New Zealand is an awesome place to hit the slopes and the winter weather has provided us with some pretty amazing skiing conditions so far this winter. Whether you’re in the North or South Island, a ski field is never too far away and no matter whether you’re a beginner or a budding slalom champion, there’s a destination to suit all levels. Skiing in New Zealand is right up there with our favourite past times. We love to welcome visitors from around the world during the winter months in search of the powdery white stuff – Australians love our winter snow and we love to see them on our slopes.
We are lucky here in New Zealand to have some of the best ski fields in the world so we decided to take a look at 7 of the best places to go skiing in New Zealand this weekend – we’d love to hear from you if you hit the slopes and send us your best photos so we can share them with our fans on Facebook.
Top 7 places to ski in New Zealand this winter
Queenstown – Coronet Peak and the Remarkables
Queenstown is the most popular place to go skiing in New Zealand and for good reason. With access to four world-class ski fields within easy driving distance of the city, this is a great place to base yourself for some winter fun and some serious skiing and snowboarding action.
Coronet Peak was New Zealand’s first commercial ski area when it opened in 1947 with only a single rope tow. It’s come a long way since then and offers up some roller coaster terrain making it one of New Zealand’s most exciting ski resorts and a playground for snow lovers of any ability. Just a short 25-minute drive from Queenstown, there are 2 terrain parks, a tubing park as well as some great runs, the longest being 2.4 kms.
The Remarkables ski field is another short drive from Queenstown (around 35 minutes) and offers up a truly alpine experience. With terrain and facilities to suit all abilities, it’s a popular destination with Kiwis and overseas visitors alike.
Despite having an average snowfall of 3.67m the still have 100 snowmaking guns covering their trails and 3 terrain parks. The longest run is 2.5 kms with plenty to do for beginners right through to the pros. They’ve great facilities at The Remarkables including 3 restaurants and cafes as well as a Mountain Ice Bar at Curvey Basin Junction.
Queenstown is also a great place to base yourself for some apres-ski. After a day on the slopes, the city offers up a fantastic nightlife with great bars and restaurants and roaring fires to keep you warm.
Wanaka – Cardrona and Treble Cone
If you are looking for something a bit more relaxed but still want some world-class skiing, head over to Queenstown’s little brother, Wanaka. With two awesome ski fields at Cardrona and Treble Cone and a relaxed atmosphere in the town, this is a great option for those who want to focus more on the skiing than the apres-ski!
Treble Cone has a great range of terrain with a focus more towards the intermediates to advanced skiers and snowboarders. There are a couple of terrain parks which are great for the kids and a longest run of 4 kms. Treble Cone is the South Island’s biggest ski field and this is a big draw as the slopes tend to be less crowded.
Cardrona is another awesome ski field located just a short drive from Wanaka on the road over to Queenstown making it accessible from both locations. Open daily from 9am – 4pm, Cardrona is better suited to beginners with around 25% of the terrain dedicated to beginner runs.
Cardona also has a fantastic reputation for great snow thanks in part to its investment in innovative snowmaking and snow management systems, making it a very reliable option. Cardona also boasts the most extensive terrain park and halfpipe facilities in the Southern Hemisphere and their four terrain parks make many snowboarders very happy each season.
There are a number of ski lifts that will get you where you need to go on the mountain and it is possible to buy multi-resort lift passes allowing you to visit both Cardrona and Treble Cone on one pass.
Tongariro – Mt Ruapehu
You might not think it but Mt Ruapehu is New Zealand’s largest winter playground with a skiable area of 550 hectares. Everything at Whakapapa is big and large by the numbers. There are 67 named runs, 12 lifts, its longest run is 2.8km and it has a top elevation of 2,300m.
Located in the middle of the North Island, the Whakapapa Ski area has a whopping 25 black and diamond runs which are perfect for those wanting to really push themselves on the slopes. Contrasting with this is Happy Valley which offers everything a learner could want with 30 groomed trails which are perfect once you have mastered the basics.
Whakapapa also has plenty of eateries in the form of hangouts and bistros as well as the Knoll Ridge Café, the highest café in New Zealand with breath-taking views of Tongariro National Park. It’s the perfect way to finish a great day out on the slopes.
Craigieburn – Canterbury
The Canterbury region offers up a few options when it comes to skiing and all the fields are within reasonable driving distance of Christchurch which makes it perfect if you are flying in and renting a car with GO Rentals.
If you consider yourself in the ‘expert’ category when it comes to skiing or snowboarding then Craigieburn may be a good option for you. This place does not come with all the bells and whistles of a Queenstown or Wanaka ski field. It is managed and maintained by volunteers and is purely there for skiers and snowboarders who are looking for something a bit more challenging.
There are no groomed slopes here, no cafes and no fancy chairlifts. Some of the runs even require you to walk up the mountain before you can ski down, however what it lacks in finesse, Craigieburn more than makes up for in challenging runs, off-piste skiing and pristine backcountry.
There are dorms and private room options on the mountain so if you fancy a pretty remote getaway away from the busy slopes, make sure you check out Craigieburn.
Mt Hutt – Canterbury
In contrast to Craigieburn is Mt Hutt. Just 90 minutes from Christchurch, Mt Hutt continues to be one of New Zealand’s most popular ski fields with 365 hectares of skiable area.
Recently voted NZ’s best ski resort in 2015 and 2016, Mt Hutt boasts wide open terrain for all ski and snowboard abilities which is why it is so popular with locals and tourists alike. A bonus if you are planning on taking the kids is that under 10s go free – bonus! Mt Hutt has four terrain parks and a longest run of 2 kms. It’s got a real resort feel to it with 2 restaurants and a coffee bar as well as a great ski school for kids.
Broken River – Canterbury
The Broken River Ski Area is a bit of a cross between Mt Hutt and Craigieburn in that it offers amazing off-piste skiing as well as terrain for beginners and casual skiers.
It’s actually right next to Craigieburn and shares some of its characteristics. Great powder snow, beautiful backcountry surrounds and uncrowded slopes.
Broken River also has a snow school which run a number of programmes for children and adults of all abilities. There are group lessons, private lessons, women-only lessons, even one that teaches you how to teach friends and family.
For the more advanced there are off-piste skills courses and avalanche safety courses. They even have instructors in Telemark skiing for all those freeheelers to help you with some technical tips for managing challenging situations.
Another thing that’ll tempt you at Broken River is the Night Skiing under lights. If you’ve never experienced it, the exhilaration is something else and very addictive!
Mt Dobson – Tekapo
The Mt Dobson Ski Area is located just 20 minutes’ drive from the beautiful and picturesque Lake Tekapo in the South Island.
In operation since 1979, Mt Dobson has a bit of everything and makes things easy. This starts with the journey there with its purpose-built access road to the highest carpark of any ski resort in New Zealand.
The ski area has a nice mix of groomed trails and off-piste options to suit those who are just started and those who are a little more experienced. It’s 14 trails comprise of 25% beginner, 50% intermediate and 25% advanced across 400+ acres of skiable area.
They are also well-facilitated with a snow school (with professional instructors), ski and snowboard hire, equipment rental, a large carpark (220 spaces) and a café with a great range of pies and snack foods/beverages to rest and recharge.
One last tip!
If you do hit the slopes this weekend, make sure you have all the right equipment for your rental car. Access to the slopes is often by road and unless you are catching the designated buses, you may need to add snow chains to your car which can be rented along with your car from GO Rentals.