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13 February, 2019 - Updated Last updated on
10 February, 2022

Posted by Spaceships Crew

For those who enjoy winter sports, New Zealand should be on your list of places to visit. Its majestic mountains and glaciers provide excellent locations for winter sports of all sorts. New Zealand is composed of several islands, the largest being the South and North Islands, which both have ski and winter sports areas. Skiing in New Zealand runs from July to the end of September each year, due to its location on the Southern hemisphere.

North Island winter sport areas

There are several ski areas on the North Island.

  1. The most popular resort, especially for families is at Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand's Tongariro National Park.
  2. Whakapapa ski area, besides having a name kids love, is where most New Zealanders learn to ski. This ski field is divided into three areas of difficulty. Beginners have 25%, medium range skiers 50% and advanced skiers 25% of the total ski area. The ski area has instructors available for all visitors who need to brush up on their technique.
  3. Mount Ruapehu also has a second ski area known as Turoa. This field has beginner to advanced slopes also but has a number of cross-country ski runs. This area was once a logging centre, and many of the trails are now used for winter sports. Skiers can reach the top of several mountains in this area. Accommodations and dining are available in the resort area.
  4. Manganui ski area is on Mount Egmont. This is a ski club, which means it is more limited than other resorts. This area does not offer lessons and is really for intermediate and advanced skiers. This area has two half-pipes and sometimes is closed due to lack of snow during the season. This ski area is less crowded with tourists but does have a hostel on-site to stay in.

Snowboarding in New Zealand is allowed at most ski fields and many have areas set aside for snow sledging and tube runs. All areas have lifts to the ski areas.

Check out our North Island ski fields & itineraries to enjoy the snow fun.

South Island: skiing and snowboarding

South Island is much larger than North Island, yet only about 25% of the population of New Zealand lives here. This is due to its more mountainous areas, which that there are heaps of opportunities for skiing and snowboarding in winter. Bring on the fun.


The best skiing in New Zealand, South Island is situated near Queenstown in the Otago area. Six sporting areas are available here, with the Cardona resort being the most popular. This is a family oriented ski area, complete with lessons and other activities for kids. Snowboarding in New Zealand is popular here. This is a limited amount of expert skiing here. Coronet Peak features uneven terrain that will challenge the beginner. Trible Cone at Wanaka is a less crowded ski area which many newer skiers enjoy. For those looking for backcountry skiing in this area, the top sites are Craigieburn and the Broken River ski fields.

Lake Tekapo

The Lake Tekapo area is another excellent place to ski. This area is more elevated than the ski areas around Queenstown. Round Hill is the choice for families and groups that have experienced and new skiers. Round Hill has everything needed to equip the skier or snowboarder and send them on their way. If you are more experienced and prefer a less crowded option in the area, Mount Dobson or the Oahu resort are good choices. For those that are experienced and want a challenge, the Fox ski fields will give you all you want and more.

Winter road trip fun at Mt Dobson Ski Area

Winter road trip fun at Mt Dobson Ski Area: skiing in NZ

Mount Cook glacier skiing

The Mount Cook area, the highest mountain in New Zealand also has ski areas. It is often thought that these are very steep and not for the newbie. As a matter of fact, you don't have to be an expert to ski the Tasman Glacier. The skiing terrain is ideal for intermediate skiers.

Canterbury: even more ski areas

The best start of any adventure-packed road trip is Christchurch in the Canterbury region. This region is also known as the region that was referred to as the best trip destinations for 2019 in the category of adventure by National Geographic.

Canterbury has more ski areas up on offer, it isn't just the Lake Tekapo or Mount Cook area. Make sure to check out these Canterbury ski areas as well.

  • Mt Hutt - This is Canterbury's largest ski area and is just a 90 minutes drive from Christchurch. It's the perfect ski field do skiers of all levels, from beginners to advanced.
  • Hanmer Springs - famous for its thermal pools, Hanmer Springs also offer ski & snowboard fun in winter.
  • The Selwyn 6 - Ssssst these 6 ski areas are Canterbury's best-kept secret. Perfect skiing right on Christchurch's doorstep. 

Check out our South Island ski fields & itineraries to enjoy the snow fun.

Winter road trip coffee

Enjoying scenery and coffee or soup on your winter road trip

Now you know: NZ is an amazing winter destination

New Zealand truly is a year-round destination. Even though heaps of travellers think that spring or summer is the best time to visit Middle Earth aka New Zealand. Winter is a great time to visit New Zealand. Even if you're not into skiing or snowboarding, the country has so much to offer. And no worries, it isn't as cold as you might expect from winter back home (more info about winter and the weather).

Need some roof racks for your ski or snowboard gear on your road trip? Bring your own or ask the Spaceships crew where to hire them. Easy as.

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