Santa and snow are intertwined, thanks to legends and myths from Scandinavia. Well, what if we told you that Santa and snow are still connected? Because he has aligned his gift-giving to a Southern Hemisphere winter this year, bringing the Snow Highway to ski and board lovers everywhere! Picture this: a weeklong road trip hitting the best of the South Island’s ski fields, from Christchurch to Queenstown and Wanaka, with our buddies at ANZCRO.
This is ‘Santa’ in the form of Nico Porteous, New Zealand’s youngest Olympic Gold-medallist winning freestyle skier and South, Christchurch Airport’s regional tourism partnership. While they may be missing the long white beard and extra padding around the middle, together they have come up with a big bag full of gifts. Presented in the form of the Snow Highway, they have found a way to deliver more of what you love about winter in Aotearoa.
Combining their expert knowledge of awesome Kiwi ski fields, regional gems, and the drop-dead-gorgeous scenery, the brand-new Snow Highway itinerary guides you from Ōtautahi Christchurch to Queenstown and Wanaka over a week. Or longer – no one’s going to get mad if you can’t resist the famous NZ powder for a longer ski roadie!
From Canterbury to the Mackenzie region to Otago, this is about as epic a winter roadie as you can get! It’s not only the incredible ski fields – from big names to backcountry gems – but the accompanying après ski and warm and friendly locals.
With the ski season officially open this past week, it’s time to dig out the ski gear and hit the gym to get prepped for the Snow Highway.
Here’s where you’ll go:
Ski the award-winning Mt Hutt
Did you know that Mt Hutt has won the Best NZ Ski Resort for seven years running? Thanks to its expansive ski area, solid snowfall, and affordable prices, it comes up tops. And it’s only an hour’s drive from Christchurch, meaning you can either après ski in the nearby town of Methven or even base yourself in the lively Garden City.
Enjoy bluebird days in the Mackenzie Region’s boutique resorts
Time spent in the Mackenzie Region is the destressing experience every modern-day adult needs. This is thanks to its away-from-it-all vibes, breathtaking scenery, and three boutique ski fields!
The Roundhill Ski Area has to-die-for panoramic views across Lake Tekapo and across Mount Cook National Park. The resort offers good times for all, especially beginners.
Mt Dobson has trails for all abilities and dry powder snow, ideal for those bluebird days (of which this region has plenty). As it’s predominantly uncrowded, you’ll spend less time queuing for lifts and more time enjoying Mt Dobson’s runs.
The small high-country resort, Ohau Snow Fields, offers pinch-me moments thanks to its stunning outlook and all-terrain runs. Stay at the old-school alpine lodge and you’ll be only 20-minutes from the gorgeous hot tubs at the end of the day.
Alternatively, base yourself in Tekapo or Twizel to maximise your Mackenzie stay.
Tick off iconic ski moments at Mount Cook National Park
This iconic Aoraki Mt Cook makes for an impressive backdrop for the third stop on the Snow Highway Base yourself at the small township at Mount Cook National Park so you’re close to all the action. And by action, we mean action, because you can tick glacier skiing off your wish list while you’re here!
Ski the Tasman allows skiers (sorry, no snowboarders) to whizz down New Zealand’s longest runs (eight and 10 km long!) on New Zealand’s largest glacier! Plus, you can go off-piste, explore the ice caves, and enjoy what will possibly be your first snow picnic!
There are also two heli-ski companies at Mount Cook if you’re going all-in on this Snow Highway getaway.
Discover Queenstown & Wanaka’s revered ski fields
Queenstown and Wanaka’s dreamy ski fields need no introduction unless you’ve just landed from out of space and wonder what the heck people are doing whizzing down mountains on thin boards (like, for reals!).
There are not famous for no reason! The stunning scenery, incredible powder, and countless good runs: it’s no wonder people travel here year after year.
The backcountry terrain of The Remarkables is not to be missed. The north-facing slopes mean sunny days, and its valley location seems to protect the powder. Winning conditions!
For a family friendly resort, Coronet Peak is it, with brilliant ski school opportunities. Coronet Peak is only 20 minutes from downtown Queenstown.
Cardona is a snowboarder’s playground, thanks to its terrain parks. It is also considered the most reliable for snow across the region.
In Wanaka, an hour from Queenstown, Treble Cone has a solid reputation for its side country action suitable for intermediate and advanced skiers, plus incredible views.
Queenstown probably has the most comprehensive après ski scene across Aotearoa, with awesome hot tubs, fab restaurants, and lively bars to enjoy. Be sure to save a little energy! Wanaka offers more chill après ski good times.
Conclude your Snow Highway adventure with a short connecting flight from Queenstown to Christchurch before heading home. The epic memories of the best ski road trip ever will last far longer than that panda-eyed look you got from those bluebird days with your ski goggles.
Get the Snow Highway deets
Discover the Snow Highway for yourself on one of these epic, adventure-filled snow holidays. Click here for more information.
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