The 10 Best Ski Resorts in New Zealand

The 10 Best Ski Resorts in New Zealand - UPDATED 2020/21
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With long winters in the mountains, awe-inspiring destinations, and a unique ski culture, New Zealand definitely deserves a spot on your winter sports bucket list. With the help of local insiders, we’ve put together a list of the best ski resorts!

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Known for

Best atmosphere for families in a convenient location

Highlights

  • All-rounder resort with a good mix of terrain
  • Modern infrastructure
  • Easy access to Queenstown
  • Sometimes crowded and potentially tricky drive

Closest airports

Queenstown Airport - 33 mi (1 hour drive)
cardrona ski resort cable car chairlift
A favorite of locals, Cardrona!

Cardrona is a local favorite, so it’s no surprise that our insiders chose this as one of the best in New Zealand. It’s as close as you can get to the best of all worlds: wide variety of terrain, great views, and robust infrastructure – all conveniently located roughly halfway between Queenstown and Wanaka. Cardrona is also quite accessible, less than an hour from Queenstown and Wanaka, with shuttles available if you don’t feel like tackling the road yourself! Of course, that ease of access can sometimes contribute to crowds on the weekends.

Map View

Known for

Natural free-ride terrain, with plentiful snow, and inspiring views

Highlights

  • Largest ski area on the South Island
  • Fantastic runs for intermediates and experts
  • New Zealand’s highest annual snowfall
  • Very limited beginner terrain and relatively expensive lift tickets

Closest airports

Queenstown Airport - 53 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Wanaka Airport - 21 mi (30 minute drive)
Treble Cone ski resort indicator chutes pete treats trail sign
Chutes or blues? Treble Cone has great intermediate and advanced terrain

Boasting jaw-dropping views of Lake Wanaka and Mt. Aspiring, Treble Cone is convenient to get to from both Wanaka and Queenstown. With 45% of the trails rated for intermediates and another 45% for advanced skiers, there are plenty of choices for everyone. The beginner terrain is limited but it’s not too bad for true novices considering Treble Cone provides free access to the Magic Carpet and discounted passes to the Platter Lift. The base area may be relatively basic, but the chic, relaxed town of Wanaka is conveniently close by with a good selection of lodging, restaurants, shopping, and services.

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Known for

A family-friendly experience among some of New Zealand’s most photographed mountains

Highlights

  • Great place to learn to ski
  • Closest ski resort to Queenstown
  • Some of the best terrain parks in the country
  • Expensive lift tickets and small ski area

Closest airports

Queenstown Airport - 11 mi (30 minute drive)
The Remarkables ski resort chairlift mountains
With views like this, it's hard to say no to The Remarkables

Although The Remarkables is a small ski area, the views are certainly big, including some of the most famous vistas on the planet. With three magic carpets within view of the base lodge, The Remarkables is an excellent choice for families with beginners. The runs are nice and wide making it perfect for kids to practice their turns and the trails here are ideal for progressing. However, the natural snow conditions aren’t always great here, and you can sometimes end up with wet and clumpy stuff, or ice. But in saying that, there’s a fair amount of snowmaking to make up for it.

Map View

Known for

Panoramic views and the most popular on South Island

Highlights

  • Easy to get to from Queenstown
  • Particularly great for intermediate skiers and riders
  • Efficient lift system
  • Inconsistent natural snowfall

Closest airports

Queenstown Airport - 15 mi (30 minute drive)
M1 trail sign skiing Coronet Peak
Cruise the blues at Coronet Peak

Only 20 minutes from the adventure haven of Queenstown, Coronet Peak is a favorite place for skiers to get their turns. Coronet Peak offers a variety of terrain, but intermediates will have a blast with all the blue groomers to choose from. With only 27 runs, it occasionally gets crowded, especially compared to some of the club ski fields. The base area might seem sparse but Coronet Peak offers a handful of delightful dining options plus childcare, ski school, rentals and shopping! Best of all, unlike many ski resorts in NZ, there’s on-mountain accommodation.

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Known for

South Island’s highest mountain with superb snow conditions

Highlights

  • Decently sized with a variety of runs
  • High altitude translates to reliable snow
  • Great value for families (kids under 10 can ski free)
  • Limited accommodations and dining options

Closest airports

Christchurch Airport - 66 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Mt Hutt ski resort lodge carpark
Mt Hutt enjoys one of the longest ski seasons in New Zealand

Mt Hutt’s high elevation means there is always reliable good snow conditions and coverage that lasts well into the Southern Hemisphere spring. Here you’ll find a good selection of terrain, with plenty of space for beginners, loads of wide groomers for the intermediates, and a nice collection of off-piste blacks for the more adventurous. Kids below 10 can ski free so families with young ones can get some great value for money. Most visitors stay in Methven, about 30 minutes away, where accommodations are reasonably priced. And if your family has skiers with differing abilities, the range of terrain here makes Mt Hutt a no-brainer.

Map View

Known for

A mecca for advanced and expert skiers and riders, an entirely off-piste experience

Highlights

  • Incredible powder
  • Does not attract huge crowds
  • Affordable
  • Only three rope tows to get you up the mountain

Closest airports

Christchurch Airport - 66 mi (1.5 hour drive)
craigieburn valley mountain skiing
Craigieburn Valley is the real deal for powderhounds

Although it’s a club ski field, Craigieburn Valley has the highest proportion of ‘black’ runs in the country. There’s hardly any beginner terrain here and no grooming. In fact, some intermediates might even have a hard time here. It’s all open bowls, narrow chutes, and long runs of untouched snow. With just two beginner runs, no rental facilities, a basic lodge, limited accommodations, and only three rope tows, it’s understandable that Craigieburn doesn’t draw huge crowds. And of course, there’s all the backcountry you can access with a little bit of hiking.

Map View

Known for

Quiet and friendly mountain, truly an expert's paradise

Highlights

  • South-facing basin translates to powder dumps
  • No crowds so the snow holds nicely
  • Excellent gateway to backcountry and ski touring
  • Rope tows used to access the entire mountain

Closest airports

Christchurch Airport - 78 mi (3 hour drive)
Mount Olympus top of mountain skiing
They call it "the playground of the gods" for a reason

When you see the peaks and the terrain at Mount Olympus, you’ll understand why they call it “playground of the gods”. Not only will you find a relaxed and enjoyable experience here – but if you’re willing to hike a bit from the lift, you’ll get access to the incredible backcountry! And although the access road isn’t the easiest to navigate and not everyone enjoys rope tows – especially beginners and snowboarders – this is what keeps the crowds down. 100 people is a big day here – which means plenty of fresh lines on the slopes and no lift lines!

Map View

Known for

Affordable skiing with a laid-back atmosphere

Highlights

  • No crowds so powder stashes for days
  • Great for families with intermediate abilities (kids under 13 ski free)
  • Friendly locals, no hardcore attitude
  • Very basic food services and amenities

Closest airports

Christchurch Airport - 65 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Broken River ski resort New Zealand
It's all about the mountain here at Broken River

Broken River offers a broader selection of terrain than some of the other club ski fields. That, plus the fact that kids under 11 ski free, makes it a good choice for families – as long as everyone can get themselves comfortable with the rope tow lifts. And since the club doesn’t draw that many visitors, powder stashes last for days in the sheltered bowls. The day lodge has basic food service and relatively inexpensive lessons, but that’s about it as far as amenities. It’s a place for the adventurous souls who are all about the fantastic terrain, quality snow, and friendly, laid-back vibe.

Map View

Known for

Wide variety of runs and a great choice for familes

Highlights

  • Family friendly
  • Large dedicated beginner area
  • Plenty of terrain for intermediates
  • Lack of nightlife and may experience crowds on weekends

Closest airports

Auckland Airport - 207 mi (4 hour drive)
Taihape Airport - 71 mi (1.5 hour drive)
Whakapapa ski resort New Zealand
Whakapapa is one of two ski resorts on the North Island

Whakapapa was the filming location for Mordor in The Lord of the Rings saga – and if that’s not enough to get your attention, it sits on an active volcano! With almost 70 runs, Whakapapa is excellent for everyone from novices to experts. It has New Zealand’s largest dedicated beginner area, safely away from more advanced runs and faster skiers which makes the resort great for families. Accommodations are also more convenient than its neighbor Turoa, with a handful of lodges at the base and a broader selection at National Park. Of course, its accessibility means it is likely to get crowded.

Map View

Known for

The longest vertical drop in Australasia with modern lift infrastructures

Highlights

  • Great place for learners
  • High elevation calls for lots of snowfall
  • Great nightlife and superb restaurants
  • Limited lodging choices in Turoa

Closest airports

Auckland Airport - 226 mi (4.5 hour drive)
Taihape Airport - 47 mi (1 hour drive)
chairlift Turoa ski resort New Zealand
Ski on New Zealand's largest active volcano

One of only two ski resorts on New Zealand’s North Island, Turoa gives you a chance to ski on the country’s largest active volcano, Mt Ruapheu! Turoa’s elevation and location allows for plentiful snow and more challenging terrain than neighboring Whakapapa. The terrain offers a little something for everyone so you might see a flock of crowds incoming on weekends from Wellington and Auckland. There’s dining all throughout the mountain, serving up incredible Middle Earth views along with the food! If Turoa lacks anything, it’s lodging. Luckily, the town of Ohakune has many more options just 30 minutes from the lifts.

The 10 Best Ski Resorts in New Zealand
Cardrona
Treble Cone
Remarkables
Coronet Peak
Mount Hutt
Craigieburn Valley
Mount Olympus
Broken River
Whakapapa
Turoa
Cardrona