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Skiing in New Zealand

A Handy Guide to Choosing a Ski Resort in NZ

Capital: Wellington Population: 4.471 million (2013) Religion:Christianity Official Language(s): English, Māori Time zone: 2 hours in front of EST(UTC+12) Landmass: 268,021 km2 Currency: New Zealand dollar (NZD) Emergency Number: 111

For those who just want to hit the slopes, New Zealand boasts about two dozen ski and snow boarding areas. Some are large commercial operations with grand lodges, extensive ski schools and sophisticated snow-making equipment. Others are smaller club-operated enterprises, with limited facilities and a welcoming attitude to visiting families. Visit for a full list, along with snow reports, forecasts and live webcam footage, plus news, travel and snow gear details.

North Island

Mt Ruapehu hosts the North Island’s two major commercial ski areas, Whakapapa and Turoa. Taupo, the closest major town, is about an hour away. The drive between ski fields is roughly 40 minutes and passes are completely interchangeable for both ski fields.

Turoa is known for its wide, open runs and boasts the largest vertical drop of any resort in Australasia. This season, the carpet lift has been extended for learner skiers and snowboarders.

  • Stats: 400 ha of skiable terrain, 20% beginner, 55% intermediate, 25% advanced
  • Ski School: Private and group kids’ lessons are available from age 5 for skiers and age 8 for snowboarders
  • Babysitting: Licensed on-mountain childcare is available for 2-6 years olds at Turoa Yeti Kids’ Centre
  • Terrain Park: Every ability is catered for, with beginner, intermediate and two advanced terrain parks
  • Ski hire: Rent skis, snowboards and clothing on the mountain, or in the nearby service towns of Ohakune or National Park
  • Accommodation: There is no on-snow accommodation. Ohakune, 17km from Turoa ski area, is the North Island’s major après ski town for a range of accommodation, night life, shops and services. National Park, midway between the two ski areas, also has accommodation
  • Transport: Matai Shuttles from Ohakune 0800 4 MATAI, though a sealed, two-lane access road makes this one of the more driveable ski roads in NZ
  • Activities for kids: Sleds available for hire


Whakapapa’s Happy Valley offers the largest learner’s area in New Zealand, which is serviced by a dedicated slower-speed chairlift. Compared to Turoa, Whakapapa terrain offers more narrow, steep shutes for intermediate and advanced skiers.

  • Stats: 550 ha of skiable terrain with 25% beginner, 50% intermediate, 25% advanced
  • Ski School: Private and group kids’ lessons are available from age 5 for skiers and age 8 for snowboarders
  • Babysitting: No. But a babysitting referral service is offered
  • Terrain Park: One intermediate-level terrain park
  • Ski hire: Rent skis, snowboards and clothing on the mountain or in the nearby service towns of Ohakune or National Park
  • Accommodation: There is no on-snow accommodation. Whakapapa village, 6km from the ski area, offers a range of accommodation from backpacker to luxury. Additional accommodation is available in National Park and Ohakune. Transport:
  • Transport: Mountain Shuttle from Whakapapa Village/National Park 0800 11 76 86, though a sealed, two lane access road.
  • Activities for kids: Sleds available for hire


South Island

New Zealand's largest concentration of major commercial ski areas sits around the resort towns of Queenstown and Wanaka. This region is also home to dedicated snowboarding and cross country skiing fields, Snow Park ( and Snow Farm ( Both offer on-mountain accommodation. A little further north, an hours drive from Christchurch, Mt Hutt ski field is surrounded by a cluster of smaller club fields.

Mt Hutt is regarded as a laid-back ski field, with wide-ranging terrain. It’s known for its long snow season, race training facilities and proximity to several club fields.

  • Location: 2086 m. At the base of the Southern Alps, one hour’s drive from Christchurch International Airport
  • Stats: 365 hectares (excludes Rakaia Saddle Chutes) skiable terrain, beginner/novice 25%, intermediate 50%, advanced 25%
  • Ski School: Kea Club Ski: Age 6-12 years, Snowboard: Age 8-12 years
  • Shredders Ski/Snowboard: Age 13-17 years. Kruiser Squad is a development program run during the New Zealand school holidays.
  • Babysitting: Skiwiland Early Learning Centre takes from aged 2.
  • Terrain Park: One beginner/novice park and a 10,000 sqm intermediate-advanced park
  • Ski hire: On-snow and in Methven
  • Accommodation: Available in Methven, 25 km from the base lodge
  • Transport: Available through Methven-based transport companies

Bookings: for family packages

Both centres offer oodles of child-friendly off-piste activities and a full range of accommodation options – expect to pay a premium for your bed.

Accommodation Queenstown:
Top end: Millbrook Resort or Eichardts Cottages
Mid range: Coronet Peak Hotel or The Rees
Budget: Queenstown Lodge

Accommodation Wanaka
Top end: Whare Kea or Wanaka Luxury Apartments
Mid range: Edgewater Resort or Oakridge Resort
Budget: Wanaka Hotel

Last year, Coronet Peak launched its new multi-million dollar base lodge and sophisticated snow-making facilities. It’s the only hill in New Zealand that offers night skiing (available till 9pm on Friday and Saturday nights)

  • Location: 1649m above sea level, 18km from Queenstown
  • Stats: 280 hectares of skiable terrain, beginner 25%, intermediate 45%, advanced 30%
  • Ski School: Kea Club caters for skiers 6-12 yrs, snowboarders 8-12. Shredders takes 13-17 year olds. Packages can include lunch
  • Babysitting: Skiwiland Early Learning Centre takes children from 3 months up to 5 years in their Kiwi Kids program
  • Terrain Park: One beginner/novice park
  • Ski hire: Queenstown offers the added flexibility of returning your rental equipment to either Coronet Peak, The Remarkables or downtown Queenstown Snow Centre, irrespective of where you picked it up
  • Transport: $10 return per person per day departing from either the Queenstown Snow Centre or selected Queenstown accommodation providers
  • Activities for kids:Tubing. Free day lift passes for children aged 6 and under


A north facing, sunny aspect with wide open bowls, vast off-piste terrain and the Homeward Run backcountry ski run. Offers free day lift passes for children aged 10 years and under.

  • Location: 1943 metres, 28km/45 minutes from Queenstown
  • Stats: 220ha of skiable terrain, with beginner 30%, intermediate 40%, advanced 30%
  • Ski School: Kea Club caters for skiers 6-12 yrs, snowboarders 8-12. Shredders caters for 13-17 year olds. Packages can include lunch
  • Babysitting: Skiwiland Early Learning Centre accommodates children aged 3 months up to 5 years. Older children can have some ski time
  • Terrain Parks: One beginner/novice park, one intermediate-advanced park, The Stash Burton signature terrain park and the Parklife Halfpipe for advanced boarders
  • Transport: Free return transport included in the cost of full day and multiday lift passes and combo packs when departing from the Queenstown Snow Centre, or $10 return per person per day from selected Queenstown accommodation providers
  • Activities for kids: Dedicated Ozone tubing park, open 10-3pm daily


Known for its fantastically family-friendly programs and terrain, Cardrona also hosts the annual kids� festival in September.

  • Location: Cardrona is 1670m above sea level between Wanaka and Queenstown
  • Stats: 320ha of skiable terrain with 25% percent beginner, 55% intermediate and 20% advanced
  • Ski School: Group and private lessons, beginner and achievement packages including lift and rental, Child's Play & Little Rippers for under 5s, Kids� Club for 5-14. A high performance centre caters for the more advanced. Kids can do ski or board lessons or a combination.
  • Babysitting: Yes - two licensed centres offering care from 3 months to 5 years as well as two Kids� Clubs for 5 to 14 years. Bookings essential.
  • Terrain Park: 800m of trails including impressive jumps and rails. There are also two halfpipes - one hosts World Cup events
  • Ski hire: at the mountain - includes skis and snowboards, boots, poles and executive range as well as clothing and repair service. Dedicated kids� ski hire area available with ski school programs.
  • Accommodation: Bookings are essential to nab one of the 15 on-mountain apartments.
  • Transport: Shuttles run from both Wanaka and Queenstown daily.
  • Activities for kids: For children booked into the childcare centres, sleds are available from 2-5 year olds free of charge.


For the first time, Treble Cone is offering free access to lower mountain lifts this winter. Known for its congestion-free slopes, long trails and the largest ski area and skiable terrain in the Southern Alps, it also sports a race training academy.

  • Location: Treble Cone base lodge is 1260m above sea level (summit peak 2088m). It�s the closest ski hill to Wanaka (26km-35min).
  • Stats: 550ha of skiable terrain with 10% beginner, 25% intermediate and 45% advanced
  • Ski School: TC Cat Kids Club caters for 4-15 year olds between 10am-3.15pm daily. Snowboarding lessons from age 6. Kids can also take private or two-hour group lessons. Regular visitors can access a range of development programs and a kids� camp.
  • Babysitting: Yes, the childcare centre takes children aged 3 years and up.
  • Terrain Park: Limited man-made park features but plenty of natural hits and pipes to enjoy.  TC is more renowned as a free skiing and riding mountain.
  • Rental Equipment hire: Yes, full ski and snowboard equipment available, hire jacket, pants and helmets also available
  • Accommodation: see above
  • Transport: Daily shuttle services available from Wanaka


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