It’s that time again… this week our “6 of the best” post brings you our pick of the finest ski resorts in New Zealand.
As usual please feel free to add your comments and your own favourite resorts from the southern hemisphere, be that NZ, Australia, Chile, or elsewhere!
June to September may be a time for cricket, Pimms and gentle boating down the river for us Brits but in New Zealand, it is a time for carving, slipping and shredding. New Zealand is the epicentre for southern hemisphere snowsports attracting the world’s best skiers and riders desperate for a spot of “off-season” snow! Kicking off with the north island and heading due south, here is a quick guide to the best resorts in Aoteroa (Maori for “the land of the long white cloud”)
Mount Ruapheu (Turoa & Whakapapa)
The skifields of Turoa & Whakapapa interconnect on the southern slopes of Ruapehu - which is very much still an active volcano – making, quite comfortably, the largest resort in the country. The area boasts 2600 acres of skiable terrain with 2100ft of vert. – like most things in NZ, the terrain is raw, natural and good fun with plently of steep chutes, drop-offs and plenty of tough off-piste particularly on the Turoa side. On the down-side, the lifts can often be closed due to exposure to the elements and locals suggest that the best time to visit is in Spring (from September) although they may be putting us off the scent!
The dark horse of New Zealand skiing, Craigieburn is a club field (owned by members) and so enjoys a very laid-back Kiwi atmosphere. If you stay up at Craigieburn, lights out is at 10pm…when the generator switches off - it can get a little nippy! But the riding makes up for it with the same no-nonsense approach of the off-snow infrastructure! One single descent through Middle Basin offers 1900ft of vertical and is often compared to a heli-ski experience. The nut-cracker lifts are something that have to be experienced to be believed…watch your fingers!
The oft-forgotten resort of Roundhill should soon start commanding a few more column inches given that the resort recently added a super-long rope-tow (in 2010) and harnessed some previously out-of-bounds terrain to increase the size of the resort from 150 acres to 1250 acres and the vertical to 2600ft – the largest drop of any skifield in Australasia. Talk about a turnaround! Definitely worth checking out.
With jagged peaks rising as if from the depths of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables offers a stunning view from Queenstown. Although not a huge ski area, the Remarks holds its own against any resort with a well-deserved reputation for offering some awesome freestyle skiing and snowboarding facilities – including the new Burton Stash all-natural terrain park.
Located in the Crown Range between Wanaka and Queenstown, Cardies is known as NZ’s best all-rounder with good terrain, decent freestyle facilities and good, though not great, snow-reliability! It’s ideal for intermediate skier and you can find some tougher stuff (such as the Arcadia Chutes) if you look hard enough. Cardrona tunes itself up every year to host the Burton NZ Open.
Local’s favourite TC offers stunning views over Lake Wanaka from the base area. Generally regarded as playing host to New Zealand’s best terrain, TC is the largest resort on the south island with 1350 acres of terrain – almost half of which is categorised as advanced/ expert! It also has a higher proportion of black runs than any other resort in NZ. Treble Cone’s snowfall is also very enviable by New Zealand standards with 15ft of snow in the average winter. I guess that’s why we run our ski instructor courses in Treble Cone!
Oh and don’t forget to keep everything crossed and join us in doing a little snow dance for everyone in New Zealand!
So where’s your favourite?