The ski season in New Zealand is generally June to October; the exact dates depend on the snow conditions each year. Skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities will find stunning scenery, powdery snow, exciting apres-activities, bars and restaurants, and fantastic ski conditions on both South Island and North Island.....where you can ski on a real volcano!
Beginning with the South Island, there are three main ski areas; Canterbury, Mount Cook Mackenzie, and Queenstown By flying to Christchurch, Canterbury and Mount Cook Mackenzie are easily accessible, and Queenstown is the nearest airport to the slopes of Queenstown. The Canterbury Plains surround Christchurch and those in search of winter sports will find everything they need in a ski-resort right here; resorts include Porters, Craigieburn, Broken River, Cheesman, Mount Olympus, Temple Basin and Mount Hutt.
The closest resort to Christchurch, Porters provides excellent facilities for beginners, whilst the Craigieburn Valley Ski Area has some adrenaline pumping slopes for the more advanced or expert skier. On-mountain accommodation is available at Broken River if you want to wake up each morning right in the heart of the action. If you prefer a small ski area, Cheeseman has all the facilities you will need and is extremely convenient for families as you can drive right to the ski lifts.
At Mount Olympus, on the southern end of the Craigieburn Range, there is a Japanese Onsen style hot-tub on the slopes! Skiing at Temple Basin is club-based, so it’s all about meeting people - as well as skiing right in the middle of New Zealand’s Southern Alps in the Arthurs Pass National Park. Suitable for all ages and abilities, Mount Hutt offers a nice, long ski season and is one of the country’s largest ski areas. Children 10 and under receive free day lift passes. You could stay in Methven, about one hour from Christchurch, and pick up the bus to take you direct to the slopes at Mount Hutt.
A little further south is the Mount Cook Mackenzie area. Roundhill is a great ski area for the whole family to enjoy and offers some stunning views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Tekapo. Enjoy the sunshine and crowd-free slopes at Ohau Snow Fields, and Mount Dobson boasts 14 separate ski runs to suit skiers of all abilities.
South of here, Queenstown and Wanaka can be described as a winter wonderland. Surrounded by the snow-capped mountains of the New Zealand Alps and dotted with spectacular lakes, ski resorts include Treble Cone, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cardrona.
So, how do you fancy skiing on New Zealand’s only skiable volcano in the North Island, Mount Ruapehu? Ruapehu offers the best spring skiing in New Zealand (September to October) and has two resorts for skiers and snowboarders, Whakapapa and Turoa. Whakapapa has a beginner’s area called Happy Valley, and both Whakapapa and Turoa have facilities to cater for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. Enjoy some awesome views across the central North Island whilst you refuel in one of the award-winning cafes and bars on the mountain.
Don’t forget chains for your car when you travel along snow and ice.
Don’t plan your skiing trip during the New Zealand school holidays if at all possible - it will be much less busy during term-time.
Do find out about children’s passes - often children 10 and under get free ski passes, or children a bit older are entitled to ski for free with a full paying adult.
Get the most out of your rental gear this snow season.
Stay safe in the snow and learn more about snow safety.
What you should do in an avalanche.
Our guide to saving time and money with your luggage.