Canterbury’s Extraordinary Range Of Ski Fields
Skiing in Canterbury rewards the adventurous. Even a straight-out-of-the-box ski week will throw enough curve balls to let you know these are real mountains with their own agenda.
The incredible variation in terrain, lift access, grooming, dining options and vibe ensure there is something for every ski and snowboard enthusiast.
It’s not just real estate agents calling Tekapo the “new Wanaka”. The town has more than just epic views across Lake Tekapo and has become a destination in its own right. It's a perfect base to explore the local mountains.
Catch a mid-week storm at the family friendly Roundhill for uncrowded powder missions on the biggest vertical drop in Australasia. And the von Brown Hut couldn’t be any more rustic chic when you need a quick schnapps. Prost!
Fox Peak is a mysterious gem of a resort. The platter is great for the kids but the real action is off the rope tows and in the surrounding backcountry.
Ōhau is the ideal stopover on a Central South Island roadie, and Lake Ōhau Lodge offers some of the best value in the country. Gazing across Lake Ōhau and sipping a coffee or a gin-and-tonic, this Kiwi classic is a bucket list essential.
Mt Dobson is another minor Kiwi classic in the key of ski. Easy day-tripping distance from either Tekapo or Fairlie gets you to a juicy alpine bowl. It’s an easy and accessible family snow sport experience.
The addition of the Ōpuke Thermal Hot Pools has changed the perception of Methven from a sleepy agricultural town to a genuine tourist destination.
Mt Hutt is the largest and best serviced resort in Canterbury and has picked up best in NZ awards every year since 2015. It’s easily the most convenient with a well-groomed road and pistes, and huge lifting capacity. A two-minute ride at top speed, the eight-seater Norwest Express is superfast, comfy, and runs on all but the windiest days.
Porters is the closest ski resort to Christchurch (89km) for those watching the clock and ‘Upper Leaper’ on the top T-Bar has chalky mid-winter snow for most of the season.
The “Clubbies” (Mt Olympus, Broken River, Cheeseman, Craigieburn and Temple Basin) are widely regarded as the soul of New Zealand freeride. On their day they define a premium experience: unique, earned rather than purchased, spectacular quality for cost, and a little unexpected.
Temple Basin is New Zealand’s most mythical ski resort. It is a place of pilgrimage, a test of endurance, and lies as close to the sacred heart of Kiwi freeride as you can get without skiing off Aoraki. Nor-west storm? It’s probably dumping. Take poles for the walk up.
When conditions are right snow gets sucked into the main bowl at Broken River and conditions can be the best on the Range. The BBQ on the Palmer Lodge deck, with kea lapping the lard out of the fat reservoir, is quintessential New Zealand.
Head to the accessible backcountry options at Craigieburn Valley for the more adventurous, including the sustained pitch to Big Bend and Avalanche Corner. This is one of the best powder runs in New Zealand.
Mt Cheeseman is Canterbury’s family resort secret. Avoid the powder day frenzy elsewhere with easy backcountry laps in Tarn Basin.
When conditions are perfect at Mt Olympus you’ll come to believe this really is the playground of the gods. Day trippers should book the excellent lunch by phone before heading up (if you haven’t booked by 11am you miss out).