Geologically speaking, New Zealand has some of the world’s newest peaks and valleys, a decidedly ski-oriented national culture, and a ridiculously long season. So how can you not be awed by their snow fields?
To top it all off, it’s just a few hours flight from Australia!
So the only question for skiers looking a the perfect ski holiday is, “which particular resort should I go to and when?”
With so much choice, it’s hard to know exactly where and when you should go, so we’ve created this comprehensive guide to get you started.
There are 25 New Zealand ski fields to choose from, mostly on the South Island. We’ve handpicked five of our favourites below.
Best For couples Looking For Romance And Adventure
Queenstown is perfect if you’re looking for romance and fun. It’s vibrant, beautiful, and you can try a bunch of activities such as bungy jumping, white water rafting or canyon swinging.
One of the best places to ski in Queenstown is The Remarkables, an aptly named mountain range. Gorgeous views abound, and the small ski field is suited to various skill levels, especially if going off-piste.
If you want more adrenaline, Coronet Peak is only 20 minutes from downtown Queenstown. Queenstown is also great for apŕes ski, with no shortage of bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
If you want to up the ante on romance, try Queenstown's very own Onsen hot spas at Arthur's Pass, where you can enjoy a hot spa for two by candlelight. Or take a winery tour around the Central Otago region, which is world famous for its pinot noir.
Best For Adventours Seniors/Experienced Skiers
Beautiful Wanaka offers multiple ski fields. There’s something for everyone, but adventurous seniors are in for a real treat.
Most New Zealand ski resorts don't offer on- mountain lodging, but Cardrona is an exception. Accommodation is very close to the lifts, and this makes Cardrona one of New Zealand’s more accessible ski-fields.
It’s an ideal choice if you’d rather not lug your ski gear up and down the mountain. Experienced skiers should head straight to Treble Cone, but if you're an intermediate to advanced skier and you've always wanted to try heli-skiing, Cardrona offers that opportunity too.
If you'd rather do some cross-country skiing, then make your way to Snow Farm, using the Snow Farm Lodge or backcountry huts as your base. And if you get tired, you can sit back and let the husky dogs do the work.
For something altogether less strenuous there’s nothing quite like hitting the wine region around Wanaka.
Best For Families On A Budget
The long and winding road to Mt Hutt takes you to a resort with a different feel from its glitzier counterparts. This ski field is pared back and easier on the purse-strings, but it still delivers on all important points.
You'll find enough steep terrain here to keep experts satisfied, but you don't have to be a daredevil to enjoy this ski field, with dedicated beginner areas, and a surface lift.
There are also lessons for adults with qualified instructors, and a wide range of kids programs catering to ages from 3 months to 17 years, and even the opportunity to learn as a family.
Even better, there are free day-lift passes for children aged 10 years and under.
A range of businesses in Methven Village, only a 35 minute drive away, are part of the Kids 4 Free campaign, which means you can also find great savings on airport transfers, accommodation, restaurants, ski hire, and a couple of local attractions.
The weather is changeable on Mt Hutt, so you run the risk of the mountain being shut at times, but that's an opportunity to explore smaller fields further down the hill that aren't likely to be as affected by high winds.
Best For Solo Travellers Looking For A Friendly Vibe
There’s a warm and friendly vibe at this community-owned club ski field (one of six "Clubbies" in the area). Here you can find laid-back, affordable, fine-grained skiing and snowboarding - with an unpretentious vibe.
There’s a sense of whimsical fun at this resort, with events like The Undie 500, where you can entertain - or be entertained. The resort has T-bar lifts (easier to use for the less experienced than the rope tows used at other club ski resorts) and there are plenty of runs for beginners to enjoy.
Those looking for a challenge can take the Ridge T-Bar lift to access off-piste runs, or hike over to Tarn Basin for some backcountry skiing.
You can bunk with other people and meet new friends at Snowline Lodge or at Forest Lodge. Staying at these lodgings means you’ll have to do some light chores, but it’s unpretentious and fun experience.
Best for families with young children
Mt Ruapehu is the largest active volcano in New Zealand and sits within a world heritage national parks. The three ski fields on this massive mountain span 1000 hectares of terrain.
Whakapapa has its own "beginners' playground" called Happy Valley, where everyone can take lessons, practice, and go sledding — perfect for nervous kids and adults alike.
Treble Cone is a snowboarders' paradise. It’s got natural undulations and heaps of powdery snow (sometimes double what other resorts get). It’s not recommended for beginners, but an advanced snowboarder will enjoy the highest proportion of black runs in the South Island.
A favourite of Kiwis and international skiers, Craigieburn is known for great value skiing. There are steep mountains, lots of snow, and a high percentage of free-riding slopes. However, the challenging terrain means it’s unsuitable for beginners. There’s also no ski rental… a sure sign it’s for serious powder-hounds.
If you’re in the North Island, these two ski fields in Mount Ruapehu are ideal for all levels of snowboarders. There’s a self-contained learner’s area, which makes it pleasant for both beginners and advanced snowboarders - and with no trees and long runs, everyone can enjoy free-riding fun.
The New Zealand ski season is between mid-June and mid-October, but can occasionally run in to November.
Short lift queues and some fields have a snow machine that'll cover what Mother Nature doesn't.
This time suits those with school-aged kids, but might not be so good for those who don’t.
This is when the snow fields shine with deep snow bases and regular snowfall.
Longer days, warmer temps, and forgiving snow for beginners (also known as hero snow).
Helmets haven’t been made mandatory in New Zealand and there’s a lot of controversy around them. But, given that head injuries are a common ski injury, you might consider protecting your most valuable asset.
Large snow dumps followed by a sudden warm snap can pose a risk of falling snow. For example, slabs of ice can fall from rooftops and hit unsuspecting people below, causing serious injury.
The UV rays in New Zealand are strong, and the sun can be especially strong at high altitudes. Additionally, you burn almost twice as fast on dry, light snow as you do on wet, heavy snow. SPF 50+ is your friend.
Ideally, prepare for your trip by starting your pre-ski fitness regime around six to eight weeks before you head off on holiday. Even light skiing uses muscles you might never even realised you had. With some light weights, yoga or pilates, you could avoid serious injury.
The reciprocal health care agreement (RHCA) lets Medicare card-holding Australians access limited medical services. This means Medicare-eligible Australians in New Zealand are covered for in-patient public hospital treatments and accommodation. But the RHCA won't cover any prescription medicines/supplies, or any other medical treatments you require, including any hospital outpatient treatments and all private hospital services. The RHCA doesn't cover emergency evacuation and repatriation costs either. New Zealand has many isolated areas, and if you're injured or sick, you might need emergency evacuation to a major hospital.
If you purchase a Winter Sports Pack, tobogganing is covered as a ‘winter sports activity.’ However, it won’t be covered if tobogganing is banned at the resort you’re staying at.
Being intoxicated is a general exclusion under the 1Cover policy wording and you will not be covered. Our policy states that any claim arising from being intoxicated, addicted or under the influence of liquor or drugs, except those prescribed by a medical adviser, will not be covered.