Where to ski in New Zealand
If you’re looking for some magical alpine action, cross the ditch and hit the ski slopes in New Zealand. Mind-blowing landscapes and snowy scenery abound with some of the southern hemisphere’s best ski fields and world-class après-ski options. There’s awesome skiing on both the North Island and the South Island, and the ski season runs between June to October every year. Here’s the lowdown on where to ski in New Zealand.
There’s something for all snow bunnies at this friendly Queenstown ski resort with an equal range of beginner, intermediate and expert terrain. If you’re into big air, there are three terrain parks at The Remarkables, including the legendary Burton Stash, which is great to watch even if you don’t have the nerve to give it a bash. Don’t forget your camera; The Remarkables is Middle Earth in all its glory.
Après-ski: You’ll find a few on-mountain refreshment options, along with a base lodge, but most visitors make the 40-minute winding trek each day to and from Queenstown where there are plenty of places to stay and play for all budgets.
One of Queenstown’s best-loved ski fields, Coronet Peak is a popular choice with beginners and intermediates. The ski area is fairly small but the infrastructure of the resort is well set up to handle the large volume of visitors, which means no long queues for lifts and more time skiing. At weekends, ski under the stars at Coronet Peak’s night-skiing sessions.
Après-ski: There is limited on-mountain accommodation at Coronet Peak with most people opting to stay in Queenstown where the accommodation and party scene keeps everyone happy. The easy 20-minute drive to Coronet Peak is on a fully paved road all the way from Queenstown, a rarity that is another one of the resort’s major drawcards.
The South Island’s largest ski area, Treble Cone towers over the shores of Lake Wanaka. Rated as one of the best ski areas in NZ, Treble Cone is a real crowd pleaser with endless trails, mind-blowing scenery, and more snowfall than any other Kiwi ski resort. Only around 10 percent of the terrain is suitable for beginners, but if you’re a powder-hungry, black run-loving seasoned pro, Treble Cone will impress with around half of the resort rated at an advanced level.
Après-ski: Treble Cone is located 30 minutes from Wanaka (up a nail-bitingly steep winding mountain track), and just 90 minutes from Queenstown. There’s no on-mountain accommodation, and most visitors opt to stay in Wanaka where there’s plenty of impressive après-ski options.
If you feel the need for speed, Mount Hutt is the place to get your kicks with some steep thigh burners and plenty of off-piste skiing. The views here are out of this world, stretching to the Pacific Ocean and across the neverending alpine peaks in the other direction.
Après-ski: Methven is a charming nearby village and the easiest place to stay and play when visiting Mount Hutt. Great for the budget, the après-ski scene is not so great to write home about, especially compared to nearby Queenstown and Wanaka. Christchurch is 90 minutes away.
If you’re looking to ski in the North Island, Mount Ruapehu is the place to head. NZ’s only skiable live volcano has two ski areas, the huge 550-hectare Whakapapa (pronounced 'fukka puppa', no really, it is!) and Turoa. One lift pass covers both areas, and there are plenty of ski runs to go around. Total newbies will love the ‘Happy Valley’ dedicated learner area at Whakapapa, and pros will froth over the terrain parks, backcountry skiing and black runs of both ski areas. If you’re feeling all skied out, the toboggan park at Turora is lots of fun.
Après-ski: There are plenty of places to kick back and enjoy the winter vista over a warm beverage on the mountain. The accommodation at Whakapapa village ranges from budget chalet style to the grand Chateau Tongariro, and Turoa visitors can stay and play at the nearby town of Ohakune. If you’re looking for a party scene, the South Island resorts might be more your cup of tea, but Mount Ruapehu offers great value skiing and jaw-dropping scenery, and not forgetting, of course, the chance to say you’ve skied on a real live volcano!
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