Simon Burgess
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New Zealand Snowboarding Guide

New Zealand Snowboarding Guide

Jun 24, 2023

New Zealand is home to some of the most scenic ski resorts in the world with incredible snowboarding on the doorstep of some awesome towns. In terms of summer snowboarding, it is easy to see why so many ski bums flock to Wanaka and Queenstown for their summer turns. You will find world-class facilities and some awesome terrain. But New Zealand snowboarding is about more than just the Wanaka or Queenstown experience. A snowboarding trip to New Zealand should take you to the clubbies, local run ski fields with a real charm. Snowboarding in New Zealand is set up for an epic adventure. Whether on or off the slopes there is plenty to do with New Zealand offering a whole range of adventure activities, from heli-skiing to bungee jumping you will find it hard to get bored.

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SOUTH ISLAND

The South Island is the main hub for snowboarding in New Zealand. It is on the South Island that you will find the majority of the ski areas and you will also find the largest variety. The larger commercial resorts of; Mt Hutt, The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona, and Treble Cone will all offer world-class facilities with fast chairlifts and extensive snow-making. Resorts in New Zealand are smaller than you may be used to with less vertical but there is still plenty on offer. On paper, The Remarks is small with only 14km of pistes, however, when you consider the hikes to the off-piste terrain this becomes much larger. The South Island is also home to a number of ‘clubbies’ or club fields where facilities are more basic but the snowboarding just as fun. If you are visiting the club fields be prepared to uplift using rope tows and nutcrackers.


NORTH ISLAND

The largest New Zealand resort is found on the North Island at Mt Ruapehu. The Ruapehu volcano is home to two resorts Whakapapa and Turoa. Mt Ruapehu is prone to bad weather but when conditions are good the snowboarding is world-class. The North Island is also home to indoor snowboarding at Snow Planet in Auckland. This means it is possible to get your snow kick all through the year. Although indoor snowboarding is not enjoyed by everyone I definitely think there is a place for it.


WHAT TO EXPECT

In New Zealand, you will find a mixture of small local run ski areas and larger commercial ski areas. This makes New Zealand perfect as it will have something for everyone’s taste. Loosely speaking you can expect the following.

  • The larger resorts of; Mt Hutt, Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona and Treble Cone will have world-class facilities. The lift passes are more expensive if purchased on a daily basis but there are some great season pass deals. These resorts tend to be more crowded as they are based in the popular towns of; Queenstown, Wanaka, and Methven.

  • The Clubbies or Club Fields are basically member association run ski fields that are open to the general public. The facilities at the club fields are more basic with rope tows, button lifts, or t-bars. Some slower chairlifts are in operation. Club fields are more affordable but offer fewer facilities with no big lodges on sight.


WHERE TO SNOWBOARD IN NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand is the perfect place to head on a snowboard road trip so you need not restrict yourself to just one of the ski resorts. Queenstown is home to two resorts that can both be accessed in the same day. The Remarkables is one of my favourite New Zealand ski areas with an exceptional terrain park, including The Stash, and some great easy access hiking. The Chutes and Shadow Basin are areas we love. Sticking with Queenstown, Coronet Peak has incredible views and offers night skiing three times a week. A new high-speed chair makes Coronet ideal for getting fast laps. My favourite areas here are off the Greengates Express.

A short drive from Queenstown and you will be in Wanaka. Wanaka is stunning and is worth the visit even if you don’t plan to snowboard. The lake here and surrounding mountains make it exceptional for photography. There are plenty of reasons to visit Wanaka as it is home to Treble Cone ski resort. Treble Cone offers the most challenging terrain of the New Zealand ski resorts and has a good snow record. A short drive from Wanaka and you will reach Cardrona. Cardrona is popular with many and has a great terrain park.

Further North and you will find the town of Methven. Methven in itself is unremarkable with little to do but it is a great base for outdoor activities. Just outside the town, you will find Mt Hutt which is regularly named New Zealand’s best ski area. Mt Hutt has the unfortunate nickname of Mt Shut as it can fall victim to high winds. When it is open it has great terrain with the towers being a favourite of ours. When Mt Hutt does close there is plenty to do around the town with Rakaia Gorge being well worth the visit.


WHY SNOWBOARD IN NEW ZEALAND

Everything about New Zealand just screams epic adventure. From the moment you land in Queenstown in one of the worlds most scenic airports, you will find it hard not to have a great time. It is best to keep your plans pretty flexible in New Zealand as weather can dictate if/when something is actually possible. One downside is that New Zealand resorts are prone to bad weather and with less tree-riding here it is harder to find shelter from the wind. The bad weather days can see resort closures but really this is just an opportunity to indulge in other awesome New Zealand Activities.

When the weather is good a New Zealand snowboard trip is up there with the best. Blue skies and incredible scenery can make New Zealand one of the most enjoyable places to snowboard. If you like freestyle, New Zealand has you covered with some of the best parks in the Southern Hemisphere and free-riders will love the hiking into off-piste areas. The pistes here are pretty well maintained and are great first thing in the morning.

You can say that the sense of adventure begins on your journey to a New Zealand ski resort with some daunting driving along some narrow access roads. The drive to Mt Hutt is particularly daunting in a campervan with some interesting long drops with no safety rails. The resort teams do a pretty good job of keeping the roads clear of blockages and its not uncommon to see a 4x4 with a massive cushion on the front giving someone a helping hand. You won’t really have much choice other than to drive to the resort on a daily basis as in-resort accommodation is not a thing in New Zealand. We actually see this as a positive as the ski towns here are buzzing with life and make a great place to stay away from the resort.

I highly recommend a New Zealand road trip as the best way to enjoy the snowboarding on offer throughout this amazing country.


Article continued at: https://simonjackburgess.com/blog/new-zealand-snowboarding-guide

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