Skiing the South Island: 6 Alpine Resorts for All Skill Levels
New Zealand’s South Island may be famed for its snow-capped mountain peaks, but you don’t have to be a seasoned pro to enjoy the region’s slopes.
Whether you want to tackle a double black diamond run or simply take in the fireside views, our guide to the South Island’s best ski resorts has you covered.
The Rees Hotel
Best for: A make-believe mates trip to the French Alps
At first glance, this Queenstown hotel is quintessentially New Zealand, with views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding Southern Alps from each room’s private balcony. Look closer, however, and The Rees could almost fool you into thinking you were in France. Modern apartments with hints of baroque décor give way to The Bordeau Wine Lounge, which showcases some of Bordeaux’s finest vintages alongside Central Otago’s own top drops. In the on-site dining room, True South, sophisticated culinary techniques accompany a hyper-local menu, with the bulk of the restaurant’s produce sourced only from the South Island. And the skiing? Located just five minutes from central Queenstown, this European-inspired resort puts a number of the region’s best ski fields on your doorstep, from the beginner-friendly slopes of Coronet Peak to the expert-only runs of The Remarkables.
Best For: Big groups of mates on a budget
A no fuss and no frills option for travellers who plan to spend more time outdoors than in, this historic hotel on New Zealand’s famed Crown Range Road is simple alpine living at its best. And with a convenient location near Cardrona’s ski fields, it’s easy to get to the summit by the crack of dawn. Tackle your choice of slopes, which range from beginner and novice through to extreme, then make the winding journey back to the Cardrona Hotel once the sun goes down. After hours of enduring New Zealand’s sub-zero temperatures, you’ll find its rustic setting has its own set of charms, including a roaring fireplace, modern pub grub and an expansive beer garden out the back. After all, there’s nothing quite like a counter meal and an ice cold ale after a long day on the hill with friends.
Best For: Lakeside luxury in the heart of Queenstown
If your idea of the perfect ski trip extends beyond the slopes, the added perks of Azur Lodge are bound to tick all the boxes. A collection of nine private villas, this luxurious accommodation is equidistant from ski fields and city living, so you and your friends won’t have to choose between urban life and freshly laid powder. Rather bunker in after a few solid runs? Azur Lodge can organise in-villa dining from Queenstown’s best restaurants, while the spacious, window-facing bathtub offers welcome relief from après-ski aches and pains.
Cardrona Alpine Resort
Best For: Serious skiers with no time to waste
As suited to families and beginners as it is to seasoned pros, Cardrona Alpine Resort may not be the first thought for skiers familiar with the South Island – but this one-size-fits-all slope has a trick up its sleeve. Offering a limited selection of exclusive, on-mountain apartments, this truly alpine accommodation means you and your mates can maximise your time at the snow. And while there may only be 15 of these coveted hideaways to choose from, there are plenty of configurations to suit your group size, from cosy twin-share studios to spacious four-bedroom flats. The benefits of the ski-in and ski-out setting mean you’ll pay a premium for simple living, but the unrivalled access to the resort's best runs is more than worth the price tag.
Best For: Path-finding powder hounds in search of new horizons
Seen all of the South Island’s better-known slopes before? Bypass Queenstown en route to Brinkley Resort in Methven. Located near the Mt Hutt ski field just west of Christchurch, Methven’s notoriously steep and deep runs aren’t recommended for first-timers, but skiers with a few years of experience under their belts will be delighted by this less frequented summit. Of course, Methven’s more remote location means it misses out on some of Queenstown’s big city perks, but it also skips peak tourist prices, so you and your mates can get more bang for your buck. And nowhere is this more apparent than Brinkley Resort, where picturesque rows of townhouses intersect with manicured gardens, on-site dining and sweeping mountain views.
Mountain Top Chalet
Best For: Complete seclusion for small groups
If escaping the South Island’s major cities doesn’t lead you to the unspoiled terrain you’re after, Wanaka’s Mountain Top Chalet may be just the ticket. Perched on the edge of Mount Aspiring National Park, this exclusive retreat can only be accessed by a 15-minute helicopter ride from the Matukituki Valley base, so you can rest assured you won’t be sharing any slopes. Worried about being too far from civilisation? Don’t be. The Mountain Top Chalet’s rates include a certified mountain guide and live-in hostess, so you can enjoy the isolation of the alpine landscape stress free.
Discover the South Island’s best ski holidays with your best mates. Book flights to New Zealand with Virgin Australia today.