We know New Zealand Ski Resorts
Why people ski New Zealand:Located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is broken into two main islands, the North Island & the South Island - original right? These two islands are unique and diverse but offer equally picturesque landscapes and visitors can ski or snowboard on both the North and South Island & New Zealand has developed a deserved reputation as an international skiing destination.
Australian’s love heading across the ditch to ski and snowboard for several reasons, with proximity and price being two major factors. From the east-coast the flight is only about 3-hours, comparatively you could drive for three hours here and still be in the same state! It is awesome that you can leave home in the morning and be on the ski slopes in New Zealand the same afternoon! New Zealand ski fields are uncrowded with plenty of wide-open bowls and gentle slopes for first-time skiers and off-piste skiing and heli-skiing for the more adventurous.
By comparison to many other ski resorts, New Zealand is extremely good value for money, this is partly due to currency conversion and the fact the AUD and NZD are usually similar, but also because there is an excellent selection of accommodation to choose from and resorts do excellent early bird lift ticket prices every year PLUS Kids under 7 years ski free at NZ Ski Resorts, even over peak travel dates. A family ski holiday never looked so good.
Other key reasons to ski New Zealand include no language barrier (even though sometimes that kiwi twang is little hard to understand); driving on the same side of the road makes exploring easier; the incredible food and wine culture; the breathtaking scenery and vast selection of activities available.
Where to ski in New Zealand:By global standards, New Zealand is a small country, but when it comes to skiing and snowboarding, the size of the country does not give a good indication of the amount of skiable terrain that is available! With a total of 18 commercially operated ski resorts in New Zealand, the region has a lot to offer skiers and snowboards. Of these, there are 7 major mountains which attract visitors to New Zealand each winter.
In the North Island you will find Mt Ruapehu,New Zealand’s largest ski resort in area, which combines the Whakapapa & Turoa Ski Fields. These two peaks offer plenty to suit all levels of ability, from Whakapapa’s world-class beginner slopes and learning facilities, through to the longest vertical in New Zealand at Turoa. Being a volcano means the landscape around Mt Ruapehu is also vividly panoramic and adds an element of staggering beauty to your ski holiday, the surroundings are enough to take your breath away.
Heading further down to the South Island, you find some of New Zealand’s most popular Ski Resorts. Located a few hours from Christchurch, near the town of Methven is Mt Hutt. Known for being New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mt Hutt’s elevation means consistent snow and a longer snow season than other New Zealand ski resorts. The peak offers a good variety of terrain for all levels of skier and snowboarder, as well as having plenty of off-snow activities within driving distance, a great destination to keep the whole family entertained.
Continuing further south, Wanaka is a quaint lake town with two ski resorts to choose from, Cardrona and Treble Cone. In 2020 Cardrona Alpine Resort took over management of Treble Cone Ski Resort and now both mountains are accessible on one lift pass – this is awesome for visitors to Wanaka, offering an incredible array of terrain. Cardrona is very popular with locals and visitors, well set up to suit families, beginners and groups with skiers or snowboarders of varied skill levels. Treble Cone is the largest ski field in the South Island and gets the most snowfall annually, as well as offering excellent free-ride terrain. Wanaka is also close enough to visit Queenstown ski resorts, which makes for even more choice.
Approximately an hour south of Wanaka is Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. Queenstown is well-known as a winter holiday destination that offers not only unbeatable snow, but lots of activities, dining options and a vibrant atmosphere. Queenstown is a great base to ski Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski resort, which are both available on one lift pass (which also includes Mt Hutt). The Remarkables have some of the best ski parks in New Zealand, as well as being family-friendly and a good place for beginners to learn to ski. Coronet Peak is also very popular with panoramic views that sweep the South Island. Coronet Peak is ideally suited to intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders.
Things to do in New Zealand:
New Zealand is abundant in stunning scenery, delicious cuisine, and all kinds of adventure activities, it is any skier or snowboarders dream winter wonderland. For the adrenaline junky we recommend Heli skiing, a glacier walk, bungy jumping, or skydiving. If you prefer to spend your activities or the ski slopes more relaxing, visit one of New Zealand’s hot springs or Queenstown’s Onsen Hot Pools; relax and rejuvenate at one of the many day spas.
If you are on the North Island, we recommend a visit Taranaki Falls on a rest day, or maybe you would prefer to spend a day soaking in the Taupo Springs? Taupo is only 2 hours from Mt Ruapehu and makes for an incredibly beautiful and relaxing day trip.
In the South Island, Milford Sound is a must-see spot and can be done as an organised daytrip from Queenstown or you can self-drive if you want to stop along the way. An incredible option if you are staying in Methven is visit the Rakaia Gorge Walkway and Washpen Falls. Autumn and winter are the best seasons for humpback whale watching in Kaikoura New Zealand, so if that is on the bucket-list why not add it to your itinerary!
In our opinion, one of the most important parts of any ski holiday is the food! No matter where you stay in New Zealand there will be incredible dining options and delicious local produce to devour. If you want to level up your dining experience, take a local winery tour and explore why the country is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc.
Getting to New Zealand Ski Resorts:Direct flights from Australia operate frequently and fly into all major New Zealand airports and cities. For snow holiday makers the most convenient airports are Auckland in the North Island, and Christchurch or Queenstown in the South Island - depending which ski resort you decide to visit.
For visitors to Mt Ruapehu, you can easily hire a car and drive the 4.5 hours from either Auckland or Wellington Airport. Alternatively, if you prefer there are domestic flights into Taupo Airport and from there it is only a short 1.5hr ride to Mt Ruapehu.
Approximately 1.5 hours from Christchurch, is the alpine town of Methven which is the base for visitors skiing Mt Hutt. Most skiers and snowboards fly into Christchurch Airport and then hire a car and drive to Methven. From Methven, the drive up to Mt Hutt is 30 minutes.
Queenstown does have its own International Airport and the flight time into Queenstown is roughly 3 hours from Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. The flights can be costly over school holidays & peak travel dates, so if you are budget conscious considering flying into Christchurch or even Dunedin instead. From Christchurch, Queenstown is about 6 hours’ drive or 3.5 hours’ drive from Dunedin.
Wanaka is a 55 minutes’ drive from Queenstown which is the closest airport, or just over 3 hours’ drive from Dunedin Airport, and 5 hours’ drive from Christchurch Airport. Most visitors to Wanaka hire a car and drive from their chosen airport. It is important to make sure your hire car has snow cover, roof racks and snow chains.
When is the Best Time to Ski in New Zealand?:The ski season in New Zealand runs from June to early October, the best time to ski is generally July and August, which generally means that time of year is busier and most expensive. The cheapest time to visit ski resorts is usually early (June) or late (September) in the ski season, but double check September school holidays before you book.
For New Zealand, it often works out better value to book a package deal and always advisable to book early, especially if travelling over peak holiday dates. School Holidays specifically, we recommend booking as early as possible to get the best price and secure a room that suits your family.
If you are looking for a great value holiday package to New Zealand this winter, we have a team of ski experts who are specifically trained in all things ’New Zealand Ski Holiday’ and will be able to assist in putting together your perfect snow trip.
Weather in New Zealand:Like Australia, the official season of winter runs from June to August. The winter weather in New Zealand is relatively mild, days are generally crisp and as one would expect, the further south you venture the cooler the temperature. The North Island does see more rain over winter than the South Island.
Depending on the ski resort, you are looking at an average of 3-4 metres of snow each winter. Ski resorts in New Zealand do vary quite dramatically in snow quality depending on the time of year and location of the mountain.
New Zealand’s winter is mild compared to Canada and the USA, average winter temperatures range between -10C on the snow up to a balmy 10C in town.
So, what are you waiting for ... the mountains of New Zealand are calling!
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