I’m going to come clean right away – there is no such thing as the “best” place to ski in New Zealand. The best place for you will depend on whether you are looking for incredible views, uncrowded runs, family-friendly terrain, or a buzzing ski town.
Here are our favourite ski destinations in New Zealand:
Read on to learn why each ski field is best in its category.
We might be biased, since our team is based in Wanaka, but Cardrona has always been a favourite ski destination of ours. From the vast range of beginner/intermediate terrain and the new kid-friendly gondola carriages to the extensive child-care and lesson options, Cardrona just can’t be topped in terms of family-friendly skiing.
And Wanaka is a much more laid-back town than Queenstown, which makes it a better choice for families.
With easy access to two of New Zealand’s most famous ski fields, Queenstown is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the buzzing winter vibe. Queenstown is packed with bars and restaurants for apres-ski, and the town is well set-up for young skiers, with buses departing from the walkable town centre every 20 minutes for those too young (or broke) to rent a car. And the scenery is second to none!
Treble Cone is the largest ski field on the South Island, with uncrowded off-piste terrain that will easily keep you busy for weeks at a time. Since the ski field is not set up for beginners, most families head straight for Cardrona, which means advanced skiers have the field to themselves. Located just outside of Wanaka, Treble Cone truly is a hidden gem.
Tucked away near the alpine resort town of Methven in Canterbury, Mt Hutt is far removed from the buzzing Southern Lakes ski district. This is more of a Christchurch locals’ mountain, so if you avoid visiting during the school holidays (July), you won’t have any crowds to compete with.
Okay, this one is debatable, because if there’s one thing all ski fields in New Zealand have in common, it’s the great views. However, the Remarkables mountain range is one of New Zealand’s most iconic, and the lookout points over Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu are staggering.
If you really want to ski on the cheap, you’ll do better to avoid the main ski fields and visit one of the club ski resorts instead. However, these often don’t come with the same range of facilities as the commercial ski fields, so the second-best option is Mt Hutt. Though this ski field is owned by NZSki (the same operator that manages The Remarkables and Coronet Peak) and is priced more or less in line with those two on the major lift passes, there are a few ways to take advantage of great deals. First of all, kids 10 and under ski free of charge! Second, the Intro to Snow package at Mt Hutt is so cheap it almost seems like they’ve made a mistake with their pricing (and it includes lift pass, lessons, and ski rentals). And finally, accommodation in Methven is approximately half the price of (or less) of comparable options in Queenstown.
Below, we have answered several frequently asked questions about New Zealand’s skiing superlatives.
Treble Cone is the largest ski field in New Zealand, with 550 hectares of rideable terrain.
Cardrona Alpine Resort has the most reliable snow cover in New Zealand. However, Treble Cone Ski Field receives the largest amount of snowfall over the winter season. In other words, your chances of a powder day are highest at Treble Cone.
Snow falls between April and October. Occasionally, New Zealand receives snow in the middle of the summer months. However, snow only stays on the mountains between mid-June and mid-October. In addition, most of New Zealand does not receive snow–you would need to visit a ski resort to see snow.
New Zealand’s two major ski hubs are very similar in many ways. Both towns are situated beside a lake surrounded by mountains, and each is close to two ski fields. However, there are a few differences. Wanaka is better if you want a quieter, more laid-back experience, especially if you have younger children. Queenstown is better if you want to fit in lots of sightseeing around your skiing, because it is conveniently located for day trips to many nearby regions.