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New Zealand snowboarding


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I don't usually post (lurker), but I thought I'd just throw it out there just in case there were any New Zealand boarders out there.

So I decided that I can't wait until Nov to go snowboarding, so I've booked my flight to New Zealand! I'll be in New Zealand from Aug 29 - Sep 7. I haven't decided where I want to go, but I'm pretty sure that it will involve Coronet Peak, Cardrona, and Treble Cone. Anyone want to meet up?

Also, I've never been, so if anyone has ever snowboarded there, please tell me how you liked it, where you went, and where you stayed. Thank you!

Normally, I'd put this post in the "Ride Board" section, but I didn't see a section for "New Zealand" (maybe we should have an "International" section for people taking trips abroad).


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...Also, I've never been, so if anyone has ever snowboarded there, please tell me how you liked it, where you went, and where you stayed.
Hey Alex,

I've spent a few austral winters living and working in New Zealand and can offer the following thoughts for your consideration. You will definitely be stoked as it is one of the most beautiful, friendly, pristine countries in the world. It can also offer some terrific riding.

If you're going primarily for snowsports, I'd leave the North Island for next time and fly to Christchurch (you can fly direct or connect from AKL). It's a great town and close to the Southern Alps. I'd recommend heading to Mt Hutt, which is in nearby Methven. While most of the roads to the ski fields in NZ are exciting, the road to Mt Hutt is the most amazing of all. Steep, unsealed, exposed, with no guardrails. In a snowstorm or gale it's not for the faint o' heart. While in the Canterbury region, you might also take a day at a club field--keeping in mind they are the antithesis of megaresort skiing. Don't go if you're looking for flash lodges, upscale accomodation or amenities, or even grooming. Go if you like off-piste, powder, and adventure.

Heading south, you'll want to visit Queenstown and Wanaka, which are home to some of the best ski fields on the South Island, and are also where you can indulge in a wide variety of adventure sports, ranging from bungy jumping, to jet boating, to hang gliding, to rapid swimming, etc. Queenstown is by far the more raucous of the two and if you're into nightlife is the place to raise hell until the sun rises.

The skiing out of Q-Town is very good. Coronet Peak is just outside of town and is a good enough place, but I'd recommend hitting the Remarkables first, checking the snow, and then deciding whether to ride there or to head across the valley to Coronet Peak. Coronet Peak sits just a bit lower than the Remarks, and is subject to occasional rain and thaws. The Remarks often dodge this meteorlogical bullet, being just cold enough to snow. It is for this reason that the locals call Coronet "Concrete Peak"; the occasional rain and warm temps can turn it to an ice festival. Both have good beginner and intermediate terrain, and the scenery is simply fantastic.

Of the two, my preference is the Remarkables. The hiking at the Remarks is wonderful: there are sensational steep chutes above the lifts. Escalator and Elevator chutes above Sugar Bowl Chair are well worth the hike, and can often bring you to some terrific untracked powder. The Grand Couloir is a sensational steep chute high above the area. Definitely hook up with a local to get local beta.

<img src="http://i34.tinypic.com/2dbjl15.jpg" border="0" alt="Yannick carves Shadow Bowl, Remarkables, NZ">

As a small-town guy, I much prefer Wanaka to the bustle of Queenstown. It sits on a beautiful lake, which like all NZ Lakes does not freeze over during the winter. If you've energy, you can trail run, hike, or mountain bike after you get off the slopes. Cardrona is a good place to ride, and has some of the most reliable snow and best groomed slopes on the south island. The slopes off the Captain's Quad feature the best groomers for carving.

In Wanaka, my preference is TrebleCone as it offers more challenging terrain (less groomed for carving, but more steeps and great powder stashes). You can hike up the ridge above the six-pack for some sensational off-piste powder stashes. It also offers remarkable views of Lake Wanaka and Mt. Aspiring Park from the slopes.

<img src="http://i38.tinypic.com/2ic4mrr.jpg" border="0" alt="Lake Wanaka, viewed from the slopes at TrebleCone.">

Just outside of Wanaka is SnowPark, which is a freestyle dedicated area that attracts some of the world's best riders. Hit it if you're into park and pipe, or if you might like to see some of the best freestylers in the world; save it for another time if your focus is on freeriding and carving.

When I was there the exchange rate made heliboarding a not-prohibitively expensive option. IIRC Harris Heliskiing (out of Q-Town and Wanaka) have the most extensive permits to bring you to the best peaks and snow.

If you're going for carving, it's a good idea to bring along any spare parts you might need as there are as few shops that carry gear as there are here in the US. Expect a wide variety of snow conditions, weather, and terrain. Before you go, you can stoke-up and get a periscope on weather, news, and events on Radio New Zealand.

Hope you find this helpful. In NZ, you really can not go wrong. But be forewarned: you'll likely find yourself planning another trip there soon after you arrive. It's that good.

Hope this helps, and have fun.


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Thanks B-2,

That was great information and very helpful!! I'd love to fly into Christchurch and just drive down hitting every resort on the way South, but I thought that might be too ambitious for me (especially with what they say about the roads in NZ winter). I'm flying into Queenstown, and so I think I'll stick to the resorts near Queenstown & Wanaka via shuttle (wimpy, I know), at least for this year. As you say, if all goes well, I'll be more daring next year :)

I'll post updates to this thread while I'm down there.

Did you see a couple carvers here and there in NZ?


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B2 nailed it, Alex. Awesome advice. The only thing I could add is that don't expect the resorts to be the big - they're tiny - especially the club fields which can be fantastic in good conditions, but are most likely only serviced by a single poma lift or a T-bar running off a generator. Of the few I've been to, I love Ohau - the views from the hill are amazing and the lodge is well worth staying at, you don't need entertainment when you have the locals.

I learned to ride at Cardrona and it's still my favourite NZ hill - mellow, well groomed, rarely crowded. Captains is definitely the pick of the riding there. Mt Hutt is a big hill compared to most of the others, and if the weather is good well worth a trip if you have the time. As B2 said, the Mt Hutt ski road is a sphincter-slammer. Methven is the cheapest ski town in the world, though.

The only thing I could add is that you'll be up for a lot of driving. Unless you have falling snow, the roads will generally be good for driving, but don't be fooled by the distances on the map. From Queenstown to Cardrona over the Crown Range is easily a 90 minute drive, and it may take you another 40 minutes to get to the top of the ski road after that. From Queenstown back to Methven if you want to go to Mt Hutt will be an eight hour drive, but the scenery on that drive is some of the most amazing on the planet. If you're taking the shuttles like you said, be prepared to get up early and get home late if you're going to Wanaka. Coronet and The Regrettables are a lot closer in and a short shuttle ride.

It might be well worth renting a car, if only for a couple of days, and going sightseeing. The area around QT - Arrowtown, Glenorchy, and the drive to Te Anau - is beautiful with a capital 'B". if you drink wine, there's about a zillion vineyards making some of the worlds best pinot noir.

My key piece of advice - if the weather turns bad on you, or the approach roads are in bad shape, you'll need to fit chains if you're driving your own vehicle. Pay the $15 or whatever it is to have the chain crew at the entrance do it for you. It will be done in five minutes, and will save you 40 minutes of swearing, cursing, and crawling around in the mud...

I'm all nostalgic now. I'll be back there this time next year, I can't wait.:)

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I was down in Queenstown for our honeymoon last year (my wife and I are adrenaline junkies).

I second Allee's comments about the rental car. Call up JUICE rentals, they are really cheap (like $20/day unlimited mileage) and they don't necessarily rent the newest cars, but they are clean, well maintained and reliable. Also get the chains...it'll be worth it. Before you hit up the mountains, be sure to get used to right-hand drive on the local roads...it'll save you some scares on the hair-pin turns.

And be sure to check out the other stuff in and around Queenstown. I recommend the "Ledge" bungy off the gondola (awesome view), also jet-boating is legendary. If the road is open, a day-trip to Milford Sound is always beautiful (may have to fly this time of year though).

Have a great time.


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Hi asdfzxcv. You are being really well looked after here. Nice work every one. :)

I'm in Ohakune at the moment. It's in the middle of the north Island at the base of Mt Ruapehu http://mtruapehu.co.nz/ There are two big (for NZ) fields here about 40min drive from each other. Whakapapa and Turoa. I personally prefer Whakapapa for its carving terrain but Turoa is much closer to Ohakune which is a lot more social than Whakapapa village which is closer to Whakapapa. Currently we have over a 3M base. The best I've ever seen it. Apparently it hasn't been this good since the mountain last erupted back in 1995. The grooming is getting better every year thanks to some brave hard working Canadian Cat jockeys.

The weather systems are very tight this year so you'll need to pick your days. It will get better from here on in. Forget weekends BTW you shouldn't have any accommodation issues mid week.

If you end up this way (North Island) flick us an email cattz at orcon dot net dot nz and I'll come find you for a couple of days mid week. However for the time frame you've got I'd just stay in Wanaka for a week.

I second Cadrona and Mt Hutt for carving destinations.

Nice to see you are still around Allee. May be we could have an NZES in 09! ;)

Clean runs.


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Hey Jason! I'm planning to be back in QT for the second last or last week of August next year, depending on whether the friends score the condo for two weeks or three. If you remember and you're going to be around, drop me a line for sure.

Pleased to hear that the North Island is finally getting a good season, weather has been pretty wild this year huh?

I'll say hi to Michelle from Kinnears for you :-)

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Thanks Allee, I like your comment "you don't need entertainment when you have the locals". Every NZ-er I've ever met in Tahoe or Colorado has been super-cool. So I've always thought how cool it would be to just go to NZ and hang out there for a week. My work is sending me to Sydney the week before, so the decision to go snowboarding in NZ was a no-brainer. I couldn't convince anyone to go with me, so I'm definitely hoping to meet up with some friendly boarders & skiers. "The Regrettables" are you referring to the Remarkables? Not a big fan of the place? I've snowboarded in Chile a couple times, so my lower body is quite familiar with the "joys" of the poma "button lift"... thanks for the warning. Those things were not made for snowboarders!

Thanks Gord - I'll definitely use JUICE if I rent. I'm most likely to just take a shuttle, stay at a resort a couple days, and then shuttle to another resort for another couple days. The bungy sounds fun... I've never done that. Did you do canyonswing.co.nz? Probably not going to do the Milford bc/any day not snowboarding is a wasted day IMHO :)

Thanks for that update, Jason. I was actually considering Ruapehu bc/I have relatives in Auckland. But someone incorrectly told me that you guys weren't having a good winter. Bad info. I'll probably stay in Queenstown & Wanaka, but I fly through Auckland, so it's good to know that I have options. When you say "Forget weekends" do you mean that all accommodations are booked up already? I haven't made any accommodations yet because I still haven't decided where to go. I was going to "wing it" and stay in Queenstown for a couple of days (Coronet & Remarkables) and then book accommodations a couple days in advance when I know where I want to go (Cardrona & Treble Cone). Depending on how much fun I have and the people I meet will be the deciding factor of whether I stay at a resort or move on to the next.

Thank you, all, you guys are GREAT!!! I don't know why I don't post more often.

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...I'm most likely to just take a shuttle, stay at a resort a couple days, and then shuttle to another resort for another couple days.
FYI, in Wanaka and Queenstown there are no accomodations 'at the resort'. You stay in town and shuttle/drive/hitch to the ski fields.

<img src="http://i33.tinypic.com/143bja.jpg" border="0" alt="Hiking above the (now defunct) T-Bar, TrebleCone, NZ">

There are plenty of lodging options in town, ranging from plush hotels to economical backpackers. Bus shuttles to the ski fields are easy to book and usually pic you up at/near your lodging.

Have fun.

Post pics.


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Good luck with them resort accommodations. Take your tent if you want to stay on the hill!!

You're going ex Sydney? Get on the net and see if you can score a week long package in QT that includes accommodations and a multi-area lift pass. The Aussies get stupid cheap deals to QT, and any decent ski specialist should be able to get you a deal for a whole lot less than you'll manage by yourself, especially as it's the end of the season. QT accommodations can be a little pricey. If you haven't already booked flights, you'll do even better.

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When you say "Forget weekends" do you mean that all accommodations are booked up already? I haven't made any accommodations yet because I still haven't decided where to go. I was going to "wing it" and stay in Queenstown for a couple of days (Coronet & Remarkables) and then book accommodations a couple days in advance when I know where I want to go (Cardrona & Treble Cone). Depending on how much fun I have and the people I meet

Week ends at Mt Ruapehu are painfully packed, talking up to 30min ques for the lifts. Accomadation you can usually wing if you're not fussy, love your attitude by the way. :) Sounds like you're going to have a great tour. Let me know if you end up doing a 1 or two day, mid week, Mt Ruapehu mission with the relies. I'll be there.

Allee you're on fire! Thats such good advice re. Aussie deals.


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Excellent! I just sent you an email - that's probably the best way to communicate since I don't have a phone that works abroad. Were you planning on going to Coronet on the weekend or weekday? My tentative plan was to spend the weekend in Queenstown (since I've heard it's quite a fun city) so I'll be there or the Remarkables Fri-Sun (aug 29-31) . Then I was thinking of taking a shuttle to Wanaka to snowboard at Cardrona and Treblecone Mon-Wed. Then, depending on how things go... I can stay in Wanaka, go back to Queenstown, or even possibly change move my flight back to Auckland earlier so I can try out Mt. Ruapehu.

Thanks, B-2. It would have been a funny surprise if I had shown up at the resort with all of my luggage!

Thanks, Allee. I just arrived in Sydney, so I will definitely check out the Aussie packages!

Thanks, Jas. If I do make it to Ruapehu mid week, I'll definitely let you know here.


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