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Skiing in New Zealand – A Complete Guide to Slopes and Resorts (Guest Post)

Are you a skier who misses the snowy slopes during summer? If so, New Zealand is the place to go. In the southern hemisphere, it is winter when the north is reeling under summer. New Zealand has some of the best powdery slopes in the world that will take your breath away. Combined with a long skiing season and top-notch facilities, the Kiwi land is a perfect skiing getaway.

Apart from its great slopes, New Zealand has plenty more to offer. If you are new to this part of the world, you must come prepared and know what to expect. This complete guide to slopes and resorts in New Zealand will cover it all and help you plan for the perfect skiing experience in this spectacular land.

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When to go

The long skiing season in New Zealand starts from early June and extends up to late October. If conditions are favorable, some ski resorts in the north island may remain open till November! However, once you’ve decided where to go, it is a good idea to confirm with the resorts and book in advance.

Tips for those on a budget

  • Find a buddy with a car or make friends with someone having a car. New Zealand’s public transport isn’t comprehensive. Having a car will open up several opportunities to explore.
  • Buy a season pass as early as you can.
  • Carry packed lunches to avoid splurging money for food at ski resorts. 
  • Avoid eating out as much as possible. Self-cooking is way cheaper.
  • Take advantage of the happy hours to treat friends to drinks.
  • Don’t forget to ask for local discounts and deals.
  • Bring your own skis, ski poles, and other accessories. Renting equipment can get costly.
  • Know that end-of-the-season rates are up to 20% less expensive.

Slope and resort guide

New Zealand can broadly be divided into two- South and North Island when it comes to ski slopes. The following section will delve into detail about both.

Skiing in New Zealand: The South Island

The South Island is larger and considered more picturesque. It has a gorgeous coastline, stunning peaks, and fjords inland. Here are some of its most popular skiing destinations:

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1.) Mt Hutt

At around a 90-minute drive from Christchurch, Mt Hutt is conveniently located. Spanning over 360 hectares and it is the highest and largest commercial ski field in the South Island. It has 25 trails and a vertical drop of 2,241 feet. This resort caters mainly to the more advanced skiers, but separate areas are allocated for beginners.

You can sign up for group or individual lessons for all ages and levels. Mount Hutt was voted New Zealand’s best ski resort in 2015 and 2016.

2.) Coronet Peak

New Zealand’s first commercial snowfield, Coronet Peak, is the most popular ski resort. With 27 trails and the best intermediary terrain in New Zealand, it has something for everybody. The early age learning center for young kids and a tubing park help cater to the whole family.

It has 8 lifts, including 4 learner conveyor lifts, chair lifts, and 1 tea bar. Thrice a week, the lights are turned on till 10 PM to allow you to enjoy the unique experience of night skiing. Coronet Peak is only a 20-minute drive from downtown Queenstown and has regular bus services from the city.

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Kiwi Discovery Queenstown, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

3.) Treble Cone

Located around a 30-minute drive from Wanaka city, Treble Cone is the second largest ski area in New Zealand. This ski resort is famous for its intermediate and advanced level runs. The beginner runs are pretty recent and comprise only 10% of the runs.

It provides 4 different chairlifts with a capacity of 6,200 skiers per hour. You can use the daily shuttle service to and from Wanaka and 20 trails to get there. The Base Lodge has free mountain parking if you drive there. 

4.) Ohau Snow Fields

Ohau Snow Fields is the perfect getaway for those wanting to avoid long lift lines and large crowds. This resort has 15 trails and 16 runs for all levels of skiers. The Ohau Ski Lodge, a short ride away, offers a comfortable stay after a strenuous day’s skiing.

5.) Snow Farm New Zealand

For Nordic skiing enthusiasts, Snow Farm New Zealand is the place to go. It features 55 kilometers of trails and has a lodge that can cater to 150 people. You take a break from skiing to enjoy activities like Husky dog sledding, snowshoeing, and snowmobile tours.

For kids, there is a Snow Fun Zone where they can play in the snow, make snowmen, tube, and toboggan. You can get to Snow Farm from Wanaka.  

6.) Temple Basin

With raw alpine terrain and no well-groomed runs, Temple Basin is about 2 hours outside of Christchurch. It has just 3 tow rope lifts and a few ski lodges for food and accommodation. This rustic resort is best for intermediate and expert skiers who prefer a quiet skiing experience far from the crowds.

Skiing in New Zealand:The North Island

New Zealand’s North Island is famous for volcanic activity, wine, and sunshine. But don’t let that fool you. It also offers some stunning natural slopes for skiing. The most popular skiing destinations in the North Island are confined to Mt Ruapehu in the Tongariro National Park.

Mt Ruapehu, a giant volcano, has two unique ski fields- Whakapapa and Tūroa. The volcanic terrain of Mt Ruapehu gives you plenty of natural jumps and expansive bowls and is one of the most challenging skiing destinations in New Zealand!

Whakapapa

Situated in the breathtaking Tongariro National Park, Whakapapa offers the best natural ski terrain in New Zealand. It has 44 km of slopes and 8 lifts.

Tūroa

This resort also lies in the beautiful Tongariro National Park. It offers 20 km of slopes and 7 lifts. Due to its southwest-facing orientation, Tūroa has the most extended ski season in New Zealand. In some seasons, it remains open until late October!

Both these resorts offer unparalleled vistas and challenging terrain. They have excellent accommodation and training facilities for all levels of skiers. You will be delighted with the secret stashes of powdery snow waiting to be discovered. Both these destinations have something for all. They also offer training lessons from beginner to advanced levels. 

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Swisher14, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

New Zealand is sparsely populated, and many winter sports locations are yet to be discovered or barely known. The above guide is just a sample of what it has to offer. If you are the adventurous type, you could try exploring a mountainside after being dropped off on a peak by a helicopter. You’ll be surprised to find many hidden pockets of powder. 

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A guide to skiing in New Zealand, discover the best slopes and resorts in New Zealand to enjoy this winter sport!
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