No crowds, spectacular scenery and runs that feel like they’re never going to end – no wonder NZ is renowned for some of the world’s best ski areas.
With amazingly long ski seasons running from mid-June to the end of September it’s time to start planning a trip to the winter wonderland with our guide to the top resorts.
1. Treble Cone
Famous for: award-winning facilities, longest run
Treble Cone, the South Island’s largest ski area, has been awarded New Zealand’s best ski resort two years running. With an authentic kiwi snow experience, friendly hospitality, long groomed slopes, legendary off piste terrain and unrivalled views, it’s no surprise.
It’s also home to the the longest run in the Wanaka lakes district with a leg burning 4km and a vertical drop of 700m. Non-skiers can still enjoy the resort – kick back with a coffee at base camp or soak up the views over the majestic Lake Wanaka and jagged snow covered Southern Alps.
2. Mt Hutt
Famous for: off piste, extensive ski area
One of the closest ski areas to Christchurch, Mt Hutt is all about the big mountain, boasting New Zealand’s largest skiable area of 365 hectares. Stay in the nearby Methven and travel 35 minutes to the slopes which features modern chair lifts and caters to all levels of skiers and snowboarders.
From the wide, groomed cruisers of ‘Broadway’ to the chutes and steeps of ‘Towers’, the trail network also includes dedicated learning areas with a 140m-long Magic Carpet where kids and first-timers can learn in a safe environment. Powder hounds should check out the affordable heli-skiing trips, where you’ll experience the thrill of riding in unchartered territory.
Famous for: snowboard and ski park
Snowboarders will be stoked by the Olympic-sized halfpipe at Cardrona, 58km northeast of Queenstown. The area boasts the southern hemisphere’s most extensive terrain parks and hosts events and training throughout the season.
The ski area has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere with wide open beginner trails and fun freeride terrain. Stay at Wanaka (34km north) or Arrowtown (37km south) for the best access to the ski fields.
4. Coronet Peak
Famous for: fun, apres-ski
New Zealand’s first commercial ski field is popular for its close proximity to Queenstown and diverse range of trails. Consistent snow conditions and advanced snowmaking facilities also ensure awesome skiing for all levels throughout the season. To revive weary legs, stop by Heidi’s Hut – a cosy, European-style restaurant that serves up affordable food and mulled wine by the log fire in the mountain chalet setting.
For partygoers the apres-ski is just as impressive as the slopes. Top off a day on the mountain with a beer and pizza on the outdoor deck of The Boiler Room on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, kick on for dinner and cocktails at The Bunker and listen to live music at Surreal Bar.
5. Mt Ruapehu
Famous for: catering to all levels
As New Zealand’s only skiable volcano, Mt Ruapehu in NZ’s North Island is renowned for its wide open plains, rivers and awe-inspiring mountains. The alpine destination caters for beginners at Happy Valley in Whakapapa where kids and adults can learn to ski in a dedicated area which also has its own cafe, rental complex and ski school meeting point. For the more advanced, tackle the Black Magic backcountry for challenging terrain and one of the 24 Black Diamond, adrenaline-pumping runs. Snowboarders should head to Turoa, on the south-western side, for the dedicated terrain park and old lava flows which make great natural half-pipes. The slopes are due to open in July and pre-season passes are available now.
6. The Remarkables
Famous for: spectacular views
With a swanky new base building opening this season, the ski area lives up to its name. Majestically beautiful, its wide open bowls are surrounded by the rugged peaks of The Remarkables mountain range. Home to versatile terrain, fantastic learning facilities and fun for all ages, with a gentle sloping beginners’ area equipped with three surface conveyor lifts it provides a fun environment for first-timers. The more advanced will love the wide array of intermediate trails and progressive network of terrain parks including the world-class Dirty Dog Terrain Park.
With Mt Hutt, Coronet Peak and Cardrona due to open on 13th June this year and The Remarkables, Treble Cone and Mt Ruapehu opening during the subsequent weeks get ready for your best ski trip yet.
What’s your favourite NZ ski area?
Share this story