Ski touring and back country skiing is a popular activity during winter months, both in the vicinity of ski fields and in higher and more remote areas.
Aoraki Mt Cook
The Tasman and Murchison Glaciers in Mt Cook National Park, and the Fox and Franz Josef neves in Westland National Park, are popular areas. Access is usually by skiplane or helicopter. Most of the touring here is done from alpine huts.
The nearby Godley Glacier, located at the northern end of Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, also regularly sees touring groups.
The construction of the Centennial Hut by NZAC on the Franz Josef neve creates a Kiwi version of the "Haute Route". Starting from the head of the Murchison Glacier, four days of touring brings you to the Fox Glacier, taking in some of the country's most popular runs. A week should be allowed in case of bad weather). Alternative starts for the more adventurous could be either Rankin Hut (Godley Valley) or a long walk/ski up the Cass Valley.
The Gardens of Eden and Allah, are high and remote snowfields at the head of the Clyde (Rangitata) river (about 70km north of Mt Cook).
The Arrowsmith Range has some good opportunities for touring.
To the south of Mt Cook good touring can be found around Mt Aspiring. Of particular interest is the Volta Glacier. Because of the ‘wilderness’ status of the Volta, access is on foot only, as no aeroplanes or helicopters are allowed to land here.
The Bonar Glacier to the south of Mt Aspiring has easier foot access.
A little further south are the Snowball and Snow White Glaciers, which are becoming more frequently skied.
A long hard walk will get your skis to the Olivine Plateau, which is in another wilderness area.
New Zealand Backcountry Skiing by James Broadbent
More about Craigieburn ski touring (PDF, 28KB)
New Zealand has more than 30 ski fields, including one (Waiorau) designed for Nordic skiing. There are also several heliskiing operations, generally based from the major ski resorts.
The first of the fields usually open in late May. The last will close in mid November, depending upon snow conditions. Very occasionally, some fields may re-open during the Christmas–New Year vacation period.
The most popular areas are Whakapapa and Turoa (Mt Ruapehu) in the North Island, and in the South Island Mt Hutt (south of Christchurch), Treble Cone and Cardrona Alpine Resort (Wanaka), Coronet Peak and Remarkables (Queenstown). These fields have all the facilities generally expected on a modem ski-field.
Ski field information
New Zealand Ski Council
PO Box 27-501
Telephone: +64 4 382 9055
Fax: +64 4 801-6743