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Ski and Snowboard in New Zealand's South Island

Updated on September 13, 2014
Snow capped peaks, Southern Alps, Canterbury, New Zealand
Snow capped peaks, Southern Alps, Canterbury, New Zealand

While you're travelling in New Zealand make sure you take time out to cool off in the South Island's snows. Ski and snowboard to your heart's content in some of the world's most spectacular scenery.

Skiing and snowboarding are popular pursuits for Kiwis. And no wonder - the majestic Southern Alps slice the South Island down the middle; great snow and great slopes are easy to find. When summer's heat fades and winter approaches in June and July, New Zealanders in the know go south.

You can find the excitement of adventure-based snow experiences like heli-skiing or speed-riding, commercial ski fields with all the extras. Or you might prefer more peaceful club ski-fields. Whatever snow sports you enjoy, you will love the South Island.

The 2014 winter has finished so you have a few months up your sleeve to organise your 2015 ski holiday!

Find Snow in the South Island

If it's winter you'll find great snow nearby no matter where you are based.

Starting from the top of the South Island if you're based near Nelson, Blenheim or Picton you are close to the beautiful Rainbow Ski Area, which overlooks the Nelson Lakes National Park.

Around the central South Island you may be based in the alpine resort town of Hanmer, which offers the Hanmer Springs Ski Area. A little further south the island's main city of Christchurch is close to several well known ski fields including Porters, Mount Cheeseman, Mount Hutt, Broken River and Mount Olympus.

If you're in the bottom half of the South Island, perhaps staying in Queenstown or Wanaka, you can take advantage of a great selection of slopes. If you're in this area try out Cardrona, Coronet Peak, and the Remarkables Ski Area.

Not only do all these locations offer great skiing and snowboarding, they are also fantastic for sightseeing and off-snow experiences too.

Ranges Near Mount Somers

Southern Alps, Canterbury, New Zealand
Southern Alps, Canterbury, New Zealand

Heliskiing and Snowboarding at Mount Cook

Snow to Suit Everyone

You'll find that most of the South Island's ski fields provide terrain and slopes to suit anyone, through from experts to beginners. There is also a big selection of off and on piste to choose from throughout the island's fields. Many fields offer lessons in skiing or snowboarding if you'd like some lessons before hitting the slopes. If you're a confident skiier and want a challenge, you won't be disappointed. Try the Rainbow's chutes and high powder runs, Coronet Peak's mogul runs or Porters' vertical drops. If you enjoy night skiing and boarding, head to Broken River and Mount Olympus.

Snow Adventures in NZ - DC Snowboarding Tour, South Island

Snow Adventures in the South Island

If you're ready for more adventure you aren't stuck for choice in the South Island. Heliskiing, speed riding, heliboarding and back country trails are available throughout the island. In Canterbury you can take advantage of Mount Hutt's helicopter pickup with back country skiing. There are many different packages on offer throughout the Southern Alps. For example the Hazard and Tom Thumb ranges are known as great places to heliboard and heliski. Or you might choose to spend a day skiing the Tasman Glacier or exploring ice sculptures and ice caves.

Speed Riding at Cardrona Ski Field

Apres Ski

One of the great things about snow sports is that the fun doesn't stop when you come in off the snow. You'll usually find a warm bar or cafe where you can relax and restore yourself with refreshments. And staying somewhere like Hanmer Springs allows you to really warm up with a visit to the thermal alpine resort's natural hot spas and springs.

The springs at Hanmer are a huge drawcard for tourists and locals alike. This alpine village also has a great range of shops, cafes and restaurants. The slopes are nearby but you can also choose to rent mountain bikes, go horse riding or walk a scenic mountain track.

If you're looking for hot pools but feel like a more remote location try Maruia. The pools here have been developed with a Japanese bath house feel. It is quieter and further up into the mountains than the Hanmer pools, and you can book a private pool or share the larger pools with others. It is beautiful in Summer, but in Winter there is the advantage of fewer sandflies! And sitting in the outdoor hot pool with snow gently drifting down around you, looking out over the river at the trees... well, it is magical.

Coronet Peak Slopes and Attractions

South Island Scenery - YouTube Slideshow

The South Island is beautiful any time of year, so when you're not on the snow there's still lots to do and see.

Ranges Near Flock Hill Station, Canterbury

Southern Alps, Canterbury, New Zealand
Southern Alps, Canterbury, New Zealand

Tell Us About Your South Island Snow Adventure

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    • isabella lm profile image

      isabella lm 

      9 years ago

      Thank you for adding this lens to the Best Islands Guide

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