Methven Heliski / Kevin Boekholt

Skiing in New Zealand: Your 2020 Guide

Looking for the inside scoop/latest slope action on New Zealand ski fields? What’s Hot NZ has done the hard yards to compile the ultimate guide to skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand this year.

We are pumped that the 2020 ski season is up and running! Many were expecting low numbers because of the lack of international visitors, but Kiwi skiers and snowboarders have been hitting the mountains in droves all around the country, creating amazing atmospheres on all of our open fields, big and small.

So far it’s been a warmer season than usual, and some fields are waiting for a bit more snow before they get going. Before planning your trip, check the websites or Facebook pages of the fields you’re intending to go to. While the extensive snowmaking facilities of the bigger fields guarantee more consistent conditions, some of the best runs in the country are to be had at clubfields like Roundhill and Mt Dobson.

This might be the year to splash out on a special trip: there are a range of heli ski operators who will happily take you into the mountains for the ride of a lifetime. Think needlepoint peaks, untouched slopes, and all the fresh turns your legs can handle. Most of them are offering special 2020 deals that we might never see again. It’s not just for experts – the heli ski operators can tailor their service to your skill level, and Ski the Tasman runs tours on the longest green run in the country: the Tasman Glacier.

Back on solid ground, there are a few changes to be aware of this year. The Remarkables, one of the two fields in Queenstown, is only opening on weekends, apart from during school holidays. If you’re looking to spend weekdays in Queenstown, Coronet Peak is open all week, as are Cardrona, Snow Farm and Treble Cone.

If this is your first year diving into New Zealand snowsports, you’ll notice that many (although not all) ski areas don’t have accommodation on the field itself. This means you’ll typically be driving up the mountain each day – or catching a shuttle bus. It may not be what you’re used to, but it means you can ski a different mountain each day if you like, enjoy a more natural mountain environment – and when you get off the mountain, you have all the restaurants and bars of a buzzing winter resort to choose from. You’ll also be able to mix up your skiing or boarding with other activities; depending on which fields you decide to visit, you’ll also be handy to everything from wine tasting to whale watching, bungy jumping or even surfing.

 

Where to Ski in NZ

The variety of skiing and snowboarding packed into New Zealand is unbelievable. Whether you spend your days skiing or boarding a world-class mountain resort, hitting world-class terrain parks or hiking through the forest to an amazing club field (not just for members – anyone is welcome!), you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Broken River Ski Area [Canterbury] Wide slopes, rolling bowls and steep chutes alongside a terrain park offer great skiing and riding. The backcountry run down Allan’s Basin ending in the car park is the ultimate finish to your day.

Cardrona Alpine Resort [Southern Lakes] Cardrona Alpine Resort is an incredible playground for freestylers. Slope facilities include terrain parks, a gravity-cross course, half-pipes and wide-open groomed trails.

Coronet Peak [Southern Lakes] Night skiing and First Tracks at Coronet Peak ensure the field has long daily operating hours. Snowboarders relish the natural features, while skiers love the rolling terrain and gullies.

Craigieburn Valley [Canterbury] This off-piste alpine playground offers steep narrow chutes, wide open powder bowls and uncrowded runs for intermediate and advanced, plus a ‘suicidal’-rated triple black diamond descent!

Fox Peak Ski Area [Mackenzie] Big, wide-open faces and fabulous hidden basins, plus a park for beginners. Over half of Fox Peak consists of long, adventurous blue runs and you’ll also find a cosy 40-bed backpacker lodge.

Hanmer Springs Ski Area [Canterbury] Club ski area with learners’ slopes and off-piste challenges. Snowboarders find natural and groomed pipe riding and there is on-field backpacker accommodation as well as ski and snowboard hire.

Manganui Ski Area [Taranaki] Taranaki’s only ski area has two natural half-pipes offering great snowboarding and awesome terrain for beginner and intermediate skiers. Head down after a day’s boarding and go surfing!

Mt Cheeseman [Canterbury] The closest club ski area to Christchurch has great park features and extensive backcountry skiing. Mt Cockayne offers challenging off-piste and stunning views of the Craigieburn Range.

Mt Dobson Ski Area [Mackenzie] Famous for all-day sunshine, Mount Dobson also has a large learner and intermediate area, advanced runs with miles of untracked powder, and a natural half-pipe.

Mt Hutt [Canterbury] Long runs in a mix of terrain, a well-developed trail network, five terrain parks, a range of black runs, steep chutes and excellent facilities.

Mt Lyford [Canterbury] The Wild Ride Terrain Park, suitable for all abilities, plus advanced skiing in the Terako Basin make for great snow days. Stay the night in a rustic log chalet with hot tubs at the bottom of the mountain.

Mt Olympus [Canterbury] Mount Olympus has chutes, steeps and open faces plus a huge natural terrain park. The on-mountain lodge (with a chef, a hot tub overlooking the slopes, and a dress-up box) adds to the social atmosphere.

Ohau Snow Fields [Mackenzie] Home to the famous Ohau Snowball event, Ohau features a snow mat for learners and exciting terrain in superb powder areas for intermediates/advanced. Awesome off-piste bowls and chutes and incredible views.

Porters [Canterbury] Porters has an excellent snow sports school and learners area. Advanced riders love the legendary Bluff Face and Big Mama runs.

Rainbow Ski Area [Nelson] Wide, uncrowded slopes, groomed trails, a terrain park and high-powder runs and chutes provide superb terrain for all levels. Spectacular views across Lake Rotoiti and Nelson Lakes National Park.

Roundhill Ski Area [Mackenzie] Smooth, wide trails for beginners and intermediates, and advanced terrain for experts. The Central Park features rails, boxes and jumps. Park in the sun on the slopes and bring your BBQ.

Snow Farm Ski Area [Southern Lakes] First-class cross-country skiing (day and night) on more than 50 kilometres of groomed trails. Also tubing, sledding, snowshoeing and two backcountry huts for overnight trips.

Temple Basin [Canterbury] Temple Basin, in the heart of Arthur’s Pass National Park, is accessible by a 50-minute scenic walk. Floodlit night-skiing, a huge natural terrain park and modern lodges just metres from the lifts.

The Remarkables [Southern Lakes] Fun, families and freestyle. Catering for learners and intermediates, The Remarkables offers awesome backcountry trails and three terrain parks including The Stash Burton Park.

Treble Cone Ski Area [Southern Lakes] The South Island’s largest ski area offers slopes for all abilities; from beginners’ slopes and wide groomed trails through to free-riding terrain.

Tukino Ski Field [Central North Island] Uncrowded club ski field nestled on Mount Ruapehu and sheltered from wind. Snowboarders, alpine climbers and skiers all flock here. On-field accommodation available.

Turoa Ski Area [Central North Island] New Zealand’s highest ski area has three main off-piste areas and a four-kilometre run plus three all-level terrain parks. Skiers love Turoa’s snow-filled bowls and steep chutes.

Whakapapa Ski Area [Central North Island] New Zealand’s largest ski area has 35 groomed trails, off-piste terrain for intermediates and advanced, and tobogganing and tubing.