When many people think of a ski vacation, they think about the largest mountain ranges in North America and Europe. However, New Zealand is also home to diverse terrain, where large mountains merge with small ones, creating a perfect Southern Hemisphere winter destination.
New Zealand is home to some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world. The country is a great place to visit for anyone who loves the outdoors and the snow. Whether you love snowboarding, skiing, or cross-country skiing — or just want to travel with your family and friends, New Zealand’s ski resorts offer something for everyone.
The country has a variety of ski resorts for all abilities and levels of skiers and snowboarders. While some resorts are spread over a large area, others are much smaller.
In this article, we take a look at New Zealand ski resorts by size, to help you find the right winter destination for your next trip.
Whakapapa – Mt. Ruapehu – 1,359 Acres
This is one of only two resorts on the North Island. The resort is situated on the north-western side of Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand’s largest active volcano. The mountain also has North Island’s highest peak at 2,797 meters.
The resort features 1,359 acres of skiable terrain with 44 kilometers of pistes situated on a 720-meter vertical. The slopes sit on an elevation that ranges from 1,580 to 2,300 meters. The skiable acres are serviced by a network of 5 lifts that include a gondola and a high-speed quad.
The Whakapapa snow area is located on the northwest flank of Mount Ruapehu, overlooking the Bruce Highway. It is in North Island’s Tongariro National Park. The resort’s snow quality varies as the mountain is rather exposed to the elements. It receives an average seasonal snowfall of about 4 meters.
Treble Cone -1,359 Acres
This is one of the most scenic ski fields on the South Island, famous for its breathtaking scenery. It is situated on the side of its home mountain and gives visitors an awesome feeling of standing on the roof of the world overlooking Lake Wanaka and Mt. Aspiring. The resort is for the die-hard skier and snowboarder who appreciates great terrain and few crowds.
Treble Cone is the largest ski area in NZ’s South Island, featuring 1,359 acres of terrain with its longest run being 4 kilometers. The skiable acres are situated on a 700-meter vertical with the elevation spanning from 1,260 meters base elevation to 1,960 meters at the highest lifted point. A network of 4 lifts provides access to the mountain and they feature a 6-pack high-speed chairlift, a high-speed quad, one platter, and a Magic carpet.
Treble Cone Ski Domain is situated within the Southern Alps of the South Island, about 26 kilometers (a 40-minute drive) from Wanaka. Queenstown lies to the southwest, about 90 kilometers away.
The only wrinkle when visiting the resort is that it does not have on-mountain accommodation. Visitors stay in the nearby town of Wanaka, which has an array of dining and lodging facilities ranging from deluxe to budget-friendly.
Roundhill – Lake Tekapo - 1,236 Acres
This ski resort sits atop a dome-like hill and was popular with families and beginners due to its pleasant green slopes. In recent years, the resort has transformed into an all-rounder skier and snowboarder playground, and the total skiable area has been expanded beyond the round hill to the adjoining face. The resort still retains the family-friendly allure, with the low-key facilities standing as a testament to this.
The resort features 1,236 acres of skiable terrain that sits on a lift-accessed vertical drop of 780 meters, the longest of New Zealand’s ski resorts. After the expansion, the resort is now one of the largest ski fields in New Zealand. The resort’s terrain consists of three areas, the learner’s area, the intermediate area, and the newer area that was created in 2010 after the installation of Heritage Express Ropetow. The expansion changed the resort’s statistics drastically in relation to its vertical and the spread of its terrain.
Roundhill Ski Resort is located in the Mackenzie District, about a 40-minute drive (32 kilometers) from lake Tekapo. This is about halfway on the highway that runs between Christchurch and Queenstown.
The resort has ample accommodation facilities with several lodges and dining spots. There are several lodging and dining areas including the hotels at Lake Tekapo as well as various motels, bed and breakfasts, and rental apartments.
Cardrona – 1,149 Acres
This resort is one of the top commercial ski resorts in New Zealand. It is a favorite among Queenstown and Wanaka residents. Although diehard skiers and snowboarders flock to the neighboring Treble Cone, Cardrona is famous among many snow lovers who revel in its terrain parks, beginner terrain, and wide-open groomers for intermediate riders.
The resort features 1,149 acres of skiable terrain, with 40 kilometers of slopes that sit on a 600-meter vertical. The elevation ranges from 1,260 to 1,860 meters. The skiable acres are served by 9 lifts which include a chondola, high-speed quads, and quad chairlifts.
Cardrona Ski Domain is nestled within the spectacular mountains between Queenstown and Wanaka, in the South Island. It receives a modest 2.1 meters of snow each season, with artificial snowmaking facilities supplementing the natural snow in high-traffic pistes.
Temple Basin – 991 Acres
This resort has a bit of a cult following as it attracts powder hunters who come to “pay their respects at the powder temple.” And the trip is worth every dime as the resort has great slopes and snow, making for a pleasant winter holiday. However, to get to the lifts and the skiable area, there’s a lot of hiking involved which means the resort is not for the unfit. The slopes are also mostly ungroomed which creates an off-piste profile that excites advanced skiers.
The resort's skiable slopes have an area of 991 acres, with about 10 kilometers of slopes that lie on a 427-meter vertical. The elevation lies between 1326 and 1753 meters above sea level. Access to the slopes is provided by a network of three ski lifts.
Temple basin is situated in the Southern Alps’ Craigieburn Range. The resort's car park is situated near State Highway 73 to the west of Arthur’s Pass Village. It takes a 45-minute to an hour’s hike to get to the ski area from the car park. Visitors intending to stay longer get great on-mountain accommodation. However, most day-trippers dine and lodge in either Springfield, Methven, or Christchurch.
Mt. Dobson – 988 Acres
This ski area has a tranquil and relaxed aura with splendid facilities and great slopes loved by skiers and snowboarders. Visitors love the ski field as it offers amenities and services akin to those offered by club ski fields.
The resort features 988 acres of skiable terrain, with over 10 kilometers of slopes situated on a 354-meter vertical. The elevation spans from a base of 1,692 meters to 2,046 meters at the highest point. Thrill-seekers enjoy the sun-kissed terrain that lies on a treeless basin with pleasant wide open groomed runs. The slopes are accessed by 4 lifts that include a triple chair and surface lifts.
Mt. Dobson is located in the Mackenzie region in the Two Thumb Range, about an hour’s drive from Fairlie Town. It is just a stone’s throw away from the highway that connects Christchurch and Queenstown.
Visitors stay off-mountain at Fairlie and Tekapo. The town of Fairlie is a sleepy farming town with about 800 inhabitants. The accommodation options here include a range of motels, two hotels, cottages, and an array of farm stay options.
The Remarkables – 951 Acres
This ski field is situated on a mountain of the same name in Queenstown. The Remarkables (or remarks) are some of the most spectacular places in the country and are the most photographed places in the world. Their photogenic nature is enhanced by their jagged nature with steep rises that overlook Lake Wakatipu.
The resort features 951 acres of skiable terrain, with over 10 kilometers of pistes situated on a 333-meter vertical, on an elevation that ranges between 1,610 and 1,943 meters above sea level. The slopes are accessed by a network of 8 lifts that include quad chairlifts and a highspeed 6-pack.
The ski field is situated in the iconic Remarkables Mountain Range on NZ’s South Island. It only takes about an hour to drive to the resort from Queenstown with favorable road conditions. The road heading up to the ski field may be a bit daunting at first, especially if you’re not familiar with it. The snowfield receives 3.7 meters of powder every season, with extensive snowmaking capability to supplement the snowfall.
Mt. Hutt – 902 Acres
Mt Hutt Ski Resort is a great and inexpensive weekday getaway. It is New Zealand’s premier ski resort and is a popular destination for avid snow lovers who like to experience a pleasant thigh burn as the resort has a substantial vertical drop. The resort’s vertical attracts racers and has consequently earned it the title of “Capital of Speed.”
Mt Hutt has 902 acres of skiable terrain, sitting on a 648-meter vertical. Its elevation ranges from 1,438 to 2,086 meters and has 40 kilometers of slopes serviced by a network of 5 lifts. The lifts include a high-speed six-pack, a high-speed quad, and a triple chairlift.
Mt Hutt is situated on New Zealand’s South Island, near Methven in the Canterbury Region. It takes about a 1.5-hour drive to get to the resort from Christchurch. Mt Hutt has a long winter season, even though the slopes are prone to adverse weather, leading to closure. It receives a decent average seasonal snowfall of about 4 meters with artificial snowmaking supplementing the natural snow.
Mt. Lyford – 741 Acres
While this resort is the lesser known among South Island’s ski fields, it is a great ski hill that has superb skiing and snowboarding slopes and facilities. It is a low-key family-owned resort that is one of the pioneering winter playgrounds in New Zealand. If you wish to avoid crowds and enjoy some breathtaking scenery, Mt. Lyford is the place for you.
The ski resort features a minimal 741 acres of skiable terrain, with 20 kilometers of slopes that lie on a 550-meter vertical. Its elevation ranges from 1,200 meters at the base to 1,750 meters at the highest lifted point. It has a network of 5 lifts that provide access to the slopes. The lifts include a T-bar and two platters.
The resort is situated in the northern end of South Island, about 1,646 kilometers (a 2-hour drive) from Christchurch. It takes about an hour to get to Mt. Lyford by road from the coastal settlement of Kaikoura. The ski field has no on-mountain accommodation but there are cozy cabins nearby that provide comfort to weary skiers and snowboarders.
Coronet Peak – 692 Acres
Coronet Peak is one of the more popular winter sports destinations on the South Island. Its proximity to Queensland makes it a popular getaway for its residents. The resort is famed for its intermediate slopes with superb fall lines and excellently groomed runs. It also has a great blend of advanced and beginner slopes.
The ski field has 692 acres of skiable slopes situated on a 648-meter vertical. Its elevation ranges from 1,438 to 2,086 meters above sea level. Its skiable acres are accessed by a network of 8 conveniently placed lifts, which include high-speed 6-packs, high-speed quads, a T-bar, and 4 surface lifts.
Coronet Peak is situated on the outskirts of Queenstown, which lies about 16 kilometers from the town (about a 20-minute ride). It also lies about 21 kilometers from Arrowtown. The resort receives a modest average seasonal snowfall of 2 meters. With great grooming by experienced staff and extensive snowmaking, the resort is turned into a perfect Southern Hemisphere winter getaway.
Find All the Information You Need to Plan Your Next Winter Destination on Brealpa.com
When the skiing and snowboarding seasons come to a close in the north, avid winter sports lovers head to the south for their winter fix. And New Zealand does not disappoint with its numerous ski resorts. In fact, some of the best skiing in the world is found in New Zealand in the resorts found either on either the North or South Island. Each of the resorts mentioned in this article offers a different kind of riding, suiting everyone from adults to kids.
If you’re planning your next winter getaway, you could benefit from having the most accurate and up-to-date information to help you make an informed decision. Brealpa can help you identify the perfect winter destination by providing you with information on:
- How to save money on flights, resort passes, and accommodations
- Resort seasons, opening, and closing times, as well as the best times to visit, and deals on tickets and passes
- Snow and weather conditions in popular winter resorts
- Accommodation options, both deluxe and budget-friendly