New Zealand boasts some of the best skiing in the southern hemisphere. It’s ski scene combines incredible views with an affordable price tag and that laid-back atmosphere that makes New Zealand such an attractive holiday destination. Whether you’re looking at commercial ski resorts or intimate club fields, New Zealand’s slopes offer something for first-timers through to pro riders.
Treble Cone is not only the largest ski area on the South Island, it is also home to the region’s longest vertical drop, at 700 metres. This, combined with its 5.5 metres of snowfall per season — the highest amount in the country — makes Treble Cone an ideal choice for intermediate and advanced skiers. Just a 30-minute drive from the town of Wanaka, Treble Cone is blessed with breathtaking views of Mount Aspiring and Lake Wanaka below. Although only about 10% of the terrain is suitable for beginners, Treble Cone’s natural beauty will appeal to just about everyone.
The name “Craigieburn” is known to snowsports enthusiasts around the world. Located about two hours northwest of Christchurch, this is something of a Mecca for expert-level skiers and snowboarders. In fact, Craigieburn and Treble Cone contain the highest proportion of black runs in New Zealand, with 45% of their landscape categorised as ‘advanced’ terrain. Untamed and uncrowded, Craigieburn contains the kind of powder-filled bowls that are usually hard to come by without access to a helicopter. Free from any kind of artificial grooming, the entire area is technically off-piste — which makes Craigieburn a fantastic playground for adventurous and independent skiers.
Just a 15-minute hike from Craigieburn is where you’ll find the Broken River Ski Area. This area receives the same generous snowfall as its better-known neighbour, yet contains fewer vertigo-inducing black runs. Although the terrain still contains enough chutes and steep basins to keep advanced skiers busy, the atmosphere is decidedly easy-going with a trademark friendliness which is hard to beat. Broken River’s sheltered bowls and reasonably avalanche-safe access road allow it to operate more often than nearby ski fields; if you have any doubts about the weather, this is the best place to be. Broken River is also relatively unknown, which means that savvy skiers could have the powder all to themselves.
Cardrona Alpine Resort
Cardrona is considered one of New Zealand’s most family-friendly skiing destinations. Less than an hour’s drive from Queenstown, Cardrona contains enough groomed slopes to suit all ability levels. Although the powder coverage and total snowfall aren’t likely to impress, Cardrona still offers an incredible skiing experience; on-site facilities include gear hire, ski schools, eateries and even child care services. It’s thanks to these unparalleled perks that Cardrona swarms with visitors during the school holidays. Don’t be fooled by its child-friendly reputation, though — Cardrona also caters to the big kids with four terrain parks, a halfpipe, and one Olympic-sized halfpipe to boot!
Mount Olympus is another top skiing spot located within the Craigieburn mountain range. Less visited than either Craigieburn or Broken River, the nerve-wrecking road to Mount Olympus usually weeds out all but the most determined powderhounds. Like Craigieburn, the Mount Olympus Ski Area mostly caters to expert-level skiers and snowboarders. The relatively small ski area (60 hectares) houses some huge terrain, with even more available to those willing to hike above and beyond the ski lifts. The amount of traversing required to access these areas means that Mount Olympus generally favours skiers over snowboarders. Still, a long day on the slopes will make a night at Top Hut, Mount Olympus’ legendary ski-in ski-out lodge, even more rewarding.
Featured Image Credit: Jason Blair.