Which New Zealand ski area to choose? Where to get weather information? How much will it cost? It’s always handy to know certain things before hitting the slopes. Get prepped for New Zealand’s ski season and check out fast facts on snowboarding and skiing New Zealand.
Club Ski Areas
You don’t have to be a member to ski on a New Zealand club ski area – anyone is welcome! The main drawcard of club ski areas is the price. For an adult lift pass you typically pay at least NZ$20 less than for an adult lift pass on a commercial ski area.
Club ski areas are run by club members rather than by a company, and slopes are less crowded. Club fields are smaller but offer a more social atmosphere and conditions are still varied and exciting. However, facilities are basic. Although most NZ club ski areas have day lodges, T-bar lifts or rope tows, they might not have snow grooming.
Most club ski areas provide on-mountain ski accommodation, saving you travelling up the mountain on a daily basis. Ski accommodation ranges from budget accommodation with casual restaurants to backcountry huts with outdoor hot tubs to ski lodges.
New Zealand Maps
New Zealand is a good-value destination for a snowboard or ski holiday, especially if you’re travelling to New Zealand from the US, Australia or Europe. Expect to pay around NZ$15 to $45 for your après-ski main meal, NZ$24 to $60 per day for full snowboard/ski hire and an average of NZ$30 per day for full ski clothing hire on the mountain. A night’s accommodation starts at around NZ$15 for a dorm bed in a hostel and rises to NZ$300 (or more for the ultimate deluxe accommodation!). In terms of lift passes, a one-day adult lift pass costs around NZ$70 to $100 at a commercial ski area or around NZ$40 to $70 at a club field.
Qualmark, New Zealand tourism’s official mark of quality, is awarded to New Zealand accommodation and transport providers and NZ activity operators. Establishments carrying the Qualmark logo have been assessed as trustworthy and professional, and all types of accommodation are rated on a star grading system telling you exactly what to expect.
New Zealand Ski Season
The New Zealand ski season usually runs from June to October, which means that you can hit New Zealand’s ski areas when the snow in America and Europe is long melted. Spring (September till November) is a good time to make your trip – a good base of snow combined with warmer air temperatures make for awesome spring skiing.
Travelling in New Zealand
New Zealand’s temperate climate means that you can enjoy a myriad of NZ outdoor activities off the mountains even during peak ski season. If you feel like a day off from skiing, the snowy peaks of New Zealand’s mountains provide a great backdrop for water activities or golfing in the winter sun. Check out the regional pages for detailed information about the activities and attractions on offer.
Before heading out to the mountains, you should always check the weather. You can find detailed weather reports on New Zealand ski areas and mountains on www.metservice.com. Mouse over the ‘Mountains & National Parks – Ski Fields’ link and click on the relevant ski field for daily weather reports during the NZ ski season.
Another option for getting your ski weather updates is Metservice’s Snow Weather App – you can download this for your mobile device here.
If you’re not hooked up to the internet you can also call MetPhone Mountain & Ski Info. AA highway reports and the latest MetService New Zealand mountain forecasts are available daily from 7am. The MetPhone Mountain & Ski numbers to call are:
0900 999 24 – Brief Mountain (National)
0900 999 15 – Central North Island
0900 999 02 – Nelson Lakes
0900 999 26 – Canterbury Region
0900 999 81 – Southern Lakes
To call fire, police or ambulance services in an emergency, dial 111.
Ski Runs Colour Coding
New Zealand ski runs are graded according to difficulty and marked with the colours green, blue and black. Check out what the different colours stand for:
GREEN = Easy. Green ski runs are usually groomed and wide and not too steep.
BLUE = Intermediate. The bulk of runs in a ski area are normally blue, and they’re usually the busiest pistes.
BLACK = Advanced. Black ski runs are amongst the most difficult on a mountain and pretty steep.
DOUBLE BLACK = Experts only! Double black ski runs are exceptionally steep and have obstacles such as trees or drop-offs.
Whether you need information on New Zealand’s mountains or general travel information, the i-SITE Visitor Information Centres, which you’ll find all around the country, are there to help. This extensive visitor information network offers free local knowledge and can help you with reservations. For a list of New Zealand i-SITEs (and a printable map) visit www.i-site.org.
New Zealand Snow Sports Organisations
Thinking of becoming a ski instructor? Interested in mountain safety courses? Looking for more information on professional snow sports in New Zealand? Here’s a list of great snow sports organisations:
Backcountry Avalanche Advisory www.avalanche.net.nz Reports and news on safety in the backcountry and avalanche dangers.
Disabled Snowsports New Zealand www.disabledsnowsports.org.nz Supports people with disabilities, helping them to enjoy and compete on New Zealand’s slopes.
Snowsports Association www.snowsports.co.nz The FIS (International Ski Federation) and New Zealand Olympic Committee-recognised national sporting organisation that represents the interests of adaptive snowsports, alpine ski racing, cross country skiing, freeskiing and snowboarding in the country.
New Zealand Mountain Guides Association www.nzmga.org.nz Provides training to International Federation of Mountain Guides (IFMGA) standards in New Zealand.
New Zealand Mountain Safety Council www.mountainsafety.org.nz Enhancing safety in New Zealand outdoor adventure activities.
New Zealand Snowsports Instructors Alliance www.nzsia.org Training and certifying ski and snowboard instructors since 1971.