Expires 31 Dec 2021
Available on select travel dates to Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown, Wellington, Dunedin, Te Anau and more.

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Go to site