/ NZ skiing

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ffati - on 15 Sep 2017
Due to work commitments the opportunity to go away skiing this winter isn't looking good.

So my girlfriend and I were thinking of heading off to New Zealand next summer for a ski/sightseeing trip.

Vague plan is to fly to Auckland see some friends and pick up a van then travel to the south drop off the van and fly out of Christchurch.

Anyone been skiing in NZ is it worth it or am I going to get a bit of a Scottish ski experience were it's mildly frustrating but awesome when it delivers?

We would be heading out for August
baron - on 15 Sep 2017
In reply to ffati:
It can be a bit like Scotland in that the facilities aren't as well developed as the Alps but it won't be as cold!
More like warm and damp.
There's some really good skiing to be had if, like everywhere, conditions are good but it's not huge in size.
Some of the drives up to the ski fields, especially the more remote ones are amazing, scenic, terrifying, etc.
Well worth a visit.
Watch out for the Kias

And how many places do you get to ski a volcano!?
Post edited at 09:24
ben b - on 15 Sep 2017
In reply to ffati:

Can be like Scotland yes - especially early in the season. However this year most areas are running out of skiers before they runout of snow (another 80cm at the Remarks last weekend...).

There's two 'scenes' - the QT/Wanaka 'big' resorts (Hutt too, outside Chch) and the smaller 'club' fields usually on the road to Arthur's Pass and beyond. I know people who have been basically by themselves in several feet of fresh powder at Temple Basin; the club fields are more adventurous, the tows can be bit lethal if you haven't done them before, and yes the approaches can be fun (it's a long walk to Temple Basin although you can load your skis up on a goods lift).

August should have reasonable snow though you might be v lucky. We had OK snow at the Remarks, rubbish up Coronet, and good snow at Cardrona first week of August this year. Hutt got about 2m!

If you have a sense of humour, an understanding car rental company, and a willingness to walk a week in the club fields could be fun...

ffati - on 16 Sep 2017
In reply to ben b:

Have read about some of the club fields sounds amazing! Is any tom,dick or harry aloud to ski there or do you have to be a member?

Any good touring options? Of what I remember of the southern alps is big epic long walks in the middle of nowhere to get to a scary glacier
damowilk on 16 Sep 2017
In reply to ffati:

I think if I was still only skiing on piste, I wouldn't be too excited about NZ, but the touring is pretty good. I live in Christchurch so the club fields are my play grounds. Anyone can go, membership is only for discounted accomodation and a season pass, and usually involves doing a few summer work weekends lifting rocks. I mostly use them as a good way to access the backcountry, but they can have pretty good skiing too, though very small by European standards. Most have rope tows (YouTube them) which have a steep learning curve.
My favourites are Temple Basin and Mt Olympus, particularly staying up at the latter with its outdoor hot tub. But Cragieburn and Broken River also good. Cheese man is a good introductory club field with no rope tows, and good back country access.

A good local tour is from Cheeseman field, along the ridge line to Mt Olympus, stay there for a night or 2, then head back, often termed recently as the Kiwi "Haute route".

Conditions are highly variable, this year was great mostly, last year not so much. The snow direction of fall often greatly influences which fields get it: Temple Basin occasionally gets over a meter from a NW storm that gives only a scattering to other fields, but gets very little from other systems.

This is very Canterbury-centric, apparently other ski areas do exist here!????
ffati - on 16 Sep 2017
In reply to damowilk:
Thanks for that the more I look into it the better it sounds!

Would a motor home be to big to get up the tracks to the club fields?
damowilk on 16 Sep 2017
In reply to ffati:

Generally yes, though you see all sorts going up the roads. It could be ok in fine conditions, but dubious other times, and if it's a rental, you probably wouldn't be insured for them. You can generally get a lift up the roads from the lower car park. Broken River has a lower and more sheltered upper car park, with a very "Kiwi engineering" cog railway designed by the Canterbury Uni engineering dept the rest of the way.
ffati - on 16 Sep 2017
In reply to damowilk:
Good to know might have to get a van instead are they still cheap remember buying one when I was there last but that was 12 ish years ago.

How about up north can you ski tour/ski around
tongariro crossing? Would guess that skiing up that end is more fikle?
fast eddie - on 16 Sep 2017
In reply to ffati:

I learnt to ski at Cardrona about 13 years ago as part of a camper van trip. We were lucky with the snow as there was loads. I'm a Scottish skiing devotee despite skiing across Europe and on that basis I would definitely get some time on the piste if I was out there.

Our camper van came with snow chains which were good but our descent on the ski road was trouser filling / near death so be careful and confident in your snow driving ability if there are long access roads.
andy - on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to ffati: We had a couple of days in July which we tagged onto the end of a work trip - we did a day at the Remarks and one at Coronets. As a regular Portes du Soleil visitor the areas are very small and the runs short, but we didn't do anything other than piste skiing from the lifts (and it was early season). If I went back I'd probably try some touring or even a day in a heli.

We have a Kiwi working with us who was brought up in QT and he was blown away by the size of the French and Swiss resorts last year - but Queenstown is amazingly beautiful and there's lots more to do than ski.

We just got the buses up to the fields each day and it was fine - very reminiscent of Scotland in that aspect in that you stay in town and choose an area to ski.
barney800 on 17 Sep 2017
In reply to ffati:

I've been over a few times and highly recommend it, especially if you like touring and backcountry and are up for a bit of an adventure. I think a good option would be to stay as flexible as possible and head to where the best snow is at the time. There is an excellent guidebook for backcountry stuff

I've had a blast at Broken River for a week. We were lucky with the snow though - in bad conditions it could be terrible up there.

I've also spent a bit of time at Treble Cone and Cardrona around Wanaka. Treble Cone has some of my favourite inbounds terrain I've skied (when the chutes are open) and some great, easy access backcountry. It's also got to have the best view of any resort I've skied. Cardrona is pretty dull in bounds, but the back bowls there are even easier to access and are fantastic.

This year we finally made it up to the Fox Glacier. It's proper big mountain country up there and the snow was crap (very wind affected) but from a mountaineering point of view the trip was awesome and the environment spectacular Most trips like that require heli access but if you fill up a heli it may not be as expensive as you think.

And if the weather craps out in the mountains it's often nice weather for climbing around Wanaka.
inboard - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to ffati:

If you're interested I have the NZAC ski touring guidebook gathering dust on the shelf...sadly no plans to be back for a while so it may as well find a new home
damowilk on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to barney800:

Yes, agree it pays to be flexible and move area to where conditions best.
As well as Central Otago and Canterbury ski fields, also consider the Mackenzie fields and backcountry, and Cook region, they can all have quite different snow amounts, and one are might have significantly better skiing.
NZ backcountry ski book is currently out of print, a new version is expected imminently.
ffati - on 18 Sep 2017
In reply to damowilk:

That's why we were thinking of getting a van gives us the flexibility to move around and maybe do a bit of climbing in castle hill etc.

Getting very excited thinking about it now!
Graham - on 19 Sep 2017
In reply to ffati:

I've just moved away after 12 years living in NZ - just don't expect it to always look like the pictures in the guidebook/website... It can be really fun, but the conditions are a whole lot more fickle than places with a more continental snowpack. For instance, TC opened about a month late this year and there were probably only a few good days up there before I left a few weeks ago.
Oui4Ski on 20 Sep 2017
We have just returned from a few weeks in New Zealand (what a fantastic place):
On N Island, there was lots of snow 2 weeks ago (early Sept) on the mountains at Whakapa (south of lake Taupo).
On S Island we skied fresh powder last week (mid Sept) in Treble Cone (2 chair lifts but lots of skiing) and the roads between Wanaka and Milford Sound were closed due to the quantity of snow. Ted Ligerty was apparently training each morning near Lake Tekapo (on the way back to Christchurch).
As others have mentioned, I'm not sure that you can depend upon the snow at any particular date, but when it is there, it's great!

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