Explore the best sites in the South Island of New Zealand and ski our favourite fields in the best of both world tours.
Our annual winter trip down-under is one of our favourite trips on the calendar. It combines our absolute love of skiing in one of the most scenic places in the world with plenty of local exploration - we combine 6 of our favourite southern ski fields with the absolute best visitor spots in the South Island of NZ. We are a country whose landscapes have been famously revealed in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, steeped in traditional myths and legends of the indigenous Maori peoples. From the glitz and glamour of Queenstown to getting off the beaten track in the central South Island High Country, staying in the towns of Tekapo and Ohau, this small group safari suits everybody in the whole family - whether skiing or boarding.
Ski the South Island gems of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Treble Cone, Cardrona, Ohau and Roundhill; explore the mighty glacier terminal lake at Mount Cook on one side of the great divide (the Southern Alps) and on the other take a breathtaking scenic flight & boat cruise on the legendary Milford Sound. A quick trip to the east coast and you'll be hopping along the unusual Moeraki Boulders, enjoy a aprí ski soak in thermal hot pools or shop and party to you drop in the international jet-set town of Queenstown. Two weeks is simply not enough!!!
See and Ski New Zealand Itinerary
11th August, 4 Nights in Wanaka: Arrive Queenstown - Depart for Wanaka
Arriving into Queenstown at your leisure, your guide will assemble the group throughout the day. We depart late afternoon for a short trip (approx. 1 hour) over the Crown Range to Wanaka - our base for the next 4 nights.
The Wanaka township sits on the picturesque southern shores of Lake Wanaka with spectacular views down the lake towards Mt Aspiring National Park. Unlike its rowdy cousin back over the hill, Wanaka has retained it's sleepy less developed charm making it the perfect spot for us to unwind from any jet lag and warm our legs up with two of the jewels in Southern Hemisphere skiing: Cardrona and Treble Cone.
Treble Cone: Arguably boasting the most scenic outlook of New Zealand's skifields (although we are going to keep saying that about almost all of them) Treble Cone might also lay claim to having the most challenging terrain in the Southern Hemisphere. There is no arguing that it has the longest ski run in the South at over 4km with a 700m vertical drop. You will love the friendly purist mountain feel of Treble Cone compared with it's regional neighbours.
Treble Cone Ski Stats:
- Ski Area Size: 550ha (1,359 acres)
- Summit Elevation: 2088m (6,850ft)
- Lift Elevation: 1960m (6,430ft)
- Base Elevation: 1260m (4,110ft)
- Lift Serviced Vertical Drop: 700m (2,321ft)
- Longest Run: 4km (2.5 miles)
- Beginner Terrain 10%, Intermediate Terrain 45%, Advanced Terrain 45%
- Terrain Parks, Jazz Park & Jazz Kid’s Fun Trail
Cardrona: The Cardrona Valley and the ski resort lay to the South of Lake Wanaka, a short drive away. The wide open beginner trails and pristine groomed runs for all levels gives this mountain a real friendly family feeling. Plus the huge playground of massive jumps, and world class parks and pipes are a site to behold. This year Cardrona boasts a new high speed chairlift opening even more beginner and intermediate terrain which we simply can't wait to try. No trip to Cardrona is complete without an Apres Ski drink or two at the iconic historic Cardona Hotel! Established in 1863 this hotel has featured in every type of television commercial or film in New Zealand - as well as boasting a fantastic garden bar!!
Cardrona Ski Stats:
- Base Area Elevation: 1670m
- Highest Lifted Point: 1860m
- Vertical Rise: 600m
- Terrain: 345h
- 25% intermediate, 30% advances, 20% expert
Milford Sound Flight and Cruise: From our base in Wanaka we head out for what we promise will be one of the greatest experiences of your life as we fly over Aspiring National Park and to the wonderful Milford Sound, where we cruise the Fjords with a smaller more intimate boat operator. The flight in a small fixed wing plane will be a highlight of your trip as we hop over the Southern Alps and out to the wild West Coast. Milford Sound is continually rated as one of the most 'must visit' destinations globally by the likes of Conde Nast and Trip Advisor. You will see towering waterfalls, deep fjords, and hopefully some of our friendly locals (dusky dolphins, fur seals and blue penguins)!
Thursday 10th August; 2 nights: Wanaka - Ohau
It's a bit sad leaving Wanaka where we have become so familiar but our next step is even more homely as we head into the high country and remote Ohau Lodge. Ohau is a small family run commercial ski field in the heart of the Southern Alps. It is as much known for its' spectacular off piste skiing as its' friendly hosts (Mike & Louise). Not to mention it's the training home of the US Ski Team in their off-season. Ohau is perhaps our most favourite skiing destination in New Zealand. It's small, but has all the amenities needed for a fun day out and the locals are just so cool. It's off the beaten track but well worth the trip. Our accommodation is at the bottom of the hill in the Lodge, also hosted by the same family, combing fantastic food, a roaring bar, hot pools to soak the weary muscles and view over Lake Ohau and on to Mount Cook worth millions and millions of dollars.
Ohau Ski Stats:
- Terrain: Beginner 20%, Intermediate 50%, Advanced 30%
- Mt Sutton Altitude: 2000m, Ridge altitude 1925m
- Highest Lift: 1825m
- Base facilities: 1500m
- Lift Base: 1425m
- Vertical drop: 400m
- Area of Snow Fields: From top of Chairlift: 125ha, From top of Mt Sutton: 600ha
- Lifts: 1 Chairlift (double), 1 Drag Lift, and 1 Snow Mat for beginners
Saturday 12th; 3 nights: Ohau to Tekapo via Mount Cook
After two nights at Ohau we march on North to the village of Tekapo. But first we divert for the day to the foot of the highest peak in Oceania - Aoraki Mt Cook. Our days journey takes us up the side of the milky blue Lake Pukaki, the 2nd of the three great lakes. Each lake fed by the Southern Alps has it's own distinctively different vibrant blue. At Mt Cook National Park we will take a short hike to the Tasman Glacier terminal lake. Standing above the lake there is a real sense of enormity and your small place in the world. Ice, millions of years old, floats paste and you get the feeling that a dinosaur might just wander through the vista at any stage. Wandering through the open plain you may even hear the thunderous roar of scree and ice avalanches cascading (at a very safe distance) in the surrounding mountains.
Our home for the next three nights is the aptly named Tekapo. Or more correctly in Maori 'Takapo'. The components of which “taka” and “po” mean, respectively, “sleeping mat” and “night.’ Bigger than one-lodge Ohau, Lake Tekapo is still delightfully small and relatively undisturbed although it hosts a good amount of restaurant variety for such a small resort. And while you are walking home from your evening meal take time to look up - while the view out across the lake and into Mount Cook National Park is stunning, it is the night sky that has put Tekapo on the map. In fact, the unpolluted panorama stuffed with stars is so god it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If weather allows we have the option of visiting the Mt John Observatory for a nights viewing.
Our ski day takes us to another family run field high in alps - Ski Roundhill. We’ve chosen this skifield for the amazing local experience you’ll get skiing on a small field built by locals for locals. There is perhaps nothing more relaxing in the world than a drink overlooking the huge glacial rivers and Lake Tekapo at the von Brown hut in the late afternoon sun. Ski Roundhill is not just all easy family skiing though! The 1.4km Heritage Express Tow is not only the world’s longest tow but opens up masses of incredible off-piste terrain for most levels when the snow is right.
Roundhill Ski Stats:
- 2 t-bars, platter lift, 2 begginer tows and the Heritage Express tow
- The Heritage Express: top elevation of 2133m, average slopes of 26 to 32 degrees, and total vertical drop of 783m - the biggest in Australasia.
Monday 14th: Day Off
That's right, with all the skiing and travelling Tekapo is also the ideal place to do absolutely nothing. Maybe read a book, take a stroll along the lake front up to Mt John for a spectacular coffee spot or soak away the travel weariness in the Tekapo Hot Springs. Of course, not everyone needs a little downtime so we also have the options of ice-skating, tubing, mountain biking, more skiing at nearby Mt Dobson (or Roundhill again) or doing a very New Zealand thing and going Heli-skiing high up in the powder of the Southern Alps. Skiing with our local guides this is a skiing experience beyond your wildest dreams for all boarders and skiers of intermediate level and above (might need those hot pools after all!!!)
Tuesday 15th: 4 Nights: Tekapo to Queenstown via Moeraki Boulders
Lucky you rested yesterday (maybe) because today is a big travel day back south direction Queenstown, the Adventure Capital of the world! But before you can hit the glitz, glamour, adrenalin and nightlife we deviate to New Zealand's East Coast and the strange natural phenomenon of the Moeraki Boulders. Measuring up to 3 metres in diameter the huge boulders are plopped onto the Koekohe Beach like a petanque game played by giants. Time allowing we'll also pop into the locally famous gastronomic cafe / restaurant Fleur’s Place for a cuppa and a small bite to eat before heading south west back to Queenstown.
Tonight we arrive late into Queenstown - but not late enough for those who want to sample some of the 100 odd licensed establishments staying open into the early hours of the morning. The upmarket facade and high-class shopping hide the true adventure playground in the Queenstown surrounds. This is our Southern Hemisphere home, our backyard and our playground and we are always a little over excited to share it with our new friends. There are coffee houses, and great bars and a huge variety of restaurant types. Not to mention Queenstown is the home of Bungy Jumping! There is jet-boating, mountain biking, paragliding and zip-lining - just some of the everyday adrenalin activities that made this town so hot. For the next five nights we roam, ski, adventure, eat & drink and simply love life!
We'll ski two very close commercial ski fields over the next few days - Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.
Coronet Peak: Coronet Peak is a truly international skifield and in our books has one of the most interesting fall lines you’ll ever ski within piste boundaries. It's undulating and varied terrain make it a dream ski where no two runs are the same, while the onsite facilities are outstanding. Our favourite past time is a pizza and a classic regional Pinot Noir at European style Heidi's Hutt. We will also hit the slopes for a night ski when the mountain comes alive under hundreds of lights and the atmosphere turns into a unique combination of skiing, music and socialising.
Coronet Peak Ski Stats:
- 1 six seater express chair, 2 high-speed quad chairs, 1 t-bar and 4 learner conveyor lifts
- 2 terrain parks
- Coronet peak 1649m highest point, 481m vertical drop
- Longest run 2.4kms
- 214 snow guns – most dedicated snow making facilities in the southern hemisphere
The Remarkables: Higher than Coronet Peak the Remarkables has something for everyone; off piste chutes with names like 'Elevator' to long open cruising terrain ideal for beginner and intermediate skiers and boarders. The brand new base building makes The Remarkables a really attractive place to hang out a bit, ski a bit, hang out a bit, and ski a bit more!
The Remarkables Ski Stats
- 30% beginner, 40% intermediate, 30% expert terrain
- 1943m high 357m vertical drop
- Longest run is Outward Bound at 2.5kms
- 3 terrain parks
- 1 on mountain ice bar
We will mix our two days skiing with more fantastic off-snow outings as the weather determines. On one such day we will spend the morning wandering around Arrowtown – an iconic piece of New Zealand gold mining history. Dating back to 1860 this quaint town has preserved it's history throughout the main street and shop fronts. There is the opportunity for those that have just not had enough adventure to cycle back to Queenstown along the Wakatipu Trail stopping for coffee at Milbrook or taking in the picturesque Lake Hayes. The afternoon can spent exploring the shops and waterfront eateries of Queenstown or taking a ride up the Gondola for that iconic panoramic photo opportunity (and some mad luging), or heading out for an afternoon cruise on the Lady of the Lake – the Turn Screw Steamship Earnslaw.
Saturday 20th August: Depart Queenstown
But eventually all good things must come to an end and so finishes your New Zealand Winter Safari. After our previous night's skiing and possible partying one last time we’ll meet for breakfast and bid you farewell arranging to transfer those who need it back to the airport when needed.