Skiing in New Zealand – here’s what you need to know.
New Zealand is probably one of the best places to skiing off the southern coast of Australia. Though a small island nation with only 4.5 million population it boasts tremendously alluring glaciers and snowcapped terrains for ski fans.
Thousands of tourists flock into the country every year to experience an unforgettable ski holiday. The best time to have a ski strip in New Zealand is between August and September because this is when snow starts to go fast. However, many ski resorts tend to open between June and July.
New Zealand is blessed with lovely 25 ski resorts, 18 of which are commercially owned while some are operated by non-profit organization. There are multiple ski opportunities in New Zealand for all levels of skills. Among the best resorts are Coronet Peak, Mount Hutt, and Whakapapa.
So sit back and relax as we take you to one of the most wonderful ski resorts in New Zealand.
Seated at 16 kilometres north of Queenstown, Coronet Peak is a famous ski park for those eager to hit the thrilling slopes. It just 20-minute ride from Queenstown and only has 27 runs. Tourists also flock here for the picturesque view of the mountains and lively nightlife every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Coronet Peak has 280-hectares of skiable terrain above the tree line with 1, 229 meters to 1, 649 meters elevation. There are snowboarding and skiing courses in the area, especially in Queenstown or at Canterbury’s Mt. Hutt Ski Field.
After a day-long ski excursion, you can satisfy your hungry stomach at Heidi’s hut, a supposedly secret among locals, which have become a popular hideout for hungry skiers. They serve irresistible gourmet pizzas, pastas, and breakfasts. Of course, when you get here do not forget to take a selfie with the beautiful Lake Wakatipu, Remakable’s and Lake Hayes.
Though Coronet Peak has inconsistent snowfall and less challenging terrains, it has the longest snow season in New Zealand, reaching up to mid-September. Thanks to the 211 high-tech snowmaking machines that has improved its snow production over the years.
About 48% of Coronet Peak is ideal for novice skiers and has several trails for beginners at Big Easy area. It is near the base building of the resort making it widely accessible and easy to for starters. However, confident beginners can practice at Arnold’s Way and get there through the Coronet Express Chair – the easiest blue trail down to the valley.
Approximately 52% of the terrains are reserved for experts and are very steep such as the Black Bowl, Walk About, Ego Alley, and the Donkey Serenade. Coronet is definitely not for the faint-hearted amidst the seemingly laidback view.
Coronet is not only a ski resort but a haven of other attractions. You shouldn’t miss the WalkAbout, Fruj Halfpipe and Dirty Dog Terrain Park. A magical powdery snowcapped terrain is accessible at the Rocky Gully, where remarkable snowboarding activities usually happen. Activities run from day to night, so you need to make you’d have a good rest to prep-up your body for the best Coronet skiing experience.
Accommodation, Afterski & Nightlife
Coronet has 4 restaurants serving local and international cuisines. Don’t forget to swing by West End Café and Loco Cantina. A vibrant après-ski, shopping areas, and night bars are available in Queensland.
Mount Hutt is humbly nestled high in the Southern Alps. Popularly known for its awe-inspiring ski resorts, it boasts large alpine terrains and remarkable ski boarding experience. Best known as the New Zealand’s Best Ski resort for 4 consecutive years, it is definitely a must-visit place. The 6th Annual World Ski Awards in Kitzbühel, Austria also recognized the place for its Kids 4 Free Campaign.
Thanks to the snowboarding opportunities for kids in the area, it made the whole place suitable for families. If you think your 10-year old kid will not enjoy skiing, well think about it again. Mount Hunt offers snowboarding training for kids below 10 years old throughout the weekdays.
Mount Hutt offers true mountain experience with 2, 190 elevation when snow falls. The people here are very hospitable and you’ll not only enjoy the vibe but the beautiful attractions for kids as well. This is probably the most kid-friendly ski resort in New Zealand with variety of runs, consistent snowfall, and enormous view of the Southern Alps.
Located 36 kilometres away from Methven, Mount Hutt has one of the snowiest ski terrains in New Zealand with peak 2,806 meters and average 4 meter of snow per person. Now the resort has 76 snow machines, 5 lifts including the 140-meter Magic Carpet lift and Sunkid Carpters, with 40km of slopes for skiing, and 365 hectares of skiable terrains.
Beginners can take the Summit Six Chairlift and access the easy intermediate Fascination and Morning Glory Trails. Though the terrains for beginners are less sloping, they are not for the faint hearted. Proper cardio exercise and complete must be had before anyone takes any skiing adventure.
Intermediate skiers will have their moment for a lifetime with the spanning Southern Aps view and the volcanic mountains of the Banks Peninsula and Pacific Ocean to the south. All terrains are well-groomed and wide open, which means you’ll definitely like you’ve owned the world as you get here.
Advanced skiers will notice that most of the slopes for skiing in Mount Hutt are marked black and some can be thigh-burning. Difficult black-diamonds terrain can be found at the Towers. Look out of ungroomed exit and other risky terrains from the Virgin Mile Ridge and The Bluffs area.
Mount Hunt opens as early as June, which is summer in other countries. So while everyone is having summer on the other side of the world, you can make the best of your snowy experience at Mount Hutt.
Accomodation, After Ski, and Night Life
Mount Hutt doesn’t offer many options for après ski and night life but you can head to Sky High Café for pizza. Sumptuous options are available in Caterbury and more nightlife can be found in Methven.
The good thing about Mount Hutt is that you have a lot of options when it comes to accommodation. Just make sure you book your hotel in advance as hotels near Mount Hutt are usually full during peak season.
Some of the hotels you can opt include the Mount Hutt Lodge, Methven Motels and Apartments, and Mt Hutt Bunkhouse Lodge and Cottage. These accommodations are not that much but you can definitely find some great deals here.
Nestled high on the north-western slopes of Mount Ruapehu lays the Whakapapa, a popular ski field. It is only five hours away from Auckland and Wellington and super near to the World Heritage Tongariro National Park.
When snow rolls down, it can reach up to 2, 797 meters with a massive 550-hectare terrain. If it’s your first time going here, you can witness the famous kiwi-skiers slide down the slopes along with popular sports enthusiasts.
Aside from its alluringly daunting white slopes, Whakapapa is famous for its iconic Middle Earth tours, volcano skiing, and snowboarding. You’ will love the amazing tour from Whakapapa’s T-Bar to Ruapehu’s crater where skiers can cruise down to the other side. Just brace yourself and get your legs ready because each ski resorts are 80-minute drive apart.
The Whakapapa offer varying terrain levels for beginners, intermediate, and advanced skiers. This resort opens from June to October with an average of 4 meters snow annually with a naturally captivating lava field diving the Whakapapa ski terrain into two.
Thanks to the old lava flows and naturally-formed half pipes, expert skiers can spend days on the slopes and still not get enough of the diverse, powder-filled runs. Most of the black runs are located near the Amphitheatre and the Waterfall Express.
Overall, you will find 44 marked pistes spread over 3 main skiing areas. There are 13 ski lifts in the resort that can carry 15, 000 guests per hour. One-third of the resort is best for beginners with wide gentle, less sloping snow fields. hese slopes are located near the Delta Chair station. Separated from the main skiing areas, the Happy Valley at the base of the resort is perfect for children and first-timers. Intermediate skiers can leverage 50% of the resort with 30 groomed runs and 2,000-meter altitude.
Advanced skiers can ski on an active volcano and explore Mt. Ruapehu’s superb off-piste terrain where you can see the world’s famous black diamond runs. Thrill seekers will find what they’re looking for at The Pinnacles where they will find double-diamonds black trails that sure to test the expertise and skiing skills of every experienced skier.
Accommodation, Afterski & Nightlife
Whakapapa may not be a top choice if you’re looking for après-ski but it will definitely satisfy you with a great skiing experience. The sun terrace of the Knoll Ridge Chalet is a highlight in the area and is something you should not miss when you visit here.
Some of the closest hotels to Whakapapa Powderhorn Chateau in Mount Ruapehu, The Park Hotel, and Skotel Alpine Resort.
The Remarkable’s is a great ski resorts for anyone who want to practice skiing, which is just a 40-minute drive from Queenstown.
It is a haven of some of the best terrain parks in the country and amazing scenery making it a top choice for families who simply want to take time skiing and not race through the thrilling terrains like in Coronet.
Also known as Ao-raki or “Cloud Piercer”, Mount Cook is the highest mountain peak in New Zealand with 12,316-feet elevation during winter. It boasts great scenery, lovely terrains but the unpredictable weather conditions can sometimes make skiing here almost impossible.
If you want to experience one of the best skiing in New Zealand, you’ll need to head to Mountain Cook when the weather is good. Did you know, it has been the mountain of choice for various Hollywood films like the Vertical Limit and Lord of the Rings? This is why you should not miss this place.
Advanced skiers can take a copter-ride to Heliskiing, where they can jump off and ski down the slope. Just a friendly warning, only ski experts are allowed here.
Situated near Mt. Cook, Rounhill is a winter wonderland with a fantastic view of Aoraki or Mount Cook. It is relatively small but definitely a great choice for families looking forward to enhance their skiing talents.
Some terrains at Roundhill have ski cuvers, which are perfectly suited for intermediate and advanced skiers who are hungry for thrilling adventures. There are many events held annually here such Kids Race Day and Dad’s Weekend.
Roundhill can get crowded during peak season so it is important to book in advance in order to have a comfortable accommodation for your family.
Just a 40-minutue drive from Wanaka seats the lovely Cardrona ski resort. Here, you will see more than just skiing and snowboarding. It offers just a mixture of everything that families and thrill-seekers love doing.
If you’re from Queenstown, you can reach from Cardrona through a 50-minute car drive. A favorite by locals, Cardrona offers exceptional vertical drop and decent amount of acreage. Terrains are available for skiers of all levels. In addition to the snowcapped landscape, Cardrona is adorned with modern infrastructures, scenic views. If you’re bringing kids you must swing by the Arcadia Chutes and the Tulips area.
Expect Cardrona to have well groomed terrains. Since the resort is up to par with Olympic standards, trainings and competitions are often held here. So far it has one of the highest elevation points in New Zealand with 1,860 meters when snow starts to fall.
Cardrona fall shorts of hotel accommodations within the vicinity but families can take refuge in the beautiful town of Wanaka.
New Zealand is a haven of goodness, thrill, and adventure. It offers both the most relaxing and wildest escapade of a lifetime. Whether you are traveling solo or going with a family, you will definitely consider your trip to this country as one of your most memorable vacation ever.
With a yearly average of 3.82 million visitors in New Zealand, it is hard to deny this place is magic. And while it is certainly not a big country, it does have a reputation for being a top go-to destination for skiers.
Here’s to some of the best skiing in New Zealand! Let us know which resort you enjoyed the most. Happy skiing!