What was meant to be a couple of hours playing in the snow with the kids whilst admiring the views, turned into a day of firsts and fun!
Located in the heart of the South Island of New Zealand, high on the Pisa Range, The Snow Farm is easily accessed from both Wanaka (45 minutes) and Queenstown (1 hour 25 minutes). Its unique location provides stunning views of the Southern Alps and particularly Tititea or Mount Aspiring.Snow Farm is owned and operated by the Pisa Alpine Charitable Trust (PACT) and is the only non-profit ski area in the Southern Lakes region.
PACT was formed to secure the ownership of the Snow Farm to ensure that the area remains available for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, summer recreational activities, along with winter and summer educational programmes.
Having visited Snow Farm a few years ago when the kids were young, we thought we’d re-visit on our recent trip to Wanaka. We had decided to pay the $10 each for a day pass to their Snow Fun Zone which is a safe space for kids to enjoy all the classic winter activities (building snowmen, having snowball fights and making snow angels). The kids had a ball, especially when we hired some tubes and let them loose down the 150-meter tubing hill!
Having only ever snowboarded and never worn a pair of skis in my life I was a bit hesitant to attempt the cross-country skiing. However, being a spectator wasn’t enough for me so off I went to buy a trail pass and rent the gear. The staff were very lovely as well as professional and I was surprised at how good value Snow Farm was (compared to other ski resorts in NZ).
Well … what an experience! I work out at the gym regularly and would consider myself quite fit, however in the days following my first cross country skiing I have felt pain in muscles that I never knew I had! It’s a good type of pain though, that I didn’t even feel while I was doing it. How could you when you are in awe of thestunning New Zealand Alpine environment as you climb, descend and traverse the gentle rolling hills and peaceful valleys of the Pisa Range.
Our three kids aged, 6, 4 and 2 also enjoyed their first time cross country skiing. Our six year old who is normally a speed freak and would prefer to race down the mountain actually told us afterwards that it was just as much fun as downhill skiing – high praise indeed from an adrenaline junkie!
In addition to the 55km of trails groomed for both skating and classic cross-country skiing, Snow Farm has 24km’s of Snowshoe Trails that take you past some of the best alpine meadows, rock features and alpine streams the Pisa range has to offer. Snowshoes are a great way to get off the beaten track and explore the snow-covered hills of the Southern Alps. Snow Farm promise that you will find travelling on these trails a breeze with their lightweight, easy-to-use snowshoe fleet. The trails take between one and two hours to complete and are bound to leave you with a bunch of awesome photos to remember your trip. I have already booked in a trip to do this next winter!
We don’t have a furry friend (yet) but Snow Farm recognises that your pup is a part of your family and that he or she could enjoy the Snow Farm NZ trails as much as, if not more than, you do. So providing you have a valid Dog Day Pass or Dog Season Pass, you can take your dog with you for an adventurous ski or snowshoe.
If you don’t have a dog but would like an altogether different experience, how about being part of a sled dog team running through the high trails of the Southern Alps that you can drive yourself or ride along in the basket with an experienced musher at the helm?
Tours cater for ages 18 months and up with options to Drive Your Own Team or ride in the Basket as one of Snow Farm’s Guides drives your team. Underdog NZ provides tours that range from short experiences to overnight trips. Tours can cater for disabilities and be customised to meet any specific requirements.
We can’t forget the most important thing when spending the day up a mountain – the bar and café! Snow Farm has both so whether you decide that it’s a glass of red wine or a hot chocolate that you need, you won’t be disappointed. They also have a restaurant and accommodation, in case you want to make a weekend or longer of it.
The road up to Snow Farm is not sealed but is suitable for most vehicles including 2WD cars. All vehicles travelling to Snow Farm must carry chains in their car in the event it has or is snowing and the road conditions are such that chains must be fitted. Signage on the road will indicate where you should fit chains. If you don’t fancy the drive, or are unsure how to fit chains, Yello! operates a shuttle service from Wanaka to Snow Farm NZ twice daily — a morning and afternoon shuttle. It can also pick you up at your hotel and drop you back.
Snow Farm is open 9am to 4pm daily and the season runs from late June to late September. However,Snow Farm is more than just a winter destination. The trails are perfect for exploring the alpine environment of the Pisa Range by foot or mountain biking. Their backcountry huts are great for a family overnight tramping trip or as the base for a longer bike-packing or tramping trip further afield, or just to escape for the night.All Snow Farm NZ trails are open in summer for mountain biking and hiking. So no excuses, start planning your trip – I know we are!
See their website here for further information or to book.