When deciding where to ski in New Zealand, you can choose between three major ski areas:
Queenstown and Wanaka are just an hour’s drive apart, and each town is less than an hour’s drive from two ski fields.
Methven, on the other hand, is close to just one ski field–Mt Hutt–and offers fewer off-slope activities. However, Mt Hutt Ski Field is great for families and less expensive than the other two ski regions, so it can be an excellent option.
Read on for an overview of each ski area so you can choose where to ski in New Zealand.
Queenstown is rightfully the most popular town in New Zealand. In winter, it transforms into a bustling mountain resort, with mulled wine on every street corner and lights strung up for Winterfest.
Nestled beside a picturesque lake, surrounded by mountains, Queenstown is within close reach of two world-famous ski areas. In addition, Queenstown boasts the most convenient mountain coach transport in New Zealand, with buses leaving every 20 minutes from downtown for both ski fields, and daily scheduled services picking up skiers from locations around town.
The Remarkables and Coronet Peak share one pass. In other words, skiers can choose which mountain to ski each day, while rental equipment and lesson packages are available at both mountains.
Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone are also accessible from Queenstown, and skiers can use coach transport to access these resorts as well. However, most skiers choose to stay in Wanaka while skiing at Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone.
One popular option is to split your stay between Queenstown and Wanaka. Visitors to Wanaka fly into Queenstown Airport either way, so this doesn’t add any extra travel time.
The best ski field in Queenstown depends on what you want from your holiday.
You can read an overview of the Queenstown ski resorts and their pros and cons here.
Just an hour’s drive from Queenstown, Wanaka has all the benefits of Queenstown without the crowds. This family-friendly ski resort town also sits on a picturesque lakefront with mountain views, and you’ll find plenty of restaurants and bars downtown for après -ski.
Wanaka is also located within easy reach of two ski fields, including New Zealand’s most family-friendly ski area: Cardrona Alpine Resort.
Just like in Queentown, Cardrona Alpine Resort and Treble Cone share one pass. Consequently, skiers have the flexibility to decide where they plan to ski each day.
Cardrona Alpine Resort is perfect for families and beginner through intermediate skiers, with the most flexible lesson offerings of any New Zealand ski resort.
Treble Cone, meanwhile, is the largest ski area on the South Island, with extensive advanced terrain and some of the country’s best off-piste runs.
Cardrona Alpine Resort is the only commercial ski field with on-mountain accommodation. In other words, if you dream of staying on the snow during your ski trip, this is the place for you.
On-mountain apartments book up well in advance, so be sure to reserve yours as soon as possible. However, there are limited on-mountain activities available, so you may want to stay just two or three nights on the snow and reserve downtown accommodation for the remainder of your stay.
Methven is a tiny, compact town that comes alive in winter. Tucked at the foot of the Southern Alps not far from Christchurch, Methven is a popular ski choice for families and locals.
Though less popular than Queenstown and Wanaka-area ski fields, Mt Hutt is consistently voted New Zealand’s best ski field.
The mountain boasts extensive runs at all levels, a great range of lessons and childcare, and some of the country’s most consistent snow.
A ski holiday at Mt Hutt costs significantly less than the equivalent in Queenstown or Wanaka.
Firstly, accommodation in Methven is practically half the price of accommodation in Queenstown or Wanaka.
Secondly, children ages 7 and under ski free–a major bonus for families and not offered at any other commercial ski field in New Zealand.
And finally, flights into Christchurch are often less expensive than flights to Queenstown.