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Your Winter Playground

Family Friendly Skiing

Family Friendly Skiing In Canterbury

Waitaha Canterbury has numerous family-friendly ski fields to choose from, with many offering lessons and programmes for kids as well as beginners' packages. Check out our summary to help you decide where to take your young ones for a dose of snowy excitement this winter.

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Mt Hutt

Family is important at Mt Hutt which has been voted New Zealand’s best ski resort eight years running at the World Ski Awards.

They have four freestyle terrain parks, which are hugely popular with older kids and young adults.

Kids five and under ski free and they offer ski and snowboard lessons and coaching for ages four-15 at all ability levels, from first timers to performance coaching. They also run a range of kids' programmes for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. Ranging from newbies to competitive skill development coaching.

But you don't need skis to enjoy Mt Hutt, if you're looking for a little more fun on the snow, they've got you covered too with yooner and toboggan hire available.

Whether you're taking the kids up for the day, a week or are committing to the whole season, there are passes to suit what all families are looking for.

Kids Playing in Snow at Mt Hutt

Porters Alpine Resort

Porters Alpine Resort offers the nearest skiing to Christchurch, which means less time on the road and more on the snow. The best part for families is that children 10 and under are free.

If you’ve never skied or snowboarded before, they have a designated area for you to learn and progress and for those used to skiing and riding across all terrain, there is still plenty to explore!

They have a special beginner group lesson for children under five called Ski Play. This lesson aims to introduce children to skiing through games and activities that promote balance, coordination, and movement. They also have beginner lessons for youth and adults as well as ski and snowboard programmes for children, youth, and adults which take place over multiple days.

There are a range of passes to accommodate everyone.

Ski Lessons at Porters

Mt Cheeseman

Known for their distinctive fun, friendly vibe, Cheeseman is a club ski field that promotes a fun, family environment only 90 minutes’ drive from Christchurch.

Kids 10 and under ski free here, and the large, warm day lodge is open to all day guests with the wrap around deck overlooking the learners' slope. This is the perfect spot to relax over a fresh espresso coffee (or wine!) while you watch your little ones learning to ski or board.

They also hold Sunday coaching sessions that give children a chance to make new friends and hone skills while parents get an afternoon to ski and ride the mountain.

Cheeseman has a full range of equipment to hire as well as various passes to keep everyone happy.

Cheeseman View

Roundhill Ski Area

Roundhill Ski Area is located on the Tekapo side of the Two Thumb Range and is a fantastic spot for families. It offers groomed trails with plenty of natural dips and curves.

Roundhill is owned by Tekapo locals the Rieder family, they grew up skiing at Roundhill and have created a ski field with Mum, Dad, and the kids in mind. It’s a very relaxed, social, family atmosphere – you’ll meet like-minded people who are only too happy to have a yarn about the day and the spectacular environment surrounding you.

Children who are five years and under ski for free.


Mt Dobson Ski Area

Mt Dobson Ski Area is an owner-operated ski area with a relaxed atmosphere and dramatic vistas punctuated with piercingly blue ice-fed lakes. With regular snowfalls and wide-open slopes, it has good skiing and snowboarding conditions for families, beginners and intermediates.

They have a relaxed family-friendly atmosphere, a large sunny beginners’ area and great trails for beginners to progress and improve their skills. 

Children under five ski for free and the ski area even has a purpose-built toboggan area, with sleds available for hire – perfect for those that don’t ski or ride.

Girls on Mt Dobson

Hanmer Springs Ski Area

Hanmer Springs Ski Area offers a truly affordable, grassroots snow experience. Despite being a small operation, it has a fantastic beginners area – an easy walk from the warm day lodge, which is serviced by a fixed-grip learners’ rope tow.

The ski area has a Poma and rope tow for more experienced skiers. It is run by a small staff, supported by a volunteer ski club – so friendly faces and advice on how to use the rope tow are never far away.

Hanmer Springs Ski Area has a parents’ pass, allowing couples to have turns skiing and staying in to care for their child, without having to buy a pass each. Children 10 and under ski for free.

The day lodge has a mezzanine floor with toys, sofas and large windows with a view of the slopes to make sure no one misses out on the action.

Outside there is a nice big flat area for playing, digging snow caves and towing sleds up and down a small slope.

Hanmer Springs Ski Area

Mt Lyford Ski Area

Mt Lyford Ski Area is family friendly as it is family owned and operated.

Children under seven years can ski for free and there are also parent passes available for those with little ones.

It is set up perfectly to cater for entry-level and intermediate skiers and snowboarders with gentle rolling terrain, and a centrally-located day lodge. The lodge is right next to the learners’ slope and the main intermediate lift.

For those not wanting to ski there is a snow tubing luge – great for a thrill or to tow the little ones around in.

Mt Lyford

Ski And Snowboard Hire

Most ski areas offer on-mountain gear hire but it’s worth checking to make sure before you go. Gnomes in Darfield and McEwings Ski & Snow Board Hire in Yaldhurst are both local options in Christchurch.