Is the summer heat getting to you? Have you already started counting down the days until your local ski hill opens? Maybe you should just blow that number to shreds and book your ticket to New Zealand.
As you can see, most of the skiing is on the South Island (with also happens to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth). While there is some pretty good skiing to be had on the North Island, I’d recommend heading straight to the South Island if your time is limited. If you can swing it, book a flight into Queenstown Airport. If you get a flight into any of the major cities in New Zealand (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin), you can usually find a cheap transfer to Queenstown. The next best option would be to fly into a major city in the South Island (Christchurch or Dunedin), and rent a car or van from there.
Once you’re sorted in the South Island, you’ll want to make your way to Queenstown and Wanaka, which are a big adventure hub in New Zealand. You can ski, mountain bike, bungee jump, sky dive, or get your blood rushing in a number of different ways. These two towns are only about an hour apart by car and both have beautiful alpine lakes surrounded by snow capped mountains in the winter. Queenstown is a bit more developed and has more of a party scene, and Wanaka is more laid back with a traditional ski town feel. I’d recommend spending a couple nights in either place if you can swing it.
Between Queenstown and Wanaka, there are 4 commercial ski areas: Treble Cone, Cardrona, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. If you ask any local (who knows how to rip the sh!t out of it), they’ll send you straight to Treble Cone. Treble Cone is know for getting the best and most snow in the region (5.5 meters of snowfall with an average maximum snow depth of 3.5 meters) and has the best expert terrain. They run a pretty awesome deal with Jucy Rentals where you get to ski for free for up to 6 consecutive days if you rent a car – https://www.jucy.co.nz/ski4free
Once you have your skiing legs back after some resort skiing days, it’s time to pack up the car and make your way to the legendary Canterbury club fields. These primitive, bare bones ski areas are scattered around the northern part of the South Island and are a truly unique skiing experience. You won’t find any fancy frills at these club fields and most of them don’t even have chair lifts, but what you will find is a way to the top of the mountain, amazing uncrowded terrain, and the real soul of skiing. The club fields usually have modest ski in/ski out accommodation with a kitchen and bar to share stories of your epic day. They generally use a system of rope tows and a ‘nutcracker’ harness to get you to the top. It takes a bit of getting used to, but it becomes quite fun once you get the hang of it.
I’ve only personally experienced one club field, but the experience was so life changing, that I vowed to come back to the club fields every year if I could. I could go on and on about why they are so great, but I’ll leave that for another article. The best thing to do would be to just come and experience them for yourself. Just be warned, they are not for the faint of heart or the shitty skier.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes: