The 24 Ski Fields in New Zealand
Where to ski, snowboard, telemark and cross country ski in New Zealand.
As such an outdoorsy country, it comes as no surprise that Kiwis grab the mountains by the throat and say: “I’m going to ski the crap out of you this winter!”
Who can blame New Zealand when there is such an diverse range of ski fields across the country? In the North Island, you can ski down an active volcano, while the middle of the South Island has more alpine parrots hitting the slopes than people. Only in New Zealand! Not to mention the ski culture, with club fields that thrive off the atmosphere. By the end of your New Zealand ski experience, you’ll appreciate all the great things about old school skiing and snowboarding – a raw mountain experience.
Whether you’re looking to work a ski season in New Zealand, or just want for something fun to do during the winter, take a look at our list of every ski field in New Zealand, listing from north to south.
The largest ski field in New Zealand offers heaps of riding potential. Situated on the northern slopes of Mt Ruapehu, an active volcano, it sees the sun before its sister ski field, Turoa, softening the snow up after those icy nights. While the lower mountain and beginners areas are serviced by chairlifts, albeit outdated ones, the upper mountain is T-bar central. There’s decent backcountry to explore, including the popular hike to the Crater Lake. Plus, there’s no view quite like the one of Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom).
Whakapapa Website. Location: Mt Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, North Island
The sunniest of the Mt Ruapehu ski areas, Tukino is a club field open to the public. It is the more affordable option on the volcano with the two nutcracker rope tows and cat skiing (pay per cat ride). As a less crowded ski area, you are laughing on a fresh powder day!
Tukino Website. Location: Mt Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, North Island
Straight from the forest drive up to Turoa, you know that this ski field offers a completely different experience than the other Ruapehu ski areas. On the southwestern slopes of Mt Ruapehu, Turoa is well serviced by chairlifts, including the six-seater Highnoon Express, which gives you a nice long descent of 722 metres. After a good storm, Turoa’s upper mountain becomes a powder playground where you can go pretty much anywhere! Park warriors will find some of the best features in the North Island here, while keen hikers can take the ascent to the Crater Lake.
Turoa Website. Location: Mt Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, North Island
Describing itself as a “no-frills ski area”, Manganui is a club field on the slopes of Mt Taranaki. The lack of “frills” starts with the hike to the base while you say goodbye to your gear on the equipment-only lift. Two rope tows and a T-bar get you up the hill, a hill which is dominated by snowboarders, who are likely the local surfers living in Stratford (25 minutes away) and New Plymouth (50 minutes away). Conditions vary and can be inconsistent during the winter season, as the ski area purely relies on mother nature. However, catch Manganui on a good day and you’ll be grateful for the on-mountain accommodation to rest your worked legs!
Manganui Website. Location: Mt Taranaki, Egmont National Park, North Island
On the Saint Arnaud Range and the most northern of the South Island ski offerings, Rainbow is a small commercial field complete with groomers, snowmaking, ski school and rentals. With a dedicated Rainbow Community Park, it’s a great place to hit the rails, kickers and… tractor tyre. Classic Kiwi! There’s a lot of room to manoeuvre on the wide intermediate runs. Access to the West Bowl offers a snowy solitude you wouldn’t believe is part of the same ski area.
Rainbow Website. Location: St Arnaud, Nelson Lakes National Park, South Island
6. Mt Lyford
The closest ski field to Kaikoura, Mt Lyford Ski Area offers vertical fun on the slopes on Lyford’s Face and Mt Terako. A T-bar, two poma tows, a fixed grip and rope tow take you around the mountain to give you varied advanced and intermediate terrain, as well as terrain park features. The highest point is Mt Terako’s summit, with awesome views all the way to the ocean. The 180 hectare ski field also has gear hire and lessons.
Mt Lyford Website. Location: Lyford, Canterbury, South Island
7. Hanmer Springs
The thermal pool resort town has its very own club field on Mt Saint Patrick. Hanmer Springs Ski Area has more services than your average New Zealand club field, with lessons and gear hire on the mountain. Although there are limited beginner and intermediate groomed runs, there’s good terrain to be found off piste in this 52-hectare area. After a day of hitting the slopes, there’s backpacker-style accommodation on the hill to relax in or Hanmer Springs thermal pools are just 17km away.
Hanmer Springs Website. Location: Hanmer Springs, Canterbury, South Island
8. Temple Basin
This is where it starts to get a bit more challenging down in the South Island. Advanced and expert skiers and riders can face steep and “big mountain” terrain, even more so if hiking up Mt Temple. Of course, beginners and those who like to play it safe have plenty of beginner and intermediate runs accessible from three rope tows, although no grooming, so you’ll get that off-piste experience from the get go. Whatever level you are at, you will have to hike for 50 minutes from the car park to get to the Temple Basin Ski Area. You can chuck your skis/boards onto the goods lift. That’s almost worth it to stay on their on-hill backpacker-style accommodation for the night!
Temple Basin Website. Location: Arthur’s Pass Village, Arthur’s Pass National Park, South Island
Feel the burn! Craigieburn is New Zealand’s ultimate backcountry experience (for those on a budget). Some of the high mountain terrain feels like something you’d get from a heliski trip, except its just a few rope tows, traversing and a hike away. Nonetheless, there are still some beginner terrain to practice those turns, but you’ll have to learn quick to make the most of this area. Another notesworthy feature of Craigieburn is that the accommodation is nestled in trees. Plus, there’s a bit of tree skiing to be had – just a bit.
Craigieburn Website. Location: Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury, South Island
10. Broken River
A sheltered basin in the Craigieburn Mountain Range, Broken River experiences a lot of open days while still getting its fair share of the white stuff. The club field terrain is more suited to experienced skiers, boarders and telemarkers, with the Broken River holding some blue runs and the Allen’s Basin holding the gnarly backcountry runs. After a drive up the mountain, you’ll then take the alpine rail through the forest to get to the accommodation and ticket office. Depending on weather conditions, Broken River sometimes hosts night skiing.
Broken River Website. Location: Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury, South Island
11. Mt Cheeseman
Also hanging out in the Craigieburn Range, Mt Cheeseman can be accessed just before the Broken River Ski Field turn off. The Main T-bar takes you to groomed beginner and intermediate runs, making Mt Cheeseman a great place to practice your technique. Once you’re feeling confident enough, take the Ridge T-bar to the top of the ski area for more of an off-piste experience on intermediate and advanced terrain. There are three mountain lodges to wind down in at the end of the day. The club field also has gear hire and lessons.
Mt Cheeseman Website. Location: Castle Hill, Canterbury, South Island
12. Mt Olympus
Sitting in a south-facing basin in the Craigieburn Range, the Mt Olympus Ski Area is famous for gathering the powder – an average snow depth of 4.5 metres. Advanced and intermediate skiers and riders have a whole host of ungroomed terrain to enjoy, while there is still a small beginners area to dump the learners in. Explore more of the mountain by taking short hikes from the top of the nutcracker tow lifts. Popular hikes are to Ardi’s Peak, Little Alaska, the Back Ridge and the Sphinx.
Mt Olympus Website. Location: Craigieburn Range, Canterbury, South Island
The last ski field in the Christchurch area (or the first, however you want to look at it), Porters is close to the settlements of Springfield and Castle Hill. The commercial field covers about 250 hectares of skiable terrain, and actually has a chairlift! Crazy! Because it’s the closest ski field to Christchurch, Porters is one of the livelier ski fields in Canterbury. Nonetheless, enthusiasts can escape the crowds with three T-bar rides up to the top and traverse to some gnarlier runs to get the blood pumping. Other facilities include a cafe, shop, gear hire, lessons, grooming, snowmaking and community terrain park.
Porters Website. Location: Springfield, Canterbury, South Island
14. Mt Hutt
Rising to 2190 metres and isolated in the Canterbury Plains, Mt Hutt provides 365 hectares of skiing goodness! As the large commercial ski field of Canterbury, it has all the key facilities, including a six seater chair lift taking people from the base all the way to the top of the ski field – ideal if you are wanting to rake up the vertical metres. Each edge of the ski field has black runs to try out while intermediate and beginners gather in the middle of the area. You’re also spoilt fore choice with the four terrain parks. It’s worth taking a bit of a hike to the summit for views of the Canterbury Plains and the ocean beyond.
Mt Hutt Website. Location: Methven, Canterbury, South Island
15. Fox Peak
Back to the New Zealand club fields, Fox Peak is on the Two Thumb Range between Christchurch and Queenstown. The ski field has some groomed terrain with four rope tows and a poma tow, all situated in the North Basin, but giving access also to the ungroomed South Basin – that’s a huge area of 500 hectares. Don’t miss the opportunity to climb 3-4 hours to the top of Fox Peak for a feeling of “bossing” the ski field. With the right equipment and determination, it is even possible to traverse to Roundhill (see below).
Fox Peak Website. Location: Fairlie, Canterbury, South Island
With views of the super blue Lake Tekapo, Aoraki Mt Cook and the surrounding Southern Alps, Rounhill Ski Area is a pretty special place to ski/board in. There is an extensive beginners’ area with a poma tow and two rope tows. When you’re ready to move on, there’s the wide intermediate trails and two T-bars to master, which will get you feeling like you’re awesome in no time. Then for those with no fear, take on the world’s longest and steepest rope tow up “The Wall”. It gives you access to the Australasia’s biggest vertical drop at 783 metres. Roundhill has all the facilities expected of a commercial field, including the impressive Central Park.
Roundhill Website. Location: Lake Tekapo, Canterbury, South Island
17. Mt Dobson
Just below Roundhill Ski Area is Mt Dobson. Again, this ski field in the Tekapo area is a great place to learn with wide runs and lots of room to manoeuvre. A traverse from the top of the chairlift or T-bar will take you to some awesome advanced terrain, before getting back the groomed runs again. Although Mt Dobson is a club field, it does have the feel of a commercial one, with services like gear hire, cafe and lessons.
Mt Dobson Website. Location: Lake Tekapo, Canterbury, South Island
Ohau, or Ohau Snow Fields, just to sound politically correct from saying “ski field”, is on the border of Canterbury and Otago. The family-run commercial field is nestled between Ohau Range and the Ben Ohau, with 165 hectares of terrain to be had from the top of the chairlift, or more if you’re willing to take the hike to the top of Mt Sutton. A poma tow and magic carpet are also servicing the slopes, which are mostly beginner to intermediate terrain, although there are a few drops and traverses to be had for keen advanced skiers/riders. Gear hire, lessons, snowmaking, cafe, and two terrain parks add to this snow field overlooking Lake Ohau.
Ohau Website. Location: MacKenzie High Country, Canterbury, South Island
This small club-field may have to contend with all the famous ski fields in the Otago region, but as a best-kept secret, that means there are far less crowds and much more untouched snow! It is tucked, north-facing in the St Marys Range where it sees plenty of sun. As well as bunk accommodation, the field has three tows leading to high black runs. Intermediate runs are lower on the mountain. As a club-operated field, Awakino is only open weekends unless it is amazing weather and with snow conditions that simply cannot be ignored.
20. Treble Cone
The largest ski field on the South Island is in close proximity to the town of Wanaka. Only a six seater express lift, quadlift, poma tow and magic carpet service this huge area of 550 hectares. There are long cruisy runs to practice technique, while adventurous types will be served in the Saddle Basin and Summit slopes. Treble Cone is definitely one of the ski fields in New Zealand to get lots of vertical metres in while moving onto advanced and technical stuff. Of course, the commercial field has all the facilities expected, with an added bonus of the Lake Wanaka views, best seen from the Raffles Run.
Treble Cone Website. Location: Wanka, Otago, South Island
Big features means big fun! Cardrona holds a huge park with some of the most insane rails, boxes, kickers, and halfpipes in New Zealand. If you are all about the park, then Cardrona is for you. For those who prefer the relaxing ski or ride, there’s long runs even for beginners to enjoy. Then a whole other world is opened up on the other side of the mountain, as you traverse to a wide intermediate area. The advanced runs can be found somewhere inbetween with a few chutes to power down. Expect all the large commercial ski field facilities, plus on-hill accommodation.
Cardrona Website. Location: Wanaka, Otago, South Island
22. Snow Farm
Unlike any other ski field in New Zealand, Snow Farm is a cross country skiing and snowshoeing field providing 55km of super scenic trails. There are wide groomed tracks that are ideal for all abilities, giving you the opportunity to climb, traverse and descend through the Pisa Range, accessed from the Cardrona Valley. If anything, it’s a great workout and a cool way to experience the snow in a different way here in New Zealand. Make a night of it by staying in the isolated back country huts. Snow Farm has rentals and lessons.
Snow Farm Website. Location: Wanaka, Otago, South Island
23. Coronet Peak
This very high sheep field turned ski field towering above Queenstown is usually the first to open in the area. What sets it apart from the rest is the night skiing every Friday and Saturday. Three chairlifts and one T-bar take you to many winding runs. The best approach is to never have a plan of what run you are going to do. Sometimes you’ll do the same thing over and over again, whereas other times you might discover an awesome place you can never find again! It’s all about raking in the vertical metres on the groomed trails at Coronet Peak. Again, Coronet Peak has all the services of a commercial field with a few terrain park features to try out too.
Coronet Peak Website. Location: Queenstown, Otago, South Island
24. The Remarkables
It’s hard to ignore the majestic Remarkables Mountain Range from Queenstown. After taking a steep and windy road, you’ll find there’s quite the majestic ski field hidden out of sight from the town. The Remarkables has a fair dose of everything: beginner area, intermediate runs serviced by a six seater express lift, slightly more steeper intermediate runs serviced by three quad lifts, and some backcountry areas giving that “big mountain” feel. Not to mention, the variety of park features catered to all abilities, including The Stash made up of features made with natural materials. This is a ski field ever upgrading with new facilities and buildings, so expect a more contemporary ski field experience than what you might be used to in the rest of New Zealand.
The Remarkables Website. Location: Queenstown, Otago, South Island
Most Popular Videos
Why renting a car in New Zealand is freaking awesome! Every trip [...]
How to boss a Rainy Day in Westport! Don’t let the rain [...]
Things you need to know before buying travel medical insurance. Having proper […]