[sponsored by Treble Cone, NZ]
South America gets a lot of the summer skiing glory but New Zealand has just as much on offer. New Zealand has some of the best terrain and epic mountains you’ll ever see. Not to mention the fact that in most places, you can ride, surf and do a variety of other sports throughout the winter months. Multi sport days are a way of life in New Zealand, and while there’s lots on offer in terms of ski resorts (or ski fields, as the Kiwis call them), on both the South and North Island, if you’re looking to shred big-mountain-style terrain, fantastic snow and enjoy some of the best views you’ll ever see, go south to Treble Cone.
Located far above the shores of Lake Wanaka deep in the heart of the South Island,Treble Cone has to top the list for those looking to shred some of the best natural freeride terrain in the world. It’s riddled with chutes, gullies, natural airs and pipe features. It’s a short drive through the mountains from the town of Wanaka, which if you’ve never been, is what you would imagine the perfect ski town to be. Right on the shores of Lake Wanaka, it’s got character, isn’t over developed and has a down to earth ski vibe that will make you want to move there the moment you get into town.
Treble Cone has two main lifts and boasts just over 2300 feet of vertical with limitless backcountry potential. There’s a reason the New Zealand Freeride Team is based there during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter months. Almost half the terrain at TC is advanced terrain; this place is built for the big mountain shredder. On a pow day, the Motatapu Basin, one of the advanced ‘slackcountry’ areas just off the Saddle Basin Chair is a double black playland of chutes, cliffs, gullies and sendy lines; it’s kind of like having a Freeski World Tour venue all to yourself.
Another awesome spot is the Matukituki Basin, which overlooks Mt Aspiring National Park and Lake Wanaka. The views up here are fantastic but what really stands out is something unique to Treble Cone in the world of skiing: tussock shredding. Tussock are grasses that grow in clumps and in the Matukituki Basin, these big clumps of grasses poke out of the snow and make for a natural terrain park. You see, there aren’t any rocks down below the snow, it’s just these big clumps of Tussock, so on a pow day, they make for launch pads. You can combine thigh deep turns with playful airs off the Tussock grasses and it’s one of the more unique skiing experiences you’ll ever have. You’ll find yourself laughing as you wind your way through what is basically a snow obstacle course. Oh, and the terrain is steep and deep to boot.
Despite the fact that it’s the largest resort in the South Island, Treble Cone has a down to earth vibe that’s dedicated solely to those who love the shred. Sure, it gets busy on weekends when there’s a foot a fresh on the ground, but it’s nothing like the mega resorts of the Western US. It’s a local affair and you’ll find yourself making fast friends and getting local rippers to show you the ropes in no time.
So this summer, if you’re into stomping big lines, skiing deep snow and want to experience a mountain town as it should be, head to Lake Wanaka and Treble Cone. You’ll want to stay for as long as you can.
Be safe, ski hard.