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New Zealand offers some of the world’s best skiing, with a huge number of fields in a few stunning areas and epic heli skiing throughout the South Island.
Every local has their favourite, and you could spend a lifetime getting to know everything the nation’s snowsports scene has to offer. If you’re not sure where to start, here are our suggestions.
Mount Ruapehu is home to New Zealand’s two largest ski areas, Whakapapa and Tūroa, and provides a unique chance to ski in a World Heritage Area. Family-friendly Whakapapa is home to New Zealand’s premier beginners’ area, Happy Valley, as well as more than 30 groomed trails that intermediate skiers and boarders love. For the more adventurous, try the black and black diamond runs and the lift-accessible Black Magic backcountry area.
Tūroa offers up Australasia’s longest vertical descent and New Zealand’s highest lift, a great tobogganing area for the kids, and easy access to spectacular backcountry areas and an ever-changing range of natural terrain features to play on.
Lift passes provide access to both ski areas. For best value, pick up a multi-day pass, find some accommodation in Ohakune, National Park or Whakapapa Village, and explore both of these fun and friendly fields.
One of the country’s largest ski fields, the world-class Mt Hutt in Canterbury, is under two hours’ drive from Christchurch and offers an all-round combination of the big mountain experience for skiers and snowboarders and a family-friendly environment. It has 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.
Both Queenstown fields The Remarkables and Coronet Peak have a reputation for all-round good times, and they’ve both been added to the exclusive Mountain Collective, a network 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 and most accessible off-piste skiing anywhere in the country. Even closer to Queenstown (25 minutes’ drive), Coronet Peak has the terrain variety and stunning views to keep both novices and experts happy.
For an un-intimidating initiation to New Zealand’s club fields, head to Mt Lyford, just outside of Hanmer Springs. It has a great learners’ slope, fantastic groomers accessed by two pomas and a T-bar, and some one of the friendliest communities of local skiers anywhere in the country. If you’ve never used the famed and feared nutcrackers before, Mt Lyford’s will ease you in.
For skiing with a unique New Zealand flavour, it’s tough to go past this fantastic club ski field located deep in Arthur’s Pass. Fantastic terrain combines with uncrowded slopes, rolling bowls and steep chutes and a welcoming, chilled-out vibe. The club’s lodge has the Southern Alps' most glorious sundeck, where you can watch the action while drinking the field’s very own specially-brewed craft beer.