The South Island is home to close to twenty ski resorts on the alpine chain which crosses the island from North to South. The most beautiful are in the region of Central Otago around Queenstown, Arrowtown and Wanaka. These cities are part of the Great Lakes region and the framework is splendid. In the South Island, skiing is practiced in several small stations best chosen depending on its program and weather.
Ski resorts are all outside cities. To stay, you can choose between Queenstown, Arrowtown and Wanaka.
The Cardrona station, 1894m above sea level, is perched in the most impressive mountains in the South Island. The road from Wanaka to the bottom of the slopes takes about 35 minutes, from downtown Queenstown it’s longer (about 1 hour) but it is a spectacular drive.
This pretty resort with an area of 320 hectares spread over three valleys and an altitude difference of 390 meters offers a very high quality with tracks intended for skiers and snowboarders beginners and average. It has 7 lifts, snowpipe, ski school, equipment rental shops, cafes as well as a medical center. The resort offers various activities and play areas for children.
Note the path is unpaved for 12 km and can be difficult for campers and in the event of snowfall.
Treble Cone is a resort particularly suitable for skiers and snowboarders of medium-level and experienced. The views from the heights of the stations 1910 m on Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring, as well as the quality of the snow make this resort one of the best in the country.
With an area of 550 acres, it is also the largest ski resort in the South Island. Coveted by snowboarders, it has excellent equipment of half pipes and snowpark. It hosts also several competitions for snowboards. It has a fast chairlift for 6 people, which avoids the long queues in high season.
Activities abound for families with a child ski school, a children’s club for indoor and outdoor activities as well as reserved parking.
Shuttle bus daily from Wanaka and Queenstown during the season.
Waiorau ski area and Snow Park
On the other side of the Valley facing Cadrona Waiorau is one of the few stations to have a cross-country course. It lies between 1200 and 1500 meters above sea level. In the same region is also the Snow Park, a well-equipped technical field where snowboarders and freestylers can have fun.
The Remarkables station is distributed over three valleys. It has slopes suitable for all levels. But we quickly made the round of trails (only 220 hectares). It offers, in contrast, 500 acres of off-piste. It culminates at almost 2000 meters with a climb of 357 meters and has 7 lifts. On-site you will find a ski rental shop, ski school, half pipe, snowpark, tubing park, cafes, and restaurants. On the other hand, there is no accommodation.
The station is located 24 km from Queenstown. The access road is very steep.
Coronet Peak at low altitude (1220 to 1640 meters) is the nearest to Queenstown station (18 km). The 280-hectare site, highly developed and well equipped, is served by 6 lifts with a climb of 481 m. Track-level will be intermediate and beginner skiers. There are some steep off-trail. This small station has a picnic area, snack shops, daycare, equipment rental, ski school as well as a half pipe, snowpark, tubing park for snowboarders.
Possibility of accommodation on location.
Mount Hutt, a hundred kilometers from Christchurch (less than two hours by car) is the largest resort in the region of Canterbury and the best equipped. Located at the foot of the Southern Alps at an altitude of 2086 meters with a vertical drop of 683 m, it offers good conditions of snow and the tracks all levels.
The ski area of 365 hectares is served by 9 lifts. The lower part is reserved for beginners, and the southern slopes to the advanced. At the Summit, there are the Banks Peninsula and off the distance the ocean.
If conditions permit, it is possible to practice cross-country skiing on the north side (North Peak). A helicopter will drop you off at the beginning of the course. Shelter, to get to Methven, the nearest town (26km) where you can enjoy the warm atmosphere of the bars after a long day of skiing. The station access road is not paved for 13 km. On location parking, rental equipment, daycare, restaurant and ski school.
The Porter Heights is home to a medium-sized station that enjoys good weather conditions. It is located at 1980 meters. The view from the Summit offers a magnificent panorama of the Southern Alps. This station has the longest descent in the southern hemisphere called Big Mama (720 metres), and tracks the steeper of the country (Bluff faces). The site has 5 ski lifts and slopes for all levels.
Heliskiing is very widespread in New Zealand. A helicopter drops you off at the top of a vast expanse of Virgin snow as you descend in ski or surf. MtPotts stations (Canterbury region), and the site of the Harris Mountains (region of Otago – Wanaka) offer various Heliskiing options. Expect about $ 650 per day.
We recommend using this site www.snowplanet.co.nz for indepth information about ski and snow conditions.