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New Zealand skiing probably offers the best the Southern Hemisphere has to offer and although the areas are smaller than in Europe, the backcountry skiing is spectacular.
Whakapapa at Mt Ruapehu is the largest resort in the country. 200 miles from Auckland in the North Island, it has 20 lifts, including a high-speed quad and regularly gets late-season snow.
Heading to the South Island, Mount Hutt is only an hour's drive from Christchurch and 40 mins from Methven. With 4.5m average snowfall per year, the lively approach road is worth taking on for the chance to try out the excellent terrain out the back of South Face. The resort has a good record as being one of the first to open in the Southern Hemisphere.
Further south is Queenstown, New Zealand's self-proclaimed Xtreme sports capital. From here Coronet Peak, Treble Cone and the Remarkables are all within a short drive, plus there's rafting, bungee jumping and a massive number of bars to keep you occupied. Advanced skiers will want to check out The Remarkables for some great backcountry skiing, while Treble Cone is probably the most challenging field in the area with some excellent steep terrain.
The breathtaking scenery, Kiwi hospitality and the sense of isolation you get in Wanaka make it less a tourist destination and more like a typical resort. Treble Cone – where SnowSkool operates a ski instructor course – is still close, but Cardrona is the closest resort.
There are over 20 ski fields in New Zealand. As well as the major stations, Natives reporter, Tom Greenall, has visited and given us his impressions of some of the smaller fields like Craigieburn, Porter Heights and Mt Lyford.
For more detail on all the the main ski areas, check out Zoe Watson's report on working seasons in NZ
When To Go
Most resorts open up in early-June and are in full swing by July. The season runs until mid-October, although up in the North Island there's often still snow late-on (2001 | 2002). Most opening dates are covered on our events page.
Tom Greenall's Views - Tom reviews the biggest and smallest NZ resorts
Queenstown Resort Guide - Work, rest and play (by Jenny Byers)
Surviving in Queenstown - Rich shares his top tips
Wanaka Resort Guide - Work, rest and play (by Doug Brice)
Nutcrackers, Towbelts and Ropetows - Tom Greenall on NZ's quirky lifts
Queenstown - 'what to do & where to ski' - from Evan at Kiwinewz
The History of Skiing in New Zealand
Doing Seasons Kiwi Stylee - by Zoe Watson
NZ Update - Updates on life in NZ in 2000/2001
If you're looking to work in NZ, you'll need a Working Holiday Visa. These are usually easy to obtain if you are under 30, and the NZ government recently increased the UK quota by thousand to 9000 per year. Apply at the NZ immigration website.
British passport holders not intending to work are automatically granted a Visitors Permit on arrival, valid for 6 months.
British citizens up to 35 years old, including those that have already held the once in a lifetime Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand, can now apply for a 12 month Work Exchange Visa for New Zealand, available exclusively through BUNAC.
If you are skiing in NZ, you must have adequate insurance. The type of policy depends how long you are heading out for, but for trips of less than 90 days we recommend Annual Insurance. Rates are good and include up to 21 days' skiing on each trip.
If you are going for a longer period, then the Young Traveller policy (up to 45 years old!) offers good year round cover. This is available from £169 for 1 year's travelling.
Tom Greenall's View
Regular Natives will know Tom from his regular Chamonix reports. In 2002, Tom dropped into some of NZ's largest and smallest resorts to give us his impressions.
Mount Hutt (again)
Club des Saisonniers
Check the CdS for Kiwis or members who have worked in Queenstown, Treble Cone or Mt Hutt