For outstanding scenery, great terrain and two of the world’s most best outdoor towns – Wanaka and Queenstown – New Zealand is hard to beat as a summer ski destination. There are lots of ski areas to choose from, but note that all of them are pretty small so will only keep you occupied for a few days each at most.
South Island is home to the biggest variety and a great selection of ski areas. Most have recently-installed fast chairlifts and decent vertical, but will usually only cover one mountainside or alpine bowl, so their extent is limited. Treble Cone and The Remarkables are two of the biggest, with Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt popular destinations too. Several old-school “club fields” can also be found nearby, where you’ll find rusty rope tows, old chairlifts and little more than a small warming hut – but what you will get is some spectacular ski terrain and barely any other skiers.
Up on North Island, the two main resorts of Whakapapa and Turoa can be found on the flanks of the Mt Ruapehu volcano, providing a spectacular backdrop for skiing. These ski areas are bigger, but are also rockier and more prone to bad weather – so waiting till later in the season once the rocks have been covered and the spring sunshine is shining is a good plan.
As mentioned, the main South Island bases are the valley towns of Wanaka and Queenstown, renowned worldwide for their incredible outdoor sports scenes. Bungee jumping, skydiving, mountain biking and powerboating are standard activities to have a go at if you’re not hitting the slopes and both towns have a great food and drink scene – plus the influx of travellers brings some pretty wild parties.