Winter is a wonderful time to travel in New Zealand, especially for true mountain enthusiasts with a love of fresh white snow. From the volcanic slopes of the North Island to the majestic Southern Alps on the South Island, there are excellent ski fields dotted across the country with plenty of options to appeal to every level of skier and snowboarder. Best of all, you can hit some of the best fields using your Stray pass and complete the ultimate NZ ski tour!
Your Stray guide to the New Zealand ski areas:
#1) Best (and Only) Ski Area on the North Island – Mt Ruapehu
Stray stop: Tongariro National Park
Located in the heart of the North Island, Mt Ruapehu offers you the chance to ski and snowboard on one of the active volcanoes in Tongariro National Park. Hit the Turoa area on the southwest side for Australiasia’s biggest vertical drop and big open runs or head to Whakapapa on the northern side for a dramatic volcanic feel.
#2) Best Mountain for Beginners – Cardrona
Stray stop: Wanaka or Queenstown
Cardrona offers plenty of open gentle terrain and some of the most reliable snow in NZ. It’s the perfect mountain for newbies, but there are appealing options for every level of skier and rider. Best of all, Cardrona offers special packages to Stray travellers with everything you need to hit the slopes, including transport, lift passes, gear hire and clothing. Just speak to your driver!
#3) Best Field for Experts – Treble Cone
Stray stop: Wanaka
Largest of the South Island’s ski areas and popular with the locals, Treble Cone has an international reputation amongst advanced skiers and boarders thanks to its challenging, steep terrain. If you classify yourself as an expert, don’t miss the narrow chutes and massive drops of Motatapu Basin.
#4) Best for Night Skiing – Coronet Peak
Stray stop: Queenstown
Coronet Peak has a lot going for it. Not only is it the closest ski area to Queenstown, there’s a dedicated beginner and novice area, plenty of well groomed trails for more experienced riders and it is one of the only places you can go night skiing.
#5) Best Freestyle Terrain Areas – The Remarkables
Stray stop: Queenstown
Just across the valley from Coronet Peak on sunny north-facing slopes, The Remarkables lives up to the name. It’s a great area for beginners looking to improve their skills, but the three dedicated natural terrain parks are the real draw cards if you want a freestyle experience.
Best time to travel for snow sports:
If you are planning a snow-focused trip to NZ the best time to travel is between July and September. If you have plenty of time on your hands (or one of those handy year-long working holiday visas) start your travels in the North over summer and migrate to the South Island for the winter season. Remember that Stray passes are valid for up to 12 months, so we’ve got you covered no matter what time of year you travel!