If snow is your thing then New Zealand is the place for you. The ski season runs from June to September. On many fields you can ski from lake-shores to mountain peaks with postcard views at every turn. Alpine peaks, azure lakes serviced by local towns jam packed with Kiwi hospitality. That's what you get when you embark upon a ski holiday of a lifetime in New Zealand. In the South Island, home to 3 main ski areas, expect world-class ski schools with accommodation close to the snow fields and transport from door to slope. There is value for money ski deals covering all the essentials. Did we mention restaurants galore? adventure activities and wineries close to town? Three Islands NZ can arrange equipment hire, child-care, lessons and much, much more.
If cross-country, or Nordic skiing (snowshoeing), is more your thing then why not check out the Snow Farm in New Zealand's South Island.
Want to avoid the chairlift? Check out heli-skiing or heli-boarding. Let a helicopter take you to the top of the mountain and carve smooth turns through silky, untouched powder in the stillness of the backcountry, senses humming from the rush of a helicopter flight. Heli-skiing companies have exclusive access to thousands of square kilometers of snowy bowls, rolling slopes, challenging chutes and deep powder basins. They find the best snow for their clients, every time. From Christchurch we recommend Methvyn HeliSki, if you're in Queenstown try Harris Mountains HeliSki, and from Wanaka give Southern Lakes HeliSki a go.
Christchurch - Canterbury Ski Area
The Christchurch – Canterbury region stretches from ocean to The Alps, contrasting sweeping plains and mountain peaks. Just 1 ½ hours from Christchurch, Mt Hutt is a giant amongst giants that boasts the longest ski season in New Zealand. Nearby at Porters is a haven for learners on up. After you’ve explored the slopes, explore the variety of vibrant Christchurch, gateway to a range of outdoor and relaxation activities. Or, stay in Methven – a town for snow sports enthusiasts looking to conquer nearby Mt Hutt.
Mt Hutt Ski Area is the biggest commercial ski field in Canterbury. It has premium chairlifts and on-mountain dining options. The terrain is super groomed so is suitable for beginner to intermediate as well as steep chutes and open bowls for advanced to expert. Kids ski for free.
Nearby Porters Ski Area is the closest chairlift ski resort to Christchurch. It has a club vibe with commercial facilities. There is an exciting mix of beginner to expert terrain as well as a fully licensed cafe restaurant and an excellent ski school.
Craigieburn Valley Ski Area is a nutcracker rope tow accessed backcountry skiing area. It has a family club style vibe and mountain rustic accommodation where full board is optional. This is big mountain skiing. You can hike from here to Broken River Ski Area where you can ride NZ's only alpine funicular (rail system) to access the base lodge. Here there are big open bowls, steep chutes, primarily geared towards intermediate to advanced and expert
Mt Cook Mackenzie Ski Area
As Aoraki-Mt Cook soars high above you, the boutique ski fields of Roundhill, Mt Dobson and Ohau spread out before you. Enjoy the supreme ski conditions of Mount Cook Mackenzie, a region of sprawling countryside providing a variety of delectable groomed trails, backcountry skiing and freestyle parks. Get ready for scenery that redefines spectacular, including the cosy township of Lake Tekapo – an alpine retreat and photographer’s dream come true. When you're not skiing, you might like to visit New Zealand's tallest mountain and longest glacier, have a soak in natural hot springs, or go stargazing in the world's newest UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve.
Roundhill Ski Area is often described as a quiet and laid-back achiever. It has the longest rope tow in the Southern Hemisphere over a 700-metre vertical drop with a mix of intermediate cruising terrain and daring off-piste.
Ohau Ski Field is an un-crowded slope with a welcoming, family friendly vibe and stunning lakeside views. It also has an all inclusive family friendly lakeside lodge at the mountain base.
Mount Dobson Ski Area is inexpensive and family friendly. Known as a hidden gem club field with modern facilities you can enjoy above the treeline skiing on un-crowded slopes.
Queenstown - Wanaka Ski Area
Make your way over to Queenstown and Wanaka to experience world-class ski resorts, exciting off-mountain activities and scenery that will blow you away. Surrounded by the dramatic Southern Alps, this stunning winter wonderland features row after row of snowcapped mountains dotted with sparkling, pristine lakes. Queenstown - Wanaka offers skiing for every level, including Nordic ski, night ski experiences and the largest heli-ski terrain outside North America. Queenstown - Wanaka boasts four world-class ski resorts: The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Treble Cone. Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand, has an expansive range of off-slope activities matched in excitement by the buzz of the town. Wanaka, a tranquil oasis, mixes small town charm with the quality of an international travel destination.
Close to Wanaka is Treble Cone Ski Area which is the largest ski area in South Island. There are wide groomers and steeper open bowls as well as free riding chutes for experts. To top it off, on-mountain al fresco dining.
Coronet Peak Ski Area is the closest field to Queenstown. It has a fully sealed access road, multi-million dollar base lodge, high-speed chairlifts and a day care for little ones and an international ski school. If you want to try night-skiing, this is the place.
The Remarkables Ski Area is set within a natural amphitheatre. It has a new, high-speed chairlift, dedicated beginner areas, natural terrain parks and is only a short hike to expert terrain.
Cardrona Alpine Resort, mid way between Queenstown & Wanaka and my own personal favourite, has something for everyone; terrain parks and super pipe, wide open groomed runs, steep chutes, excellent child care and kids ski club. There is also accommodation at the top of the mountain.
Snow Farm is New Zealand's home of cross country skiing. Set high on the Pisa Range within easy reach of Queenstown and Wanaka, it has 55km's of scenic trails perfect for cross country skiing, snowshoeing and fatbiking. Whether you want to experience the peace and tranquility of the secluded Pisa alpine valleys, awe-inspiring views of the Southern Alps and Mt Aspiring, or are looking for a day of winter family fun, they have the trails and terrain for you.
Central North Island Ski Area
The Central North Island is home to New Zealand's only skiable volcano. With wide open plains, rivers and awe-inspiring mountains Mt Ruapehu isn’t your usual alpine destination. Probably because the ski fields are on a volcano!
Whakapapa's dedicated beginners area, Happy Valley, is great for learning and kids. Old lava flows make great natural half-pipes and challenging terrain for intermediates and experts. Turoa, on the south-western side, caters for beginners to advanced, and snowboarders will love the dedicated terrain park. Mt Ruapehu lift passes give you access to both areas.