When thinking about New Zealand people mostly have rivers, lakes, oceans, green nature and lots of sheep in their mind. But there are so many great winter sport destinations. The skiing season in New Zealand is around June to September in the southern hemispheres winter season.
The Southern Alps provide all the famous locations but even the warmer North Island hosts scenic and decent skiing in Taranaki’s Manganui ski fields and on the centrally located Mt Ruapehu you will be skiing on a volcano. There are two skiing areas, Whakapapa and Turoa.
The South Island offers a big range of great skiing areas which all combine quality ski fields with spectacular views. From Queenstown and Christchurch (both have airports) you can easily access 9 epic ski fields and further north there are more, for example near Nelson and Hanmer Springs.
Here is a bit of information to all the areas on the South Island you can choose from:
From Christchurch you can drive within a good hour to the first ski fields. Christchurch is located on a very flat terrain, the Canterbury terrains. But you can see the mountains in the distance from the city. The first fields you will find are Mt Hutt and Porters, of which Porters is the beginner friendly and Mt Hutt the more exciting field. Nearby you can stay in Methven, a village that has everything a winter sports lover needs on his travels. Another great place to stay is Castle Hill Village. You might have heard of Castle Hill, it is one of the most famous Lord of the rings locations and an amazing sight. From Castle Hill Village there is access to a lot more ski fields like Cragieburn and Broken River. Further northwest lies the Temple Basin ski field located on the scenic Arthurs Pass.
When done with the skiing part use the rest of you trip to explore the West Coast, from Castle Hill Village or Temple Basin you are already half way to Greymouth and it is worth the trip.
Hanmer Springs / Mt Lyford:
These two ski fields offer options for all levels of skiers and snowboarders and each have really nice places to stay. Mt Lyford is the perfect choice for families due to its variety of pistes. Hanmer Springs has some hot springs which is an amazing addition to a winter sports holiday. The Hanmer Springs ski field is located on Mt St. Patrick.
Queenstown / Wanaka:
Around Queenstown and Wanaka are a lot of attractions which makes it hard to name favorites because they are all good, really. There is a lot on offer for the active and thrill-seeking folks, Queenstown is often called the Earth’s capital of extreme sports. Give yourself a treat with Sky Diving, Bungy Jumping or enjoy the nightlife, especially in Queenstown. The skiing itself is great. The four main ski fields are Treble Cone, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cardrona. The Treble Cone field is the biggest in the country and just 30 minutes away from Wanaka in a shuttle / car.
South Canterbury / Otago:
Here you will find some amazing skiing as well and you will see the clear lakes of Ohau and Tekapo while descending mountains. You should definitely look into the sky at night. The view in New Zealand is amazing everywhere but we thought it was even more spectacular over here. There is hardly any light pollution making it a perfect spot to look at the Milky Way.
The Rainbow Ski fields are located south of Nelson at St. Arnaud Village It is important to have snow chains as the conditions on the road can change fairly quick. It is a great choice as it is so isolated from all big cities and part of the beautiful Nelson Lakes National Park. The ski fields have options for beginners, intermediate and advanced level. Here the season always starts around mid-July and ends around mid-October.
Skiing / Snowboarding in New Zealand is not that cheap, though. A 5 day pass for the big Treble Cone ski field costs 90 NZD per day, the Rainbow Ski field in Nelson offer a combo of Ski / Snowboard + Boots + day pass for 141 NZD to get an idea about the price level. But it is worth spending a bit of money because the ski fields in New Zealand offer dramatic views and usually don’t get too busy. There is still the chance of taking the cheaper half day passes which gives the opportunity to explore the surroundings for the rest of the days.