New Zealand boasts some of the world’s most beautiful mountain ranges and offers some of the best skiing in the southern hemisphere. You certainly won’t be short of a place to ski or snowboard, or fall on your arse! For the more adventurous and more experienced, there are also heli-skiing and glacier-skiing options, although they tend to be more expensive.

If you are tired of backpacking and want to settle somewhere for a while, the winter ski season is an optimum time to do it. Because the ski areas aren’t the huge on-site ski resorts that you’ll find in Europe and North America, the norm is to stay in a nearby town and commute daily to the slopes. The slopes are just as good though and the nearby towns offer plenty of après-ski action!


The NZ ski season runs roughly from the middle of June to early October but you may find some ski areas opening earlier and going later, depending on weather and snow conditions. It’s worth remembering that the ski resorts can get very over-crowded during the school holidays, so it’s best to avoid the slopes during these periods if you can.

  • Lessons are available at most resorts and you can also hire rental equipment. However, most people rent equipment from the ski shops in town as it tends to be cheaper.
  • There are jobs available to backpackers on the ski fields but positions fill up quickly so get in there early. The ski resort websites will have details of employment opportunities.
  • For up-to-date snow reports, check out the website of the resort you are heading to and other websites such as



A basic full-day lift pass at one of the major ski resorts will set you back around $100, with discounts available for students and children. A half day pass would be in the region of $75. If you are planning to be on the slopes for more than one day, then take advantage of the multi-day passes available to save yourself some cash.

Season passes are also available and some of these will allow you to get discounted lift passes at other ski resorts. For beginners, there are first-timer packages on offer which include lessons, lift pass and rental equipment.


North Island - The North Island is dominated by volcanic-slope skiing and most people head to Mount Ruapehu, which is one of three massive volcanoes that make up Tongariro National Park.

Whakapapa and Turoa are Mt Ruapehu’s two main ski fields and together they make up NZ’s largest ski area. Mt Taranaki in the Egmont National Park also offers volcano-slope skiing.

South Island - Most of the skiing in New Zealand is on the South Island and the majority of international skiers head to the towns of Queenstown and Wanaka. The major ski resorts in this area are Coronet Peak, Cardrona, Treble Cone and The Remarkables. Also nearby is the southern hemisphere's first specialised freestyle resort, Snow Park. Further north on the South Island, and certainly not to be overlooked, are Mount Hutt and Porters, both situated in the Canterbury region. The Nelson Lakes National Park also offers skiing opportunities and the Canterbury region has plenty of smaller club fields too which are accessible to the public.

Whether you're a complete beginner hitting the slopes for the first time or an experienced boarder looking for big air, check out some of what New Zealand has to offer on the following pages ...


Ski NZ : Mt Ruapehu | Mt Hutt | Porters | Treble Cone | Cardrona | Snow Park | Coronet Peak | Remarkables