Check out some of our favorite ski fields around the Christchurch and Canterbury area:
Porters is one of the larger commercial ski areas with a chairlift and 3 consecutive T-bars to take you skyward with views to Lake Coleridge and Mt Olympus from the top. Not only is Porters the closest ski area to Christchurch (89km) but the access road is also short, well maintained, and suitable for 2WD vehicles. If snow’s fallen and chains are required there’s a free shuttle that operates from the bottom of the access road, booking is essential, see skiporters.co.nz for details. Once at the top there are all the facilities you’d expect at a large commercial ski area including a fully licensed café with espresso coffee, full equipment hire and a range of professional lessons.
Porter’s terrain park is one of the best, providing features for everyone from new comers to seasoned jibbers.
A few regulars are given the honour of ‘Mountain Hosts’ and are more than happy to help out if you’re looking for some local knowledge. If you want a few tips from them keep an eye out for the orange jackets.
Ideal for – beginner to advanced.
Tows - 1 Chairlift, 2 T Bars, 1 Platter (intermediate), and 1 Ski-Mat Magic Carpet.
Elevation - 1980m
Lift-accessed Terrain – 285ha
Vertical drop - 620m
Mt Hutt isn’t just Canterbury’s own “big mountain” – it’s also one of New Zealand’s largest ski areas with some of the best natural snow around.
With an altitude of 2086m and a skiable area of 365 hectares, Mt Hutt has one of the longest vertical drops in the South Island and the greatest variety of terrain.
It also comes with spectacular views – on a clear day from the summit you can see the Pacific Ocean in one direction and into the heart of the Southern Alps in the other.
Just a 35-minute drive from Methven village, Mt Hutt is renowned for its big snow. Great natural snow is captured in its south facing basin and combined with 75 snow guns, Mt Hutt consistently has one of the longest snow seasons in the South Island.
Featuring modern chair lifts and world-class facilities, the ski area is perfect for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. Beginners feel just as comfortable on wide, groomed runs as the freestyle enthusiasts are on terrain parks, or the world-class athletes who train at the international race arena.
Rental services, fully licensed café and restaurant, lessons and childcare services available.
Ideal for – beginner to advanced. Longest run 2km
Tows - 1 high speed six seater chairlift, 1 quad and 1 triple chairlift, 1 Ski-Mat Magic Carpet.
Elevation - 1980m
Lift-accessed Terrain – 285ha
Vertical drop - 620m
BR, as it’s known to the locals, has a friendly atmosphere, social & sunny day lodge and great terrain. Add to that the quirky access via an alpine railway and you’ve got something quite unique. The day lodge is a great place to relax and watch the action. There is some beginner terrain and plenty of variety for intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders.
From the main road, the access road takes you up through picturesque Beech Forest to the main Hanomag car park. There you can choose to walk up the foot track or take the express route skyward. The Tyndall Tramway, NZ’s only alpine railway, quickly transports you and your gear up through the Beech Forest to the ticket office and accommodation. The 4-minute ride up not only saves you a 20-minute walk but provides fantastic views cross to the Torlesse Range.
You will need to bring your own ski or snowboard gear but you can rent a tow belt or ski harness at the Ticket Office. From there you’ve got a short hike up the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ to the access tow. This tow is a little sporting for beginners but it’s worth a crack and it can be slowed down at the press of a button.
The main field is a feature-filled basin with plenty of great intermediate and advanced terrain. There are also two learner tows near the day lodge. The Access/Rugby Tow can be floodlit for night skiing. Strong skiers and snowboarders will find great terrain off the ridge and even more in the adjoining bowl. Allan’s Basin is accessed by a ridge tow and once you’ve enjoyed its thrills there is a track back to the main field via the saddle above the access tow.
When it’s time to refuel either pick up a snack from the canteen or join other amateur chefs on the communal hot plate located on the sunny Palmer Lodge deck. Even if you don’t have the gourmet burger, wild venison or some other mouth-watering morsel for the hot plate you can at least purchase BR’s own boutique lager to make your lunch feel gourmet.
Tows – 3 high-capacity rope tows and 2 learner tows
Ski Terrain – 175ha
Vertical – 500m
Scheduled night skiing on Access / Rugby tow
Grooming – beginner runs (known as an off piste area)
Accessed from the Great Alpine Highway 73, Craigieburn Valley Ski Area (CV) is a skiers and snowboarder’s paradise. It consists of two large basins that encompass a diverse range of intermediate and advanced terrain from wide open powder bowls to steep and technical chutes. The terrain on offer is equal to some of the best in the world.
The 6km beech clad access road is as scenic as it is easy to navigate. A 2WD with chains can drive all the way to the car park most days. You’ll find the first rope tow just a short walk from the on-mountain accommodation, car park and ticket office. Without having to unclip or unbind, two more rope tows take you all the way to the ridgeline. The tows are easy to master but a little rope tow experience is a definite advantage.
While the bar at the main lodge (Koroheke) provides the perfect spot for a post-skiing drink, the on-field day lodge (Whakamaru) provides both shelter from a storm and on a fine day a sunny deck where you can enjoy lunch.
Whether you’re looking for a canteen snack or kitchen fare the cafe caters for both. Whakamaru Day Lodge sits between the two basins, providing a great view of the whole ski area. Following the ridge behind the lodge leads to the Kea Chutes which are often overlooked but regularly offer some of the best skiing on the mountain.
Craigieburn is the only mountain in New Zealand to offer inbound tree skiing, it’s not quite the same as the Northern Hemisphere but it definitely provides a change of scenery and unique lines to explore.
Ideal for – Intermediate to Expert
Tows – 3 rope tows
Elevation – 1811m
Ski Terrain – over 100ha
Vertical – 500m
Hanmer Springs Ski Area, formerly known as Amuri, is a small club ski area with a tonne of personality and terrain suitable for all abilities. A long Poma lift and a rope tow accesses wide-open runs, both groomed and ungroomed. Beginners are well catered to and a fixed grip rope tow provides the perfect stepping stone to the longer lifts. If you’re travelling or new to the sport they have on mountain gear rental and lessons for all abilities.
A cosy on mountain lodge provides the perfect spot for lunch if it’s too cold to sit on the sunny deck overlooking the slopes. The ski area is only a 17km drive on a well maintained gravel road from Hanmer Springs. Remember your togs for a relaxing soak at the hot pools on the way home.
Ideal for – beginner to advanced.
- 1 long poma (807m),
- 1 nutcracker rope tow,
- 1 beginners fixed grip tow
Elevation - 1769m
Ski Terrain – 52ha
Vertical - 310m
Terrain Park - Natural hits, tables pushed up on request, talk to the staff!
Cheeseman has a distinctive family friendly atmosphere as well as offering diverse terrain for all abilities and loads of great facilities. The main runs are accessed by 2 T-bars lifts and there are easy trails down courtesy of extensive grooming.
Located only 90 minutes drive from Christchurch on the Great Alpine Highway just past Castle Hill Village, the access road is suitable for 2WD vehicles with chains. You can drive right to the base of the ski area where you’ll find the day lodge with the licenced Cockayne Café, ticket office, gear hire and plenty of storage for bags etc. The sunny deck out front is perfect to watch the on-slope action from. The learners rope tow is located immediately in front of the day lodge, so the deck is also a great spot to watch the kids once they’ve found their feet while you enjoy a fresh espresso coffee.
The top of the Main T-bar lift has plenty of wide open groomed slopes ideal for practicing your technique. The Ridge T-bar lift takes you to the top offering challenging off-piste skiing with spectacular views. Those after a powder fix can head to the shaded face below Mt Cockayne or along Ridge Run to Sunny Face. For the adventurous, the Ridge T-Bar lift also offers access to Tarn Basin, a popular touring option outside the ski area boundary for backcountry enthusiasts.
Ideal for – beginner to adventurous and families.
Tows - 2 T Bars and 1 learners tow
Elevation – 1540 - 1860m
Vertical – 320m
Grooming overnight and terrain park features.
Located on State Highway 70, smack bang between Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura, Mt Lyford is a fun and friendly family operated ski area for all abilities. The upper slopes bask in sunshine and in recent years it’s consistently been the first to open. It’s an uncrowded mountain and a favourite of locals and Christchurch residents alike. A fleet of groomers keep the piste in great condition and wide open faces let you open up your riding on powder days.
A variety of lifts service the area, including a long fixed-grip rope tow for first timers. Two platters service either side of Paradise Valley and a T-bar opens up plenty of sunny groomed slopes. For those wanting a powder fix the Terako Rope Tow offers 450m of vertical drop. From the top of Mt Terako there’s a choice of an intermediary sunny slope which is a great pick in spring or the slightly more challenging shady side leading back to Paradise Valley.
If you make the mistake of leaving home without your skis never fear, the rental centre can kit you out. The Terako Day Lodge and Chamois Café provide a great spot for lunch and oozes character with the exposed timber beams a focal point.
The access road ascends through native Black Beech and Totora Forest, providing amazing views over the Amuri Plains. A 2WD with chains and a competent driver is all that’s required, but if you’re unsure you can jump on board the low cost shuttles leaving Mt Lyford Lodge and Reserve (by the access gate), booking is essential.
Ideal for – Beginner to Advanced
Lifts – 1 Rope Tow, 1 T-Bar, 2 Platters, 1 Learners Fixed Grip.
Elevation – 1750m
Vertical – 350m
Terrain Park – Wild Ride Terrain Park (kickers, rails) plus natural terrain
Grooming – All main learner and intermediate runs groomed daily
Mt Olympus, run by the Windwhistle Winter Sports Club (WWSC), is one of those ski areas with an impressive reputation. The terrain is amazing, the access road an adventure, the coffee is good and it boasts the highest hot tub in NZ. The ski area is proudly groomer free so it’s best to keep an eye on the weather to ensure you take the correct weapons from your quiver. The rope tows are nestled within a south facing basin which ensures it receives plenty of powder days.
Getting there will take the unprepared by surprise. The road to the bottom hut is manageable in a 2WD vehicle but often requires chains. The road from the bottom hut to the ski area car park is a little sporting and a high-ground clearance 4WD with chains on board is required. If your car, or nerves aren’t up for this final leg, simply wait at the bottom hut and catch a ride with one of the regulars.
The terrain at Mt Olympus is suited to intermediate snow lovers through to the advanced. There’s a great learners area but it requires an adventurous beginner to conquer the access tow or complete the hike there. Those prepared to go for a hike or ski tour are rewarded the most as there’s plenty of terrain to explore.
Ideal for – adventurous beginner to expert.
Tows - 3 rope tows and 1 learners tow (100% green powered).
Elevation - 1875m
Vertical - 450m
Night skiing (subject to weather and snow conditions) with a great sound system
For those in the know Mt Dobson is an under-rated gem. Firstly, it’s big. A triple-seater chairlift and a T-bar access two massive valleys and come powder days a short traverse or walk will ensure you score fresh tracks all day long. It’s also high, boasting the highest car park in the Southern Hemisphere at 1725m. The road is an engineering feat that has been lovingly crafted and cared for by one man, Peter Foote. It’s wide and suitable for 2WD’s with chains.
The ski area itself is made up of wide pistes, gullies, rock outcrops and natural features. For those that like to get a little jibby you’ll find some boxes, kickers and rails scattered around the place. For learners the deal is even sweeter, the fixed grip rope tow is free! Once you’ve mastered the fixed grip rope tow there’s a learner’s platter to provide a stepping stone to the chairlift accessed cat tracks.
If you’re travelling and are looking to score some tracks in the Mackenzie Region there’s no need to hire elsewhere, they have gear rental available on the mountain. They also offer a range of group or private lessons and learner packages.
If hunger sets in and you haven’t brought lunch, head for the hut at the bottom of the field. A cafeteria provides hot and cold food, drinks and snacks. Despite being a commercial operation, Mt Dobson has an intimate, friendly feel. The chairlift, great terrain, easy access and extensive grooming combine for a great all round experience.Terrain –
Ideal for – beginner to advanced.
learner’s rope tow.
Elevation – 2110m
Skiable terrain – 400 ha
Vertical drop – 415m
Terrain Park – Natural hits throughout the basin, natural half-pipe under the triple chair.
Grooming – 2 Kassborher groomers groom main runs.
Located on the Main Divide of the Southern Alps, Temple Basin is a ski area like no other. Temple Basin perches high up in an alpine environment, providing total detachment from ‘life in the fast lane’ but with all the comforts of home. If you’re thinking of taking a back country or avalanche course there is no better place to immerse yourself in a learning environment. Temple Lodge has a fully equipped lecture theatre where you can access the snow, terrain and weather patterns right from the doorstep.
Temple Basin is a rewarding and exhilarating place to stay, ski and ride. Like any good reward with skiing there is usually a hike involved. A ‘gondola’ (goodslift) can be found at the base, on the main highway, but it only carries your gear. With the weight off your shoulders the walk up to the Lodges should be a breeze. That’s right, there’s no access road so the 40-60 minute hike up will get the blood pumping and legs ready for skiing and riding.
Three rope tows service the ski area. Cassidy Tow is a great option for beginners and those of intermediate ability. Temple Tow is right in front of the main accommodation lodge and has night skiing. A short traverse from the top of the Temple Tow leads you to Downhill Tow, which is nestled under Mt Temple and accesses a large sunny basin. From Downhill the hiking and touring options are immense. The entire ski area is ungroomed so natural features and impressive rock formations make the skiing both challenging and rewarding. Hike to the summit of Mt Temple, Mt Phipps or B’Limit when conditions permit, and Bill’s Basin is a must.
Ideal for – very beginner to expert.
Tows - 3 rope tows Top Elevation - 1923m
Ski Terrain – 320 hectares
Vertical drop- 430m
Night skiing on Temple Tow
Fox Peak is one of the smaller ski clubs but one of the largest when it comes to its terrain and suitability for all skiing levels. Located 35 minutes from Fairlie, along the spectacular Two Thumb Range, the ski area boasts amazing views of South Canterbury and the Mackenzie Country.
Three easy-to-ride rope tows access 500 hectares and 580 vertical meters of uncrowded terrain. There is also a groomed platter lift for beginners at the base of the ski area. The terrain ranges from big wide-open faces, which are great for beginners and intermediates, to the more challenging runs in South Basin and along the North Basin Ridge.
For the more advanced, or those prepared to hike or tour, the options are boundless. Head to South Basin or up to the Peak and drop off towards the Tarn. Definitely talk to the locals, you may just find yourself on a guided tour.
The car park is located at the base of the tows allowing easy access to the beginner slopes and greater ski area. The field is run by a dedicated club and is open only on weekends. The access road crosses farm land, so be sure to leave gates as you find them.
Open Weekends (with some extensions - check 03 688 0044)
Tows – 3 rope tows / beginner/intermediate platter
Elevation - 1910m
Ski Terrain – 500+ha
Vertical - 580m
Grooming - Beginner and Intermediate slopes