Helpful tips for skiing in New Zealand:
Surf before you ski: www.snow.co.nz has complete skifield maps, reports, cams and weather reports. Find out if your destination is open and whether you need chains before you leave.
Try the club fields: The patrolled area may be smaller and not have chairlifts, but for friendly service, uncrowded slopes and cheaper day passes than commercial fields, club fields cannot be beaten. If you are an experienced mountaineer then there is incredible off piste powder to be had!
Get a Chill Pass: A Chill pass is the most flexible prepaid skifield pass you can get for the South Island with up to a whopping 13 fields included! Covering club and commercial fields from Rainbow Ski Area in the picturesque Nelson Lakes Area to Treble Cone in Queenstown if a ski tour is your dream you cannot beat a Chill Pass.
Hire the right vehicle, with the right gear: A small 2 door hatch may be cheap but if you are going up the mountain it might not be the safest. Hiring the right vehicle with the right gear (racks, chains and GPS) can save you big money. When being shown how to use the chains make sure you understand how to do it, improperly fitted chains are expensive to fix and can do some serious damage to vehicles and this is seldom covered under your rental insurance.
Make sure you have the right gear for the conditions: New Zealand skifields can change quickly from bright, blinding sunshine to near whiteout conditions. Goggles that are designed for poor visibility conditions may not always be the best option. Similarly just because it’s forecasted to be 10-15 degrees, doesn’t mean you can leave all your warm clothing at home. There is a wide range of specialist shops on the way to the skifields where you can get expert advice on what suits New Zealand ski conditions best.
Know your limits: If you are up by yourself for only your 2nd ever time up the mountain maybe it’s not the best time to go to that untouched back country bowl outside of the patrol area. Knowing your limits and knowing the dangers saves lives.
Try the local cuisine: Certain areas have certain special shops that are must try’s, Ferg Burger and Ferg Bakery in Shotover Street, Queenstown are notable places as well as the Sheffield Pie Shop in the town of Sheffield on the way from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass. To find some less well known places just ask some of the people working up the mountains, they always know of a favorite spot or two nearby!
Most importantly check out the road and weather conditions before you head out for the day!
Or download the excellent Metservice Snow app here: