13 Slopes to Ski in New Zealand
Love skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing or any and all fun on and off the piste? Check out our great snow hostels located near New Zealand's best slopes.
Our ski fields are a touch unusual in that we don't really have resort towns right in amongst the snow (we'll leave that to our buds at HI Canada). Typically Kiwis will pick their closest town and drive for up to two hours in their quest for fresh powder. You should also ditch all expectation of having to dodge through tree trunks on NZ fields - none of that here!
The New Zealand ski season runs June - October. But book early for your alpine holiday; once the white stuff hits the mountains our beds fill up fast!
Please note: it's highly recommended to carry snow chains at all times in the winter months if travelling from Hanmer Springs and south.
The South Island is an international ski destination with unparalleled scenery and an abundance of ski fields, from the alpine resort town of Queenstown to the geothermal village of Hanmer Springs. Ski fields feature a range of terrain to suit first time snow bunnies and old pros. Gear is easy to hire and readily available.
One laid-back alpine town, three world-class ski resorts! Visit Wanaka and Queenstown for some of New Zealand's most popular pistes. All have gear rental available onsite, or you can hire from the ski shops in town to get ahead of the rush first thing.
Cardrona is a family friendly destination, with the most accessible basin filled with wide, easy runs. This is a commercial field with four lifts and two cafes. There's a half pipe, freestyle runs, and terrain park that'll attract tricksters, and the variation in difficulty levels available throughout the park makes it a good option if you're heading up with a group of mixed skill level.
Snow Farm is located opposite Cardrona. It's more of a cross-country skiing facility, with a number of black diamond trails for those more adventurous at heart. Try snowshoeing here on two different trails. A stop at the Cardrona Hotel before you head back to town is a long-held tradition for either of these fields.
Treble Cone has a large number of runs that are intermediate or advanced, making it a good spot for those who are middle of the road but not experts quite yet. However, those who are experts can head around to the Motatapu Basin for their share of excitement (sadly, chairlift not included for this section!).
In well-known ski resort town Queenstown, Coronet Peak and the Remarkables are the big fish, with Cardrona also accessible a bit further down the road. Again, these are commercial fields so expect conveniences like gear hire and chairlift facilities.
Coronet Peak is a good option for those impatient to get up the hill (or those who prefer a lie in before they hit the peaks) because of it's close proximity to town. Similar to Treble Cone this is a solidly intermediate field, although with four chairlifts, Coronet's facilities are bit more extensive.
The Remarkables Ski Area is better positioned to serve advanced skiers or boarders, but between Curvey Basin and the Sugar Bowl those not quite as confident will still manage to keep themselves entertained. These two fields offer a joint pass in conjunction to Mt Hutt in Canterbury which is a good option for early birds determined to get in a varied season.
Ski Lake Tekapo
Imagine skiing boutique fields with stunning views of Aoraki Mt Cook on the horizon. Roundhill, Mt Dobson and Ohau are smaller and less crowded than their Queenstown or Wanaka-based cousins. You can also try cross country skiing in the mountains above Lake Tekapo.
Ohau Snow Fields, 1 hour from Lake Tekapo, break down their runs at 50% intermediate, 30% advanced. The single chairlift and platter ensure the beginner runs are well served. Spectacular lake views are a definite drawcard.
Mt Dobson features a rental service, lessons, and a cafe; the shuttle from Fairlie is also a handy benefit. Be prepared for some hiking to get the most out of your runs.
Roundhill is great for intermediate to advanced skiers and boarders. While reliant on T-Bars and rope tows for transport, one of these is proclaimed the longest and steepest in the world, which should give the adrenaline junkies something to get excited about! The advanced runs and Central Park freestyle area will keep you well entertained.
Canterbury has more ski fields than anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere. When the snow starts falling on the Canterbury peaks, the snow bunnies start coming out of hibernation.
Mt Hutt ski field has a beginner area and two terrain parks close to main chairlifts, flanked on either side by intermediate and then advanced trails. This has been ranked New Zealand's best ski resort so you should probably see what the fuss is about for yourself.
Temple Basin is a club ski field near Arthur's Pass affiliated with the Canterbury University Snow Sports Club. The trails here are less densely packed than your average, but you should also expect some hiking to get about. Factor in time to walk from the car park to the beginning of the field.
Porters is the closest ski field to Christchurch. Chase the sun or shade on either side of the valley, or stick to the middle of the basin for intermediate and beginner runs. Gear rental is available and the cafe makes a welcome resting point.
Where to Stay
YHA Springfield has you covered with ski rental on site, tuneup room, drying room, internet, great food, Japanese Onsen bath, heaps of movies and books and fully made beds with heaters in the rooms. The hostel offers daily transport to Porters ski field. 30 mins to Porters, 45 mins to Broken River & Craigieburn Valley, 50 mins to Mt Cheesman, 1 hr to Mt Olympus, 1 hr 10 to Mt Hutt, 1 hr 20 to Temple Basin.
Book YHA Springfield
Spend a day skiing or snowboarding in Hanmer Springs and then kick back in the thermal hot springs located a three minute walk from YHA Hanmer Springs. Relaxing inside the hostel after a day in the winter chill is easy with a log fire, underfloor heating, movie hire, large kitchen and open common room. In winter the hostel will keep you nice and warm with extra blankets and extra heating if needed. 1 hr 20 mins to Mt Lyford, 1 hr 30 mins to Hanmer Springs Ski Area.
Book YHA Hanmer Springs
Experience the snow in Arthur's Pass, an alpine village situated on the Main Divide of the Southern Alps. Stay at YHA Arthur’s Pass, a modern, heated suntrap with great views but still with a small hostel feel. The mountain roads from Arthur's Pass to the fields can be icy and unpredictable so are not recommended for daily commutes to/from the mountains. 40 mins to Porters, 50 mins to Broken River & Craigieburn Valley, 1 hr to Mt Olympus & Mt Cheesman, 1 hr 10 mins to Mt Hutt. Temple Basin carpark is 10 mins away, plus 50 mins walk to the field.
Book YHA Arthur's Pass
Carving up the freshies down the side of a volcanic cone is an exercise in unadulterated adrenaline. Welcome to the North Island's Mt Ruapehu, host to not one, but three ski fields!
Ski Mt Ruapehu
Mt Ruapehu is home to the North Island's only two commercial ski areas, Whakapapa and Turoa. Tukino is a third, smaller club area located on the mountain's eastern side. There's no where else in New Zealand where you can ski or snowboard on an active volcano!
Whakapapa and Turoa are both huge, well serviced fields complete with conveniences like cafes and gear rental. They're also operated under the same umbrella, meaning a much greater variety of runs for those looking at season passes.
Turoa is definitively the more advanced of the two, with it's network of 5 chairs spread over a wide area. Towards the northern side of the mountain, 3 chairs and another 4 t-bars service the longer network of largely intermediate trails at Whakapapa. There's an hour's drive between the fields which, if you were really keen, would make it possible to ski both in a single day!
Where to Stay
With magnificent views of the volcanoes right from the doorstep, YHA National Park is well equipped for snow bunnies wanting to carve up the slopes at Mt Ruapehu. The hostel provides a drying room, a tuning bench on demand and plenty of storage for gear. There's a wood fire in the kitchen and ski shops nearby. There are also ensuite family rooms. The hostel offers ski shuttles to Whakapapa ski field daily. 20 mins to Whakapapa, 50 mins to Turoa, 1 hr to Tukino.
Book YHA National Park
Sit back and relax at YHA Taupo or hop in your car and head for the slopes at Mt Ruapehu. You'll need your own car to get from Taupo to these fields, or you can drive to Ohakune and hop on one of the shuttles travelling up the mountain daily. Staff can organise storage for your snow gear if needed. 1 hr 30 mins to Tukino, 2 hours to Whakapapa and Turoa.
Book YHA Taupo
One of Springfield's oldest homes, this backpacker hostel has charm and history as well as quality accommodation options and added extras like home-cooked meals available.
YHA National Park
A backpacker hostel for the volcano fanatics, YHA National Park is an ideal hub to explore the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing as well as skiing Mt Ruapehu.
YHA Hanmer Springs
Sitting adjacent to the town's main attraction, the hot springs, YHA Hanmer Springs is a modern backpacker hostel with all the home comforts you might need.
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