Skiing and snowboarding are some of the most popular winter tourist activities here in New Zealand, and it’s not surprising why. This country is positively swathed in fantastic alpine resorts, from buzzing major commercial operations to smaller, more laid-back clubs.
But let’s not dillydally with an intro – on your next NZ winter holiday, make sure you visit at least one or two of these locations.
After your fill of Wanaka, you can keep the same Holiday Park accommodation and try out Queenstown’s ski fields, as the adventure holiday capital is barely an hour away. Try The Remarkables Ski Area first, with its fairly even split of 30:40:30 tracks. When night falls, you can still enjoy Coronet Peak, as night skiing is available here on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The two largest ski fields in the entire country can be found on Mount Ruapehu. Whakapapa sits on the northwest slope, and has its own valley dedicated to beginners. Plus there are over 30 groomed trails for intermediate-level skiers, too. More advanced courses are on the southwest slope, Turoa, which has 12 intermediate tracks, 25 black diamonds and some spectacular back country routes to make you feel like a rugged explorer.
As for accommodation, Turangi is your most convenient tourist town, with a place to stay provided by Turangi Holiday Park no more than an hour from either slope. While you’re in the area, make sure you also pop up to Taupo and Rotorua to try the world-famous attractions here, such as the geothermal wonders at Waimangu Volcanic Valley.
This famous lake town has two of the country’s best fields within less than an hour’s drive away: Cardrona and Treble Cone. The former’s slope difficulty is a beginner:intermediate:advanced blend of around 25:50:25, making it ideal for newer or less-confident skiers. When you feel like moving up, the latter area is more around 10:45:45, so you have more options when it comes to the tricker tracks.
Don’t forget to book accommodation while you are in the area. Wanaka Kiwi Holiday Park and Motels is an award-winning destination offering free Wi-Fi, spa and sauna facilities, a car wash (mountain roads can get pretty muddy) and space for either campers or those who want a solid roof over their heads.
Kiwis are famous for their relaxed approach to life, and you can get a feel for this at Awakino Ski Field close to Kurow. You’ll find near-untouched snow here, as the mountain is far less commercially developed than its other South Island counterparts, and a ‘busy day’ means there are maybe 10 or so people. Awakino is open most weekends between July and October, depending on snow conditions.
You can stay nearby, too, as there is a great camp ground/motel in Kurow, a mere 10 minutes away. Kurow Holiday Park is also convenient for launching a tour of the triplet hydro lakes nearby (Aviemore, Benmore, Waitaki), which will look beautiful surrounded by snowy peaks.
Mount Egmont in Taranaki is famous for not only being one of the only towering peaks in the area, but also for its stereotypical volcano shape, which is a delight for the camera lens. It also has a ski field, Manganui Ski Area, and is ideal for more advanced-level sportspeople. In fact, this park is around 5:35:65 in terms of difficulty, so if you love the thrill of a steep slope, carve up this glorious volcano next Kiwi winter.
Need a place to stay? Opunake Beach Kiwi Holiday Park is but 50 minutes away by rental car, and offers a mix of camp sites and self-contained units (and an seaside location to boot!).