Skiing and Snow Boarding
New Zealand is a great place to snow ski and snowboard – and there are lots of snow fields to choose from – SO HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE RIGHT ONE FOR YOU?
Skiers and Snow Boarders fall into roughly three groups – Beginner, intermediate and advanced, and you could probably add professional level too.
LEARNING TO SKI –
A beginner is someone who has not skied at all, or skied maybe once or twice – so what you are looking for are
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SKI FIELD –
The best day to ski is when the sun is shining and the snow is soft powder snow (not too soft and not too hard) and certainly not ice – and those days do happen, but not always!
Most snow fields have a number of slopes – and degrees of difficulty – based on the width of the snow field, length of the ski runs and the gradient angles. The steeper the ski run slope the more suited it is to advanced skiers, and mostly this will be higher up the mountain. Advanced skiers even go heli-skiing to new fields, but probably leave that to the advanced skiers.
Almost certainly – there will also be more skiers on weekends than on weekdays – and having less skiers will mean smaller queues on chair lifts and more room for you to ski. Always ski with other people and don’t wander off on your own or away from where the people are. Sometimes when the cloud comes down low or there is fog and mist around, it can be easy to lose your bearings. Every year people get lost in the snow or hurt themselves, so always play it safe.
Planning your ski holiday –
There are three factors that are important – cost, time and distance from the snow.
WHERE TO SKI?
The above list of cost, distance and time will mostly help you decide where to ski – and also your own ability and knowledge of the ski fields where you have skied before.
The season will also help you decide – as each season differs in the amount of snow that falls and also when the first snow arrives and when the last big snowfall happens. The overall season in New Zealand lasts usually from early June to mid-October, with the best snow being in July-August. There can also be great snow in September too, so it is important to plan when you think and hope that the best snow will happen. You may have great luck, and you may not, but New Zealand is pretty consistent with good snow most years.
On the north Island there are the two ski fields – Whakapapa and Turoa on Mt Ruapehu.
In the South Island there are a number of Ski Fields -
There are lots of accommodation options in Queenstown, Wanaka, Christchurch, Methven, Twizel, Tekapo and Fairlie – and in all cases you should pre-book accommodation in the peak Ski Season. Also check to see when New Zealand has school holidays too – as these are times when lots more teenagers, small kids and family groups of skiers arrive to ski to the lifts can get busy and the slopes fill with more skiers and snowboarders. Also check what times Shuttles to and from the ski field operate from where you are staying- and the closeness or distance your lodge or accommodation is from the shuttle.
All of the Ski fields are in the Alps so surrounded by mountain peaks – so apart from the skiing there is the scenery, and of course a lot of skiers like to party too – so night life can be a lot of fun meeting new people and talking about the day’s skiing, the best runs, snow forecast and more.
There is also heli- skiing too – where a helicopter can take you to places high in the mountains to experience unique locations and ski runs that could only be accessed from the air. You can also just experience getting a bird’s eye view looking down at the mountains and not just up at them. Don’t forget your camera!
THE MACKENZIE HIGH COUNTRY – is also the place to go in Summertime – staying at any or all of the towns on the plains, at lodges, farm stays or other places that are open.
The mountain, lake and river scenery, and the remnants of snow in sheltered valleys and tops of the Alps are all here too – making the Southern Alps a great place to mountain bike, cycle, tramp (Trek) – and just enjoy the mountain air and atmosphere. The weather and the changes that happen can also add to the excitement of just being here.
Just one of the places to put on your list is Omarama (See www.omarama.co.nz) and a Clydesdale Horse Stud – See www.erewhonhorsestud.co.nz . Clydesdale Horses are the draught horses that were used before the age of tractors to pull wagons, ploughs and equipment – and to see these great horses still being used is a great sight and the Stud a great place to spend time.