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With more than 25 ski areas covering both the North and South Islands, New Zealand is a mind-blowing ski destination. Whether it's prime season in the heart of Winter or you're looking for inspiration outside of peak times, there's more than enough here to keep everyone entertained. It's here that beginners mix with experts and skiers share the thrills with snowboarders and tobogganers. Planning ahead and booking online for a ski pass as 'early bird' specials are often available – so keep your eyes peeled. Thinking about your accommodation choices is another aspect to a perfect ski break. New Zealand is a breathtakingly beautiful country in which to hit the slopes – so start planning, dreaming and doing. It's all right in front of you.
Photo: © Destination Queenstown
Found in the central North Island, Ohakune comes alive in winter as a popular hub for skiers and snowboarders. Its location is ideal for making the climb to one of two ski fields on nearby Mt Ruapehu, which both have some great drawcards. The south-west facing Turoa boasts the country's biggest vertical drop and plenty of open slopes and challenging chutes, while Whakapapa is New Zealand's largest ski area. With snow-related events throughout the ski season - perhaps highlighted by the Ruapehu Mountain Mardi Gras - it's advisable to find a place to stay well in advance. There's plenty to choose from, with lodges and chalets among the cosy accommodation options. Several beautiful walks and a vibrant dining scene add to Ohakune's appeal.
Just like Ohakune, National Park Village is perfect for hitting the slopes of Turoa and Whakapapa ski fields on Mt Ruapehu. But that's not its only attraction. National Park Village is central for planning a Tongariro Alpine Crossing trek or enjoying a scenic flight over the North Island's highest peaks. Kayaking, quad biking and river rafting are other options for the adventurous traveller. After a busy day you can soak up some awesome views at several restaurants, while the accommodation range is impressive.
When planning a trip to the South Island's ski fields, Christchurch is well worth keeping in mind. It can certainly claim to be the gateway to the region's slopes with no less than 10 ski fields within a 2.5-hour drive of it. A vibrant city with an impressive collection of activities and attractions, Christchurch is a great starting point to become acquainted with the area before hitting the snow. Accommodation is in abundance here - perfect for recharging the batteries before the excitement begins.
At the heart of seven ski areas, it is hardly surprising that Methven/Mount Hutt Village attracts thousands of visitors each year, many from overseas. This is the base for some of Australasia's best snow and is renowned for its brilliant heli-skiing terrain. But it's not just the snow that draws a crowd to Methven, located just an hour's drive from Christchurch. The selection of activities is impressive too; jet boating, horse riding, tramping and hunting are just some but for magical views hot-air ballooning is sublime. And the enviable diversity continues with the accommodation - from hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts, the choices are endless.
This is the place to come for seriously insane skiing and snowboarding as Queenstown turns on a world-class show in winter. It's the logical base for three top-notch ski fields; the Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Cardrona are all easily accessible from Queenstown, as is the Waiorau Snow Farm. The Queenstown Winter Festival, which runs from late June to early July, kicks-off a season of full-on fun and excitement. And if the snow is not enough fun for you, then remember Queenstown is the Adventure Capital of the World. Bungy jumping, jet boating, white-water rafting, skydiving and canyon swinging are all synonymous with this resort town. With all this activity make sure you plan your Queenstown accommodation in advance.
Set on the shores of the beautiful Lake Wanaka, this ski resort town oozes appeal. Some impressive slopes are accessed with ease from this destination; Treble Cone, Cardrona, Snow Park and Waiorau Snow Farm are all world-class options. Accommodation is sure to be at a premium when national snowboard and skiing championships are held from July to October. And with a happening café and bar scene, and plenty of sightseeing and hiking opportunities, Wanaka is a people magnet in the cooler months.