A Complete Introduction to NZ's 24 Skifields for International Students – Part 1

Thursday, July 23, 2020

With 24 ski fields across the country, here is our list of the first half of the skifields to visit in both the North and South islands of New Zealand. The fields are listed in order of location from furthest North to South. Stay tuned next week for part 2 of our blog and our list of the 12 other skifields!

1 & 2. Whakapapa/Tūroa – Mount Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, North Island
With both ski areas located on Mount Ruapehu, Whakapapa can be found on the north-western slopes, while Tūroa is on the south-western slopes. If one field is closed, the other will often have some of the lifts open. These skifields are packaged together, so one pass will get you access to both – a season pass for students is $999 to access either ski area at any time between 1 July to mid-October. You can also pay for a day-pass to both mountains and rental gear for $100-$150. Whakapapa is divided into 30% beginner (including key learning area Happy Valley), 45% intermediate and 25% advanced runs, with over 550 hectares of skiable area. Tūroa is divided into 20% beginner, 55% intermediate and 25% advanced runs, with 500 hectares of skiable area.

3. Manganui – Mt Taranaki, Egmont National Park, North Island

This club skifield is located on the slopes of the breath-taking Mount Taranaki. It offers 60 hectares of skiable terrain, 5% beginner, 35% intermediate and 65% advanced, with three row topes and a T-bar. The ski area is run by the Stratford Mountain Club and is the Taranaki regions only ski area. The walk from the carpark to the ski area is around 25-30 mins, with a goods lift halfway. Students can also stay at the lodge at the base of the lift facilities for $30.

4. Craigieburn Valley Ski Area - Craigieburn Forest Park, Canterbury, South Island
With no chairlifts, lodges, spas or restaurants, all you will find here are three rope tows to get to the top. Prices are $60 for the day for students, with members getting up to 50% off these prices. The field has a mixture of runs, including beginner, intermediate and difficult. Accommodation is available for up to 65 people in 6-person bunkrooms and two lodges just below the treeline.

5. Mount Hutt – Methven, Canterbury, South Island

Located 26km from the village of Methven, about 90 minutes from Christchurch International Airport. A student season pass for the mountain will cost $499. If you aren’t looking to go skiing for longer than a week and just want a few days to learn, we recommend the ‘Intro to Snow’ package. This will give you four days of skiing/snowboarding lessons, lift passes and rental equipment for $399. The runs on the mountain include a large amount of expert runs on the outskirts of the mountain, with intermediate and beginner groomed runs close to the chairlifts.

6. Mount Olympus – Craigieburn Range, Canterbury, South Island

With 10% beginner, 55% intermediate and 35% advanced trails, this club-run ski area has four rope tows and a skiable area of 60 hectares. This area is known for its ‘Top Hut’ accommodation, with a hot tub, Far Canal Road Bar, space for 52 overnight guests in 6 dedicated bunkrooms and more all situated at 1,620m above sea levels. Pickup a day-pass for $40 or stay for a night and ski for two days for $175. For those on a budget, the ‘Bottom Hut’ is located at the base of Mt Olympus valley, 1,050m up and has been in operation since 1949. The mountain has been operating since 1932 by the Windwhistle ski club. 

7. Porters - Springfield, Canterbury, South Island

With a skiable area of 285 hectares, this ski area close to Christchurch is great for the more intermediate to advanced skiers/boarders. The area has one main chair, three smaller T-bar lifts on the main mountain and two smaller carpet lifts in the beginner’s area by the carpark. A single-day lift pass is $89 for a student or a first-timer package with lesson and rental gear included will cost $99. A season pass is $549 for students and gets you other benefits.

8.  Awakino - Waitaki Valley, Otago, South Island
Run by the Waitaki ski club, this ski area is located near the town of Kurow in the central South Island. It consists of 10% beginner, 30% intermediate and 60% advanced trails. There are three tow ropes. The field has changed little since it was established in the late 1940’s and continues to be run by the Waitaki ski club. A full day will cost a student $45, a two day pass and one night accommodation at the 40-bunk lodge situated on the access road (1,100m up and 300m away from the ski areas base) will cost $115. 

9. Treble Cone - Wanaka, Otago, South Island
This skifield has 10% beginner terrain, 45% intermediate terrain and 45% advanced terrain. The trail map has over 550 hectares of terrain, with a 700-metre vertical, making it the largest skiable area and longest vertical in the South Island. It celebrated it’s 50th anniversary in 2018 and continues to deliver some of the best skiable terrain in NZ. Student lift passes at ‘TC’ are $99 for the day, and a 3-day multi-pass is $255. A season pass is $849 for students.

10. Cardrona - Otago, South Island
Ideally positioned in-between Wanaka and Queenstown, with 400 hectares of skiable terrain, Cardrona consists of 25% beginner, 25% intermediate, 30% advanced and 20% expert runs. Known for its giant terrain parks, halfpipes and jumps, this is the place to come if you like skiing park features! It is a fully commercial ski area with gondola cabins, six-seater chairs, four-seater chairs and conveyor lifts for a total of six. A full student season pass will cost $899, while a day-pass is $99. The base area also has an iconic clock tower, restaurants, rental/equipment shop and plenty of other commercial features.

11. Coronet Peak - Queenstown, Otago, South Island
This was NZ’s first commercial ski field and has been operating since 1947. The park also offers night-skiing. With eight lifts, 30% beginner terrain, 45% intermediate terrain and 35% advanced terrain, this is a great all-round mountain, with 280 hectares of skiable area – just 20 minutes’ drive from Queenstown. Another commercial ski area, there are many options for food, rentals and parking. The ‘intro to snow’ package will give you four days of lift passes, snowboard equipment hire (skis, boots & poles, or snowboard & boots) and two group lessons per day for $649.

12. The Remarkables – Queenstown, Otago, South Island
With 30% beginner, 40% intermediate and 30% advanced terrain, the skifield has four chairlifts across 218 hectares of skiable area. There are four main chairlifts (two six-seater chairlifts, two four-seaters). The $649 intro to snow package gives you four days of skiing/snowboarding lessons, lift passes and rental equipment. Worth a visit just for the sightseeing over the Southern Alps and Queenstown lakes, a sightseeing pass can be bought for $30 if winter sports aren’t your thing.

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Even if we need to step in one day to help you resolve a dispute, we want you to enjoy studying and living in our amazing country as much as we do. To that end, we’ve created this content so that you may continue to explore and experience the best New Zealand can offer.