New Zealand was first discovered by Europeans in 1642 by Dutch sailor Abel Tasman.
Gisborne is the first urban area in the world to see the sun each morning.
The word 'ski' has its origins in the Norwegian word skíð which means a piece of wood.
A trip to New Zealand has become an annual pilgrimage for thousands of Australian skiers – so much so they now outnumber New Zealand skiers at most of the big South Island resorts.And there are many good reasons why.
On the snow there are some great mountains with terrain to keep all levels happy, a higher average annual snowfall than Australia and a variety of ski fields to choose from, from small club fields to larger commercial resorts with world-class facilities. And there are just as many reasons off the snow too - to start with there are now many direct flights from various locations, plenty of accommodation options to suit all budgets, world-class restaurants and bars and an endless supply of activities for adventure junkies. And to cap it all off, wherever you are, there’s scenery on steroids.
The first choice for most skiers is Queenstown on the South Island – the town made famous by its starring role in The Lord of The Rings. This lakeside town is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and is spectacularly beautiful. It’s a great base for exploring various ski fields, the closest of which are Coronet Peak and The Remarkables. The town is a hive of activity in winter as skiers take advantage of the many great eateries and drinking spots at night, and mix up their skiing with some fun (and sometimes crazy) adventure activities – it is after all the birthplace of bungy jumping. Nearby Wanaka is equally as beautiful but slightly more tranquil. It’s home to Treble Cone and Cardrona (both of which can also be accessed from Queenstown), which offer some fantastic advanced and family skiing respectively.
There are many other resorts to choose from – the biggest being Mt Hutt in the South Island and Whakapapa on the North Island alongside smaller commercial areas, and some great club fields that are privately owned but open to the public.
In addition to the resorts, New Zealand has several excellent heli-ski operations that can be enjoyed by intermediate skiers and above – it has the most amount of heli-skiing terrain outside of North America. Read about Southern Lakes Heliski to get a taste of the action.
With all that said, those who have spent a lot of time skiing in the Northern Hemisphere may find the resorts to be small and less challenging (most of the time) than they’re used to. And with the ski seasons being highly unpredictable and variable, it may end up in a disappointing trip. But since you can’t ski in the Northern Hemisphere in July and August we’ll happily take a trip to New Zealand to get our fix.
New Zealand Ski Resorts
Queenstown has so much on offer: incredible scenery, hundreds of restaurants, cool bars, good shopping, countless adrenaline activities and of course four great ski resorts within driving distance.
Coronet Peak is Queenstown’s most popular ski resort with several good lifts, excellent base area facilities and some fun terrain - it’s a great option for all levels of skiing.
Perched up in an alpine bowl, high up in the spectacular Remarkables mountain range, The Remarkables is a fun ski and boarding playground.
Treble Cone has some of New Zealand's best powder and advanced terrain, as well as a giant skiing cat.
Cardrona is a fantastic choice for families and intermediate skiers wanting a wide choice of ski runs and excellent facilities.