New Zealand’s clear blue skies, lofty mountains and dazzling snow slopes guarantee its popularity as a skiing and snowboarding destination. DANNY : DE HEK has compiled this guide to New Zealand ski fields and heli-ski areas, to enable visitors to plan their winter travel itineraries.
There are commercial ski fields, club ski fields, Nordic cross-country, and heli-ski areas in New Zealand. They provide a broad range of skiing terrain, from cool running on carefully groomed downhills, to cross-country touring routes, and the ultimate challenge of off-piste descents. Snowboarders can choose from gentle slopes to radical half-pipes that give the maximum buzz.
The North Island has three fields on Mt Ruapehu, including Whakapapa, the largest in New Zealand, and on Mt Egmont there is a club field with good volcano-slope skiing.
The South Island fields are spread widely throughout the Southern Alps with Coronet Peak being the southernmost, and arguably the best in the country. South Canterbury has six fields with good downhill, cross-country and ski touring opportunities. Mt Hutt is rated as one of New Zealand’s best fields, and Porter’s Pass is the closest to Christchurch. Arthur’s Pass region has five fields, Hanmer Springs three, and the Nelson region two.
Heli-skiing and glacier skiing operators cover an extensive range of off-piste skiing throughout the Southern Alps from July to October. Club fields generally represent value for money, as they have good facilities and are less crowded, but may require you to walk some distance from the car park. Visitor centres are situated in nearby towns and have up to date information on transport, equipment hire and weather conditions.
New Zealand’s ski fields are the favourite off-season training venue for numerous Northern Hemisphere ski teams. Check out some of the best snow country south of the equator, and enjoy magic moments where views of glistening slopes and snow-capped peaks go on forever.