You could follow the crowds to our famous ski resorts this winter. Or you can seek peace and quiet in one of South Canterbury’s underrated counterparts.
With well-groomed slopes to suit everyone from beginners to seasoned powder buffs, the region’s ski areas have a friendly, ultra-casual vibe that can be hard to find at some larger ski resorts. Here are a few worth adding to your bucket list.
Roundhill Ski Area
Soak up views of Aoraki/Mt Cook, the Southern Alps and Lake Tekapo as you ski or snowboard on well-groomed slopes – or head up the world’s longest and steepest drag lift to 783m drop.
Just 20 miles from Lake Tekapo Township, this commercial ski area caters to all abilities, from little ones in their first ski boots to adventurous freestylers.
* Waitaki: New Zealand’s hidden lake region
* New Zealand’s best winter towns: where to go in August for a last-minute getaway
* 100 epic ways to enjoy winter in New Zealand
You can rent your equipment and take lessons if you wish, or go alone to the huge beginner’s area. The T-bars provide access to wide intermediate trails with plenty of dips and curves to keep things interesting while from the drop off you’ll find natural half pipes, chutes and access to a large area of the trail. ‘countryside. Freestylers should head to Central Park for boxes, jumps, rails and rollerblades.
Mount Dobson Ski Area
Loved for its all-day sunshine, this family-friendly ski area in the Two Thumb Range of the Southern Alps features New Zealand’s largest beginner and intermediate area.
The huge natural half-pipe is a major asset, as well as the kilometers of fresh, untraced snow.
Rarely crowded, the happy mix of gentle, groomed runs and off-piste in this laid-back ski area attracts skiers and snowboarders of all ages and skill levels.
A triple chair, T-bar, riser and learning rope city make it easy to get around.
Overlooking the bright blue Lake Ōhau, this hidden gem of a ski area is small but uncrowded – unlike New Zealand’s better-known ski areas, you won’t find yourself fighting over fees.
About 45 minutes from Twizel, Ōhau offers a learning zone with magic carpet, an intermediate boulevard and hiking opportunities for the advanced.
Check in to Lake Ōhau Lodge for ultimate convenience – you can take a bus directly to the ski area. Book a room with a view of Aoraki/Mt Cook if you can, so you can soothe your aching muscles in a hot spa.
Fox Peak Ski Area
This non-profit, club-run ski area on the Two Thumb Range, 25 miles from Fairlie, is huge and uncrowded.
The well-maintained learning area features a specially designed slope, while four drag lifts lift skiers and snowboarders 580m up a wide, steep mountain face that descends into bowls and drops on either side.
Hidden at the top of the mountain, the south basin offers powder runs and unmarked falls.
For a super easy weekend, book into Fox Lodge, which sits amongst the pine trees just below the base area. Choose between a family room or a bunk room and make the most of the hot showers, cozy kitchen and common area.
Fancy skiing or snowboarding in fresh powder on what feels like your own private mountain? You might like to try heliskiing. The two operators below offer adventures worthy of the word epic.
Catch a chopper to the Arrowsmith Glacier Range for pristine snow as far as the eye can see. Make a day of it or sign up for a multi-day ski or snowboard experience you won’t forget. See: methvenheli.co.nz
Mount Cook Heliski
Ski through a wilderness of ancient glaciers, stark blue lakes and endless runs with this small operator based in Mt Cook. Spanning six mountain ranges, its territory includes the Ben Ohau Range overlooking the milky blue Lake Pukaki and exclusive terrain within the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park. See: mtcookheliski.co.nz
Stay safe: New Zealand is currently under Covid-19 restrictions. Follow the instructions on covid19.govt.nz.