Image: NZSki.com, photo by Tony Harrington

New Zealand Skifields – Where To Start

New Zealand offers some of the world’s best skiing, with a huge number of varied fields crammed in to its relatively small area. Every local and visitor has their own favourites, and you could spend a lifetime getting to know and enjoy everything the nation’s snowsports scene has to offer, but if you’re not sure where to start, here’s our suggestions!

North Island

Whakapapa / Turoa (Ruapehu)

Mt Ruapehu is home to New Zealand’s two largest ski areas, Whakapapa and Turoa, and provides a unique chance to ski on an active volcano and in a World Heritage Area. Family-friendly Whakapapa is home to New Zealand’s premiere beginners’ area, Happy Valley, as well as more than 30 groomed trails that intermediate skiers and boarders love, and for the more adventurous, 24 black and black diamond runs and the lift-accessible Black Magic backcountry area; meanwhile Turoa offers up Australasia’s longest vertical descent and New Zealand’s highest lift, a great toboganning area for the kids, and more easy access to spectacular backcountry areas and their ever-changing range of natural terrain features to play on.

South Island

Mt Hutt (Canterbury, pictured)

One of the country’s largest ski fields, the world-class Mount Hutt field in Canterbury is under 2 hours ‘drive from Christchurch and offers an all-round combination of the big mountain experience for skiers and snowboarders, a family-friendly environment, excellent facilities, and a well-rounded mix of terrain for all ages and abilities, with a network of progressive terrain parks and dedicated learning facilities.

The Remarkables / Coronet Peak (Otago)

Fields under the same management company in the Queenstown area, both The Remarkables and Coronet Peak have a reputation for all-round good times that have seen both fields recently added to the exclusive Mountain Collective, a network of just 12 of the world’s best ski resorts. A visit to either makes it easy to see why: 45 minutes from Queenstown, The Remarkables lives up to its name with plenty of space for beginners, sunny slopes, and some of the best skifield views anywhere in the world full stop, while even closer to Queenstown (25 minute’s drive), Coronet Peak has a range of excellent facilities and the terrain variety to keep both novices and experts happy.

Cragieburn Valley Ski Area (Canterbury)

An off-piste Mecca that’s offers some of the most readily accessible (and awesome!) off-piste terrain in the world, Cragieburn is somewhere that advanced skers simply shouldn’t leave the country without checking out – testified to by the fact that the slope-side accommodation is the seasonal home to a community of snow addicts from all over the world.

Broken River (Canterbury)

For skiing with a unique New Zealand flavour, it’s tough to go past this boutique ski field in Canterbury where fantastic terrain combines with uncrowded slopes, rolling bowls and steep chutes and a welcoming, chilled-out vibe that extends as far as the club brewing (and of course serving) its own craft beer!