Top Ski Spots in New Zealand

New Zealand is a country of extremes, with high snowy peaks and lush green valleys and forests. New Zealand's mountains experience particularly long winters due to their weather changing terrain, and with these long winters comes snow - a lot of snow. The ski culture is vibrant, with locals and international travellers spending months in the mountains to make the most of the impressive ski spots. There are dozens of ski resorts throughout the country,i providing hundreds of kilometres of ski slopes. There are skiing options on both the north and south islands, fitting in with whatever else you want to do in New Zealand.

The ski season typically runs from June to October on both islands, with the North Island starting and finishing ski season fractionally later than the South Island. There are slopes and experience levels to suit everyone, from first-time skiers to seasoned experts. You will find qualified instructors at each of the south island's resorts, offering group and private lessons. There is no need to bring your own equipment with ski and gear rental available at the resorts - but it is best to bring some warm clothes of your own, with average temperatures ranging from -4 to -10 degrees Celsius during the winter.

The North Island is more known for its snowy peaks, while the South is more for its open snow-covered terrain. It's purely subjective as to which you prefer. Along with the skiing, these resorts provide world-class dining, hiking spots, the best of New Zealand wine and 5-star accommodation. Here we will cover some of the top ski spots in New Zealand, offering the best overall ski and snowboard experience. 

Cardrona slopes

Located just north of Queenstown, past Arrowtown, around a 45-minute drive, is Cardrona, one of the South Island's most popular ski fields and resorts. Cardrona caters for every ability level, offering lessons for youngsters as young as 3 months. Private and group lessons are available, as well as a Kids Club and a Ski Kindergarten. Cardona is fantastic for sightseeing, with the Cardrona Gondola (McDougall's Express Chondola) being a perfect option to see it all. The panoramic views from inside the gondola cars are as breathtaking as anywhere else in the park, so you don't even have to hit the slopes to get an amazing mountain view. With an average snowfall of 2.9 metres and the highest lift point of 1860 metres, Cardrona offers everything you need from a top-quality ski resort. You also have eight separate locations to eat at, ranging from casual to fine dining.


Moving up to the North Island, we have Whakapapa, located close to the heart of the North Island and just south of Lake Taupo. This area is more remote than most ski resorts, so the nightlife and non-skiing options are more limited compared to most areas in the country, but what it lacks in that regard it makes up for in skiing quality and size. Whakapapa and Mt Ruapehu are one of New Zealand's largest ski areas and home to the longest sky gondola in New Zealand, the Sky Waka. The Sky Waka offers incredible views along its 1.8-kilometre route, offering views of the remote areas of the rugged north island. Cradle over waterfalls, through clouds, ancient lava, and up to 2,020 metres above sea level. At 550 hectares of skiing and snowboarding terrain, Whakapapa offers large stretches for every skill level, with 30% of the terrain designated for beginners and 45% and 25% for intermediate and advanced.

Coronet Peak chairlift
Coronet Peak

Not far from Cardrona, also just outside Queenstown (making Queenstown perhaps the best ski location in New Zealand) is Coronet Peak, just a 20-minute drive from the outskirts of the town. Coronet Peak has more inconsistent snowfall than Cardrona, so you will want to look online first to see what the conditions are, even during ski season. Coronet Peak is New Zealand's first commercial ski area, with a history stretching back to 1947. With options ranging from a one-day lift pass to a Superpass, allowing you entry to any of the three mountains. With shops and restaurants on the mountain, there's plenty to keep you busy if you take a day off from the slopes.

Wherever you decide to ski in New Zealand, you're bound to have a great time, with world-class slopes, restaurants and ski facilities. Choosing to stay close to a city has its benefits, such as the many ski locations outside Queenstown or the ski resorts west of Christchurch but choosing to go into a more remote area such as the central part of the North Island has its own benefits of rugged views of untouched wilderness. New Zealand's roads make all these locations reachable with a rental car, so start planning your journey today.

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