Cardrona Alpine Resort at sunset. Courtesy of Cardrona Alpine Resort.
In honor of Cardrona Alpine Resort announcing major upgrades for the 2017 season — an investment priced at $15 million — there’s no better time to talk a bit about why skiing in New Zealand is so, well, for lack of a better word, rad. Skiing is accessible on both the North and South Islands, and there’s no better time to head down there for a bit of a powder fix than during our (the Northern Hemisphere’s) summer. Intrigued? The following reasons will probably have you looking at ticket prices ASAP.
Okay, it’s obviously not summer skiing since it’s winter in New Zealand during their ski season, but leaving your beach-going friends behind to work on your goggle tan is pretty novel during the time of the year that many of us consider summer. And winter in New Zealand is different than many of the winters we all know in the continental US; it’s not unusual to have pretty mild temperatures during the day (think skiing in the morning, golfing in the afternoon), and it rarely snows in town. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, if you ask me.
Flying into the South Island and accessing the area’s ski resorts is easy. Queenstown Airport is located minutes away from the adventure sports Mecca of Queenstown and about an hour and a half away from Wanaka, with plenty of prime South Island skiing in between. The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona Alpine Resort, and Treble Cone are all nearby, and easily accessible if you’re looking to sample a bit of snow at each resort on your trip. If you’ve got a little bit of extra time, Mt. Hutt is located near Christchurch, which also has a convenient international airport nearby, and boasts ocean views from the chairlift (it also was recognized as New Zealand’s best resort in both 2015 and 2016).
You’ve got to remember that skiing in New Zealand is different than what you’re probably used to at many poplar North American ski resorts; they don’t get as much snow, there’s really not any tree skiing, and it’s generally pretty hard packed, but it’s breathtaking terrain. And it’s not all on the South Island; Whakapapa Ski Area (New Zealand’s biggest resort) and Turoa Ski Area (home of Australasia’s longest vertical descent and New Zealand’s highest chairlift) share the same mountain, which happens to be an active volcano — it’s no coincidence that the country was used as a backdrop for Lord of The Rings’ Middle Earth.
Check out rates for Air New Zealand, as the country’s namesake airline flies into all the nearby airports to whisk you off on your Kiwi ski vacation.