When it comes to New Zealand, most picture lush green valleys and cobalt blue lakes, among other imagery of an exotic, subtropical island. But you forget that yes, while there are numerous white sandy beaches with frothy waves to ride, there are also white snowy peaks primed with powdery slopes. In fact, New Zealand actually has some of the best skiing conditions in the Southern Hemisphere, the mountains are just a couple hours drive away from Auckland. Check them out here.

1. Mt Hutt

Mt Hutt was named New Zealand’s Best Ski Resort in 2015 by the World Ski Awards, so you know you have to see what all the fuss is about for yourself. With some of the freshest powder covering 365 hectares of skiable mountainside, this terrain is suitable for all skill levels. And, hold on to your ski poles because it also boasts one of the longest vertical drops in the South Island. Right before skiers make their decent, they can catch sight of the shimmering Pacific Ocean, making for a truly unique experience.

2. Treble Cone

Open since only 1968, Treble Cone has become one of the most famous ski areas in the country located near Wanaka, New Zealand. It is the largest ski area in the South Island. The longest run is a whopping 4 kilometres long, and includes a 700 metres vertical drop. But don’t worry, if you aren’t up to that challenge there are plenty of trails that will let you take things a little bit slower. The mountain has immaculately groomed slopes which make it easy for skiers to enjoy the spectacular views as they ski the day away.

New Zealand's slopes are some of the best in the Southern Hemisphere.
New Zealand’s slopes are some of the best in the Southern Hemisphere.

3. Mt Taranaki

Typically, Mt Ruapehu would be first on the list as one of the best mountains on the North Island, but right now, it is only a run for the thrill seekers. Ensure your skills are sharp before you ski these slopes and make sure you’ve got a car with some serious pick up to whisk you away from danger – this is currently an active volcano, and it’s ready to erupt. With this in mind, it’s currently a safer option to gear up for a trip across the way to good old Mt Taranaki. These runs are perfect for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, the latter being the more popular option on this mountain.

4. Porter Heights 

If you’re looking for a ski trip suitable for the whole family, this is the mountain to take everyone to. Porter Heights is recognised as one of the best places to learn how to ski from scratch before building you up to the intermediate slopes. And don’t worry, there are plenty more challenging trails for those looking for more of a thrill. It’s ideal for all skiers because the runs here are almost always uncrowded.

Fresh powder is just a short road trip away.
Fresh powder is just a short road trip away.

5. Craigieburn 

Let’s top this list off with one of the more challenging ski fields. You’ll find this ski area in the middle of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, and features everything from narrows cutes to wide-open bowls. Be warned, this site is not for those who like to sip on a cup of hot chocolate in the lodge in between runs. In fact, there are no chairlifts, gondolas, or snow grooming of any kind. You get what you get at this destination – and that is nothing but pure backcountry.

So there you have it. Skiing 101 in New Zealand. Before you get started on your snowy road trip, chat with East Coast Car Rentals team to discuss your best routes and the car that will get you and your gear to the summit.