If you are craving for some skiing in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand is just the perfect destination you should definitely not miss visiting.
While the rest of the world is busy with their tan, travelers on backpacking or working holidays enjoy shredding some powder in the excellent landscapes of New Zealand.
However, the question now is, where are really the best places to snowboard and ski in New Zealand?
The ski fields in New Zealand are far from being massive yet the country provides small club fields and large commercial ski areas that are guaranteed to give you an authentic Kiwi ski experience.
With the long winter months in the mountains, the grand destinations, and a special ski culture, there is no doubt that New Zealand deserves the top spot on your bucket list for winter sports.
Here is a short list of the 11 best New Zealand ski resorts:
1. Coronet Peak
Coronet Peak is considered as the most famous ski resort on New Zealand’s South Island, partly because of its 20-minute distance to Queenstown. Once you reach the summit, you just need to look to the left to see for yourself The Lord of the Rings movie’s Gondor.
The varied terrain got something in store for everyone. Intermediates and beginners have wide red and blue runs while more professional skiers can go to the terrain park or put their stamina to test on the M-1, the longest run that stretches for 1.5 miles or 2.4 kilometers. The resort is famous for its 8 high-speed and efficient chairlifts. The peak is among the last ski fields that lose its snow so the season usually runs from early June up to mid-October.
With a terrain that spans for 691 acres, some of the facilities you can find and use in the resort include the snow sports school, snowboard and ski rental shop, children’s programs and licensed day care center, ski retail outlet, and emergency and first aid services.
At the sub-station, you will find a fully-licensed restaurant and café and bar complete with sun deck. For transportation, the Snowline Express goes back from Queenstown Snow Centre and leaves every 20 minutes on peak times complete with pick-ups at the designated stops where there is available space.
Cardrona is a popular favorite among the locals so it is not a big surprise that many people choose this as one of the best New Zealand ski resorts. This is as close as you could get to only the best of all worlds, from the robust infrastructure, to great views, and extensive varieties of terrain, all of which are conveniently situated about halfway between Wanaka and Queenstown.
Cardrona is also very accessible as it is only less than one hour away from Wanaka and Queenstown with available shuttles in case you don’t feel driving on the road yourself. However, this ease of access could sometimes be the result of crowds during the weekends.
Cardrona is known for having the best atmosphere perfect for families found in a very convenient location.
Queenstown Airport is the closest airport to Cardrona that is only an hour drive.
3. Treble Cone
Treble Cone located in Lake Wanaka is the biggest ski area found on the South Island. Two basins are covered by the terrain, namely the Home and Saddle Basin. Both of these two offer some of the best and highest quality freeriding you can find in the entire New Zealand.
The highlights of freeriding in the area include deep powder bowls, long chutes, and major steeps. Big fans of challenging and steep terrain all agree that Treble Cone got some of the country’s finest. Advanced riders could go on the guided tours that will take you to the Motatapu Chutes. But, intermediates and beginners don’t have to feel left out because there are lots of uncrowded and long runs that are accessible from the Home Basin and Saddle Basin chairlift.
With 4 lifts and a terrain of 1,359 acres, the best time to go to Treble Cone is from late June up to late September. The longest run at the resort is 2.5 miles.
When the day ends, you can cap it off enjoying some après-ski drinks at Base Lodge Sun Deck. If you feel hungry after all those activities, fill up your tummy with their made to order pizzas and burgers.
The facilities at the resort include café, sun deck and bar, snow sports school, medical center, childcare center for 3 to 6 years old, snow rentals shops, and retail shop. Wanaka, the nearby town, also provides a variety of lodging perfect for all budgets, ranging from bed and breakfasts, to hostels, and hotels.
Treble Cone is the ski resort closest to Wanaka as it is just a 35-minute drive. There are also daily shuttles running between the resort and the town.
4. Mount Hutt
The high elevation of Mount Hutt only means that there will always be good and reliable snow conditions as well as coverage that can last well to the spring months in the Southern Hemisphere. This is where you can find a wide selection of exciting terrain with lots of space for novices, tons of wide groomers for intermediates and an excellent collection of the off-piste blacks for those who are more daring.
Children below 10 years old can ski for free so those families who are with their young kids could enjoy some great value for their money. Many visitors stay in Methven which is only 30 minutes away and has reasonably priced accommodations. If your family members have different skiing abilities, the plethora of terrain at Mount Hutt makes it your best choice.
There is no doubt that the Remarkables takes the number one spot as far as family skiing in Australasia is concerned. The explanation for this is simple. The place is not excessively commercialized. It also got a relaxed vibe that reminds you of home. It is also less crowded and receives better snow cover compared to its nearby neighbors.
You can also choose from the extensive array of activities such as the snow tubing park as well as learning programs that are guaranteed to suit every ability like the network of the progressive terrain parks complete with gentle and wide slopes for beginners and the large mountain steeps for those who are more experienced.
There are also lots of events that await you here, from the gigs on the slopes, to mini park battles and eating contests. But of course, the best thing is the fact that this is the filming location of The Lord of the Rings. Children 5 years old and below also get to enjoy a free ski in the Remarkables.
Mid June up to late September are the best months to go. There is 7 lifts in the area with a terrain of 951 acres. Its longest run is 1.5 miles. There is also a Snack Shack on the snow as well as a fully licensed bar and café.
The resort facilities include ski retail outlet, snowboard and ski rental shop, snow sports school, emergency and first aid services, and licensed children’s programs and day care center.
The Snowline Express offers return transport to the Remarkables every single day of the season. This ski area is situated in just a 40-minute drive from Queenstown.
6. Roundhill in Lake Tekapo
The family-friendly snow resort of Roundhill is located in Lake Tekapo. The place is both epic and scenic at the same time not just because of the presence of the lake but more because its terrain provides a stunning vista of Mount Cook and the Southern Alps.
Novice skiers and children can try learning the ropes at the huge beginner’s area. The intermediate riders can also swirl around the spacious ski curves located along the hill. The more advanced powderhounds, on the other hand, can venture up to the longest rope tow in the world.
You can spend your day discovering and exploring this ski field just right above Lake Tekapo that offers beginner-friendly runs right next to the country’s steepest vertical drop.
You can head straight to the rental facility of Roundhill Ski Area so you can get fitted out with the high quality selection of snowboarding or skiing equipment. Children and learners will surely have a fun time enjoying the expansive open beginner’s area wherein two rope tows and a platter lift make it easier to navigate and explore around green-graded slopes. The two T-bar lifts in the area offer access to a selection of intermediate trails that feature a thrilling landscape of natural curves and dips.
7. Mount Olympus
Once you get to see for yourself the terrain and the peaks at Mount Olympus, you will surely understand right away why this is dubbed as the “playground of the gods.” Aside from the chance to have an enjoyable and relaxed experience here, if you have the willingness to go on a bit of a hike from the lift, you can get access to an exceptional backcountry that is difficult to find elsewhere.
Even though it is far from being easy to try to navigate the access road and not all people enjoy rope tows, specifically snowboarders and beginners, it is the very reason why the crowds are smaller in the area. The biggest crowd that the place can get in a day is 100 persons, which means that there are no lines at the lift and more fresh lines on the slopes instead.
Mount Olympus is best known for being a friendly and quiet mountain that is a true paradise for an expert. This is a wonderful gateway to ski and backcountry touring and its south-facing basin means powder dumps. Since there are now crowds, you can be sure that the snow can also hold nicely.
Christchurch Airport is the closest airport to Mount Olympus with a 3-hour drive.
One of the two sole ski resorts on North Island in New Zealand, Turoa gives you the perfect opportunity to ski on the largest active volcano of the country, Mount Ruapheu. The location and elevation allows for lots of snow as well as a more challenging terrain compared to the nearby Whakapapa.
Its terrain provides a little something for each and everyone so you may see large groups that are coming in during the weekends from Auckland and Wellington. There is available dining all over the mountain that serves up spectacular views of the Middle Earth paired with delicious food.
The only thing that lacks in Turoa is lodging. The good news is that there are more options available in the town of Ohakune that is only 30 minutes away from the lifts.
Turoa is best known for having the longest vertical drop in the entire Australasia complete with modern lift infrastructures.
Turoa is an ideal spot for learners and its high elevation requires lots of snowfall. There are also superb restaurants and great nightlife in the area.
The closest airports to Turoa are Taihape Airport that is only an hour drive and Auckland Airport that is 4.5 hour drive.
9. Broken River
Broken River provides a more extensive selection of terrain compared to some of the rest of the club ski fields you can find in the area. This, on top of the fact that children below 11 years old get to ski for free, is what makes it the best choice for all families provided that everyone will be able to get themselves feel comfortable and at ease with the rope tow lifts.
As the club doesn’t attract a lot of visitors, the powder stashes only last for a few days in its sheltered bowls. At the day lodge, you will find basic food service as well as the relatively affordable lessons. However, this is the only extent of the amenities in the resort. This is a place perfect for those with adventurous souls searching for quality snow, fantastic terrain, and laidback and friendly vibe.
10. Craigieburn Valley
The Craigieburn Valley is never meant for the fainthearted as well as for novices for that matter. The terrain you will find here is only meant for experienced riders and skiers, split evenly between expert and intermediate trails.
The highlights of Craigieburn Valley include the easy access to the advanced freeriding, wide open powder bowls, uncrowded runs, and steep narrow chutes.
The terrain you will find at Cragieburn Valley is challenging, exciting, and varied with its notorious 600-meter vertical descent of the Middle Basic that is usually compared to heli-skiing experience that can be accessed through the simple traverse starting from the tow.
This resort is also a certified classic club field. It means that this is not for the purpose of profit and instead, this is being run by the dedicated members of the club. Craiggie, as it is popularly called, is an exciting place for skiing and still remains to be widely undiscovered. This means that you can expect for more freshies here.
The mid of July up to late September is the best time to go to Craigieburn Valley. The area has 3 lifts and a terrain of 988 acres. The bar at Koroheke Lodge is a great place to drop by after spending a great time outdoors.
Facilities in the resorts include the day lodge found close to the peak of the mountain that serves fresh coffee and hot food. There are also two overnight lodges in Craigieburn, namely Matuhi and Koroheke that are nestled away right under the treeline. They also provide a friendly and warm retreat right off the snow after you spend a challenging day on the hill. Take note that you will not find any ski rental facilities here at Craigieburn.
The resort is located only 1.5 hours or 68 miles from Christchurch on Highway 73. Black Diamond Safaris, Smylies, and independent operators offer transfers between Craigieburn and Christchurch.
Whakapapa served as the filming location for Mordor featured in the saga of The Lord of the Rings. If this is not enough to grab your attention, Whakapapa is sitting right on top an active volcano. Whakapapa, with its around 70 runs, is perfect for everyone from experts down to the novices. It has the biggest dedicated beginner area in New Zealand, safely tucked away from the faster skiers and more advanced runs that make this resort an ideal spot for families.
The accommodations in the area are also more convenient compared to the neighboring Turoa with numerous lodges located at the base as well as a more extensive selection at the National Park. Since it is accessible, however, you can expect that the place will likely get more crowded. As you can see, there is no shortage of ski resorts in New Zealand. It means that you will surely be able to find the perfect resort that will meet your needs and your specific level of ability. If you ever find yourself in New Zealand, make sure you check out one of these resorts.