As spring moves into summer and the ski resorts across the northern hemisphere close, New Zealand snowboarding holidays are gearing up for their season to begin. With around 28 ski areas to choose from, what are the 12 best NZ ski resorts?
So if the northern hemisphere summer glacier skiing, dry slopes, or indoor ‘fridge’ options do not appeal to you, then fly south for the summer. Many seasonaire skiers and snowboarders do just that – chasing the endless winter.
New Zealand snowboarding holidays
If it wasn’t such a long trip to get there, New Zealand snowboarding holidays would probably rank as one of the most popular summer vacations. But they are over 10,000 miles from the French Alps, and almost as far away in style as they are in distance.
But 24 hours on a plane is well worth it. Not just for the skiing or snowboarding but for the entire kiwi experience. It’s one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, has a low population density and is rammed full of adventure. From bungee jumping to zorbing, and skydiving to surfing you name it, you can do it.
So, when people start flooding to the overcrowded beaches of Europe, instead head far south to where the snow is still falling. You’ll quickly find New Zealand stands out as the best place in the southern hemisphere for your off-season shred, you may like it so much you’ll decide to spend your summers wintering in NZ!
12 best NZ ski resorts
So you have decided New Zealand snowboarding holidays are for you, but where should you go? Fortunately for you, we have put together this handy guide to the best NZ ski resorts. It was going to be a top 10, but we couldn’t narrow it down below 12… So starting in the north:
Although most of the NZ ski resorts are on the south island the largest, Whakapapa Ski Area, is located pretty much in the centre of the North Island. It is found on the north-western slopes of Mt Ruapehu that was used for filming Mordor in Lord of the Rings.
Whakapapa has plenty of gentle slopes for those learning, with the largest dedicated beginner area in New Zealand. There are around 30 intermediate slopes that are great as you progress, plus 24 black or black diamond runs for advanced riders.
To find out more head to the Whakapapa website.
Turoa is on the southwestern slopes of Mt Ruapehu and its 722m of vertical descent it is the longest in Australasia. It also has New Zealand’s highest lift. As in the case of Whakapapa, it has slopes for all level of skier or snowboarder, but with 25 black or black diamond runs the advanced shredders will love it.
For freeriders there are two dedicated backcountry riding areas. Be sure to check out Hamilton Face if you like steeps, also head to the Organ Pipes a natural half pipe that is, naturally, a lot of fun. Watch out for the skim pond come spring….
Visit the official Turoa website for more info.
As you have already flown south, you may as well go the whole hog and head to the South Island. Here, Treble Cone is one of two resorts (although it used to be three) easily accessed from Wanaka. Probably the best freeride destination south of Christchurch, if not the whole of New Zealand, TC has endless shoots, drops and often the snow to ride them.
Spending a couple weeks of skiing or snowboarding at Treble Cone is easily possible, and if you’re anywhere in the area you’ll be foolish not to ride here. There are plenty of other ski resorts nearby if you fancy a change of scenery during New Zealand snowboarding holidays.
Head to the Treble Cone website for more info.
Many people have cited Travis Rice’s film ‘That’s It, That’s All’ as their reason for snowboarding in New Zealand. Cardrona featured prominently in the movie, and like most of the main resorts in NZ, there’s a combination of great freeride terrain and some sick parks.
Another resort easily reached from Wanaka, take some time to get to know this laid back little town when you’re not riding. Chill down by the lake on a sunny afternoon, or visit to the perspective altering ‘Puzzling World’, or Cinema Paradiso, when the weather moves in.
Find out more about Cardrona Ski Resort.
Snowpark (Permanently closed)
Do you love to ride the park? Ever wanted a whole resort dedicated to kickers, pipes, rails and boxes? Well Snowpark was just that. It was where professionals came to practice over the summer, riding side-by-side with the public. It won awards and was one of the best NZ ski resorts – despite not having any actual runs.
There were scarily big booters, progressive features and huge pipes, but unfortunately it shut in 2013 due to lack of demand – despite being very popular (go figure!). Again it was easy to reach from Wanaka, located right next to Cardrona. We left it in this article in the hope it reopens as it was that good!
“Playground of the Gods…” is the phrase you’ll first read upon entering the access road to Mount Olympus. This is no exaggeration either. This small club field, with only a handful of rope tows, has some terrain that would get professional French mountaineers drooling.
Not for the fainthearted or beginners, here going up can be as hard work as riding down. With nothing resembling an ordinary ski lift you’re left relying on revolving thick ropes, a ‘nutcracker’ and harness, and a whole lot of determination and arm strength.
Stay at the mountain top lodge, or bunker down in the ‘Bottom Hut’ at the base of the mountain before braving the nerve racking, rocky road up the hill. Don’t forget to call up in advance on the Hut’s radio – the road’s not wide enough for two cars to pass! The best NZ ski resort if you want an adventure just getting there…
Want to join the adventure then head to the Mount Olympus website.
Craigieburn Valley Ski Area
Another of the club fields – the club-run traditional ski hills. Don’t expect high-speed quads or hundreds of kilometers of groomed pistes. Instead be ready for gnarly terrain, friendly locals, and next to no-one else on the mountain with you.
Hit Craigieburn place on a powder day and you’ll be able to lap freshies all day long. The only thing that lasts loner than the powder is the smile on your face.
Find out more about Craigieburn Valley Ski Area.
If you’ve made the journey through the spectacular Arthur’s Pass to Temple Basin, you’ll hopefully already know about access to this club field. Just load your gear onto the awaiting goods lift then a short 40 – 50 minute hike will bring you to the un-pisted ski field.
Making this pilgrimage during New Zealand snowboarding holidays is wholly worthwhile. You’re rewarded with four completely natural un-pisted basins to play in. A night shred is possible if you’re spending a few days here. When there is fresh snow Temple is a shrine to freeriding.
Learn more about Temple Basin ski field.
Lake Ohau Snow Fields
Located somewhere in the middle of nowhere, roughly halfway between Queenstown and Christchurch, Ohau is more than just a stop-off ride destination on your road trip around the South Island. Set in a stunning location, and with a completely unassuming vibe, Ohau has some incredible riding opportunities that few make the most of.
Don your avalanche gear and take the short hike off the top of the last lift to access the ridge. From here the choice is yours, whichever direction you take, you’ll be screaming and hooting your way to the bottom. It may be in the middle of nowhere but it’s one of the best NZ ski resorts.
More info about skiing and snowboarding at Ohau.
Mount Hutt is one of New Zealand’s most commercial ski areas and won best ski resort in both 2015 and 2016. At just under two hours from Christchurch it is a world away from the community feel of the club fields. Don’t let that put you off though it’s a great destination for New Zealand snowboarding holidays.
With a huge range of pistes offering many slopes for all levels, it’s good for beginners through to experts. Mt Hutt has one of the longest season and most reliable snow, making it one of the best NZ ski resorts. There are terrific views across the canterbury plains and it’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Visit the official Mt Hutt website for more info.
Queenstown is the extreme capital of NZ, attracting thrill seekers from all around the world. It was home to the world’s first commercial bungee jump and still has two of the best bungee jumps on the planet. If you use Queenstown as your base, expect to bump into people from all over the world.
Coronet Peak didn’t give Queenstown its extreme reputation, but it is a great mountain for beginners, intermediates and families on New Zealand snowboarding holidays. Plus the legendary night skiing here makes up for the lack of difficult runs, adding another dimension to your holiday.
Find out more about Coronet Peak.
We almost made it to the end of our best NZ ski resorts without mentioning Lord Of The Rings for a second time….. In addition to having some of the best skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand, The Remarkables are the backdrop to some of the most famous scenes in the films.
Swiftly back to the snowboarding though… The Remark’s have three good, well maintained snow parks suitable for first time freestyling to dedicated park rats. Many of it’s runs are more suited to advanced snowboarders, include some great, if rather short, freeride options off the ‘Shadow’ chair lift.
Learn more about skiing and snowboarding the Remarkables
If you are planning New Zealand snowboarding holidays, you won’t go wrong with the best NZ ski resorts above. The tough thing is narrowing it down – which is why we recommend a road trip. After all New Zealand is an incredible country to travel around, take a snowboard with you and it makes for an epic adventure.
Check out our New Zealand articles for extra inspiration of what to do on your trip.