It’s never too early to plan the gang’s next winter move! You need time to research, decide, book and figure out the ins and outs of your chosen destination. If you are after an easy and laid-back winter holiday, then New Zealand should climb –or ski- to the top of your list!
New Zealand boasts fantastic alpine regions –especially in the South Island- packed with ski resorts for the whole crew. Though it may not be the ski mecca Japan is, it offers some of the best spots for keen skiers to slither in the Southern Hemisphere!
In this one-stop guide, we ‘slide’ you through all the juicy intel you need to plan a perfect snowy getaway!
New Zealand’s winter season kicks off mid-June and wraps up around early October. The best months to hit the slopes are August and early September -though this may vary according to the snow levels at the time!
As not every winter is the same, season dates may change slightly. Oftentimes, despite the ski resorts being open, some trails may still be closed due to lack of snow. But don’t be disheartened by this! Skiing in New Zealand is an amazing experience, it only requires a bit of further research –which is why we created this guide for y’all!
New Zealand’s South Island comprises the vast majority of the ski fields! That said, the North Island has its magic as you and the kiddos can experience skiing down an active volcano or the country’s longest vertical drop!
As in the South Island lie the Southern Alps –a mountain range running along the west-, the most popular ski resorts amongst tourists and locals can be found here!
If in doubt, we’d recommend heading south as you’ll get a wide variety of options for the whole family.
In Whakapapa you get the ‘once in a lifetime’ experience of skiing down an active volcano! The ski field located in the north-eastern slopes of Mt Ruapehu -Tongariro National Park- is the biggest ski area in the whole country. Plus, there’s an area specially designed for beginners and little tykes just getting started, Happy Valley.
If you feel like hanging out with the pros and make your way down New Zealand’s steepest slope featuring a 722-meter descent, then Turoa –facing Ruapehu’s South West- is for you!
You can access both areas with the same lift pass –multi-day and season passes are also available!
The season starts in June and finishes by the end of October!
Adrenaline-seeking families can’t miss out on Queenstown! If what you are looking for is a top winter vacation with astounding vistas, a lively town with a great après ski scene and well-developed ski resorts, then Queenstown is the answer to your winter prayers!
The great thing about ‘QT’ is that you can choose between a variety of resorts, plus the city and its surroundings are packed with activities for outdoorsy –and even extreme- crews! If you don’t enjoy crowds that much, book your accommodation in Wanaka, known as ‘QT’s li’l sister’.
The main ski fields around Queenstown and Wanaka are Coronet Peak, Cardrona Ski Resort, Treble Cone and the famous The Remarkables. All 4 offer a range of options and snow areas for the little munchkins, from a fully-equipped child daycare facility –Cardrona- to family packages –The Remarkables- and free passes for the little ones –at Coronet Peak kiddies under 5 ski for free!
Powder-heads willing to take the whole experience to the next level can join a heliskiing trip departing from Queenstown!
If you are looking for an alternative to Queenstown and Wanaka, then the Canterbury region has you covered!
Mt Hutt’s fame precedes its long runs and slopes cloaked by never-ending snow! This locals’ and tourists’ alike favorite winter spot has been crowned for 4 years in a row as New Zealand’s Best Ski Resort– granted by the Annual World Ski Awards. Just a 90-minute drive from Christchurch, it’s the ideal place for budget-minded families that may find costs of food and accommodation in QT a bit too much! Methven, the nearest town, also offers a wide range of facilities catering to the whole family!
Though there are other family-friendly ski resorts a 90-minute drive from Christchurch, they are not as developed! If you are keen to go on an adventure and enjoy a day with fewer crowds, head to Porters and Mt Cheeseman. At both, kids under 10 can ski for free! Porter’s Ski Field does have a chair lift but Mt Cheeseman’s runs are all connected by T-Bar lifts –this may be something you’d want to consider when deciding on where to go!
Ski Resorts in New Zealand are super family-friendly offering enough lessons, packages, and activities to keep the winter-crew entertained! Whether you are planning a full-on ski trip or if skiing is just one extra activity you’ll get down to during your holiday, options are quite varied!
For longer trips, you can easily purchase the ‘3 Peak Pass’ which allows unlimited rides at Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, and Mt Hutt. If you know you’ll be focusing just in one area, then simply pick a spot and have it your way!
All the ski fields offer Day Passes and in some kids under 10 can ski-as-they-please for free. It’s also possible to make a combo of lift pass plus a lesson or gear rental –simple!
For planning masterminds, the best option is to take advantage of the Early Bird passes and book ahead! Early Bird passes are the same as Season Passes with the only difference that if you buy way before the season starts, you get almost a 50 percent discount –we love to save you some moolah!
If what you need is to rent gear, you can quickly get sorted at the ski field or contact local snow gear rental shops.
There are 24 ski fields in the country! Though we are sharing our favorite family-friendly spots, New Zealand’s resorts can cater to all sorts of experiences and levels of skill!
If you are used to European or Asian slopes, you’ll notice that there are not a whole lot of ski-in ski-out accommodation options. Most people here drive up and down from the main town areas to the ski resorts.
Most ski fields offer shuttle services in case you are not driving. Ensure to check schedule and seat availability in advance!
Finally! Some areas don’t receive as much snow as you’d expect and weather conditions can also change unexpectedly –sometimes ski fields need to stop operating- so keep that in mind when planning.
Check out Ski The Clubbies’ website and find out how to have an ‘old school’, really authentic ski trip with the family! The Clubbies consist of 6 associated ski fields that offer a vibe that’s quite different from most commercialized ski resorts. These peeps are the real deal!