Image: Lake Wanaka Tourism

New Zealand Ski Areas

With 26 New Zealand ski areas across the North and South Islands – and great powder! – skiers and snowboarders are spoilt for choice. A small population ensures relatively uncrowded slopes even in the best ski areas, and a good snow base and warmer temperatures make spring skiing in New Zealand a big draw-card.

Central North Island The central North Island boasts New Zealand’s largest and highest ski areas and you can ski on a live volcano! Ski areas in the central North Island are Whakapapa Ski Area, Turoa Ski Area and Tukino Ski Field.

Taranaki Great snowboarding is to be had on Mount Taranaki at Manganui Ski Area. Here, you can snowboard in the morning and surf in the afternoon!

Nelson Just a snowball’s throw from Nelson Lakes National Park lies Rainbow Ski Area with its uncrowded ski slopes.

Canterbury Boasting 10 brilliant ski areas, Canterbury offers New Zealand’s biggest variety of ski areas, so skiers and snowboarders are spoilt for choice! The following ski areas are to be found in the Canterbury region: Hanmer Springs Ski Area, Mount Lyford, Broken River, Craigieburn Valley Ski Area, Temple Basin, Mount Cheeseman, Mount Olympus, Porters and Mount Hutt.

Mackenzie New Zealand’s highest mountain, skiing on glaciers and snowboarding in remote backcountry – the Mackenzie region has it all. Blue lakes and mountains are an awesome scenic backdrop for Fox Peak Ski Field, Mount Dobson Ski Area, Roundhill Ski Area, Ohau Snow Fields and the super secret Awakino Ski Area in the Waitaki Valley.

Southern Lakes The region around winter ski resorts Queenstown and Wanaka offers six diverse ski areas and New Zealand’s biggest winter event, the Queenstown Winter Festival. Downhill, freestyle and cross-country action await at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona Alpine Resort, Treble Cone Ski Area and Snow Farm Ski Area.

Away From the Fields – Heli Skiing

If you’ve mastered the groomed runs of the commercial ski areas and are seeking something more challenging, you may wish to try a heli skiing adventure. Heli skiing is the ultimate way to ski or board New Zealand – and it’s not just for expert skiers and boarders. You simply need to be of intermediate skiing or boarding ability and have a reasonable level of fitness – then jump in a helicopter and fly to untracked slopes that are deep in the mountains and inaccessible by any other means. An expert guide will be on hand to lead you through the experience. Heli skiing operations extend across huge areas of backcountry and can include anything from wide open basins to steep descents and glaciers. Riding on untracked natural snow is very different to the groomed slopes of ski areas. If you’re renting gear, you  may prefer to use fat powder skis – although many heli ski operators will arrange the required equipment. Different options are available for different levels of ability.