On-Piste: The Ultimate Guide To New Zealand's Ski Resorts

Top of ski mountain with chairlift

3.13min read

Published 26 May 2020


New Zealand is home to some of the best ski fields and resorts in the world. From bustling snow resorts to small ski club fields, NZ slopes offer up a diverse range of skiing trips for the ultimate winter getaway. This guide will offer an extensive look into some of New Zealand’s best ski field destinations, accommodations and experiences to help inspire the ultimate alpine holiday tailored to your desires.

Mt Ruapehu

Mt Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park. Photo: Shutterstock

The North Island’s Mt Ruapehu is home to two of the biggest commercial ski areas in New Zealand. An hour and 30 minutes’ drive from Lake Taupo, Mt Ruapehu is the perfect long weekend getaway for first time skiers looking to up their experience, or a fun family holiday adventure with the kids.

Situated on the northern side of the mountain is Whakapapa. Known for its extensive beginner’s area Happy Valley, this ski field is popular among kids, families and first-timers.

Whakapapa’s sister field, Turoa, sits on the southwest side of Mt Ruapehu. Known for having the longest vertical ski run in New Zealand, this ski resort caters to both intermediate and advanced skiers as well as a couple of beginner areas for those needing a bit of practice.

Where to eat: For a laid-back bite and refreshment, look no further than Schuss Haus Corona Bar, the perfect adults hang out spot after a day out on the slopes to relax and unwind.

What to do: Ride the country’s most advanced gondola Sky Waka high above the world heritage-listed mountain area. For a break off the slopes, experience phenomenal landscape, and an unforgettable dining experience with the family.

Coronet Peak, Queenstown

Skiing at Coronet Peak, in Queenstown NZ. Photo: Shutterstock

Coronet Peak is known as one of the best all-round ski resorts in Queenstown. It is ideal for families and groups with mixed skiing experience. Only 20 minutes from central Queenstown, Coronet Peak is the ultimate ski destination for a winter getaway. If you love racing through the snow under the stars, Coronet Peak is also the home of night ski, a bucket list winter activity after the sun goes down in Queenstown.

Where to eat: Located at the base of the Rocky Gully T-bar, Heidi’s Hut is a local secret for an Italian-style Après experience with a special selection of local Amisfield wine and craft beer. For some big beats, epic views and cold beverages, head to the Ice Bar to rest your legs at the halfway stop and take in the good vibes.

What to do: In between hitting the slopes, take a family visit to the charming and quirky Arrowtown, a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River.

Remarkables, Queenstown

Chairlift at the Remarkables Ski Resort, Queenstown: Shutterstock

A 40-minute drive from downtown Queenstown, Remarkables is a wonderful ski resort for freestyle skiers who can’t get enough of the terrain park. With three parks to jib and jub through, the Remarkables is a no-brainer for adrenaline junkies.

Where to eat: Visit the acclaimed Ice Bar on the mountain at Curvey Basin Junction for an après ski beverage, or take a 10-minute trip into town to grab one of Queenstown’s famous Fergburgers for a gourmet feed.

What to do: Check out Gibbston Valley Winery, pioneers of the Central Otago wine region. 10 minutes away from the Remarkables ski area, this winery is home to a bistro-style restaurant, tasting room, the country’s largest wine cav, a luxury lodge and spa and even a bike hire centre.

Cardrona Alpine Resort, Wanaka

Cardrona Hotel & Pub. Photo: Shutterstock

Located about halfway between Wanaka and Queenstown, Cardrona Alpine Resort is one of New Zealand’s most popular ski fields in New Zealand. Best for beginner skiers and families with young children, there are plenty of gentle slopes to choose from and the resort offers childcare, lessons and even a club with activities specifically for kids.

Where to eat: Rumored to be the most photographed building in New Zealand, the Cardrona Hotel is a must visit. Situated on the spectacular Crown Range road between Queenstown and Wanaka, the in-house bar and restaurant serves traditional pub favorites with a twist.

What to do: When your legs need a break from the skis check out Cardona’s Snow Farm for some family fun. Tobogganing, tubing, flat tyre bikes, snow shoeing, dog sledding, and overnight back country hut stays, the options are endless.

Mt Hutt, Canterbury

Mt Hutt and the Canterbury countryside of NZ. Photo: Shutterstock

With the longest ski season in the country, Mt Hutt boasts the title of NZ’s best ski resort (for 5 years running!). With five ski lifts that cater from beginners to advanced skiers, any day spent on the mountain is sure to be a win. This ski resort showcases the very best of New Zealand’s high country and is a must-see destination for any Kiwi.

Where to eat: Hubers Hut offers the only Canterbury a la carte dining experience on the mountain. Choose a spot by the roaring fire for an early breakfast before you kickstart the day, or a mulled wine to watch the sunset over the New Zealand high country.

What to do: Visit the world-class golf course at Terrace Downs voted the top golf resort in New Zealand in the 2010 World Travel Awards. Follow your round of golf with a 5-star dining experience serving signature high country cuisine. They also offer horse riding and archery for some fun for the whole family. 

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