Planning your New Zealand trip
New Zealand is one of the best known tourist destinations around. But getting straight information on where to ski and board can be tricky. Some people end up in the tourist towns who’d probably prefer to be somewhere else, and every so often a group of wide-eyed novices turns up at a club field and spends a weak getting brutalised by the rope tows.
Here’s our view on the best places to go for resort and/or backcountry riding, a quick rundown on where to stay, and some tips on how to make the most out of your trip. We’ve been scrounging around these hills for years making the best of the terrain and conditions so we know a thing or two about having a good time.
Obviously, different people like different things and we’ve tried to give an idea of who might suit what. You’ll probably notice that we’re more at the backcountry, uncrowded, focused-on-the-riding-not-the-party side of the spectrum, but hopefully you’ll find something useful here even if you’re looking for something different.
Where to ski - Backcountry
New Zealand has an awful lot of mountains. On the south island, if the weather is good, you pretty much can’t avoid being in sight of something tall and majestic. The key constraints on good backcountry skiing and boarding are access, weather and snow conditions. We’ve tried to set out a few of the main areas and a quick summary of how and when they’re good.
Where to ski - Resorts
NZ has the usual cluster of big, commercial resorts with all the usual facilities for convenient riding and the careful separation of people from their money. But it also has a range of small ski areas that hark back to an older era in skiing. Run by small businesses or even community clubs, these places often have access to incredible terrain, good snow, and a community of passionate and friendly locals. These areas really are unique and should be on the bucket list of any adventurous skier or boarder.
Where to stay
With so many options scattered across the South Island, choosing where you stay is a crucial part of putting together a great trip. Lots of the ski areas in NZ are set up for locals, so the usual model of “ski town near a resort” doesn’t always apply here. Here’s our take on where to stay and how to manage the logistics of your trip.
Do I need to rent a car? What’s the best place to hire skis? What’s the best place to take a family? Who is Harry?
Here are our answers to common questions, advice we often end up giving people, and other tips to get the most out of your trip.