When you think of winter activities, of course we think of snow- and NZ gets plenty of it. The South Island has the world famous playground of Queenstown as its base, (there’s actually lots of things to do year round here), but in winter it comes alive as people from all walks of life and countries around the world descend to ski the reliable snowfields of Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.
Coronet Peak is a 10 minute drive from the centre of town and is easily accessed from Queenstown. The Remarkables is about a 30-40 min drive from town, gets slightly less crowds and is better set up for beginners or learners.
Situated about an hour from Queenstown is Cardrona, which is NZ’s best mountain, with lots of interesting terrain and lots of lifts to keep everyone moving. Nearby is Treble Cone, which has an interesting drive in and facilities are a bit more basic.
Mt Hutt is located 2.5 hours from Christchurch and has great snow and long runs. There are a number of smaller ski areas and club based skifields dotted all over the South Island such as Ohau, Craigieburn Valley, Mt.Dobson, Mt. Cheeseman, Snow Farm, Roundhill, Rainbow, Mt.Olympus, Mt.Lyford, Awakino, Fox Peak, Temple Basin, Broken River and Hanmer Springs. All have basic facilities and most hire gear. Click the links and check their websites for more details.
The North Island has its skiing centred around the mighty Mt.Ruapehu. There are four skifields, Turoa on the south side, Whakapapa on the western side, the club based Tukino on the eastern side and Manganui which is in Taranaki about an hour from New Plymouth.
Whakapapa is accessed from the town of National Park and nearby Turangi
Ski & ride the largest ski area in the country, home to NZ’s longest gondola Sky Waka.
Experience the Sky Waka gondola and cruise high above the maunga, 2020m above sea level to the striking Knoll Ridge Chalet. Breathtaking in summer or winter. There is a café at the top for those not just there for the skiing, but it offers great mountain access. A great place to stay is the Tongariro Chateau at the base of the mountain. You’d think you were in Germany!
The nearby town of Turangi is only 30 mins drive and Kiwi Holiday Park has cabins and plenty of room for campers or camping! Turangi is a full service town with everything you need, and even has the Tokaanu Hot Pools where you can soak away the aches and pains after a days skiing. Turoa is accessed from the Home of the Big Carrot- Ohakune! Accommodation is plentiful, as are gear rental shops. There’s a pile of eateries and the Auckland-Wellington train even stops there!!! The mountain, on the south western slopes of Mt Ruapehu, has the nation’s longest vertical drop at 722m. The High Noon Express takes you to the highest lifted point in NZ with panoramic views of the North Island.
Rip up plenty of gullies, drops, natural hits, wide trails & world class terrain parks. Much of the landscape resembles frozen waves.
The base of the mountain is a 18km drive from town, and buses are available.
One of the places not to forget when it comes to winter places to visit is Snowplanet in Silverdale, Auckland, where it is winter all year round!!
Of course, the whole of New Zealand is dotted with another winter favourite- the natural hot pools that bubble up containing healing minerals. Rotorua contains the most famous ones at The Polynesian Spa, but there are The Blue Baths, Hell’s Gate and with its delightful bush setting, nearby Waikite Valley. Taupo has the wonderful heated DeBretts Thermal Park, Mt.Maunganui the Mount Hot Pools, Turangi has Tokaanu Hot Pools, Whakatane the Awakeri Hot Springs and even Auckland has Parakai Hot Springs for a great fun day out.