Local Time NZ

New Zealand’s ski season starts in June with ski resorts in both the North and South Island welcoming skiers and snowboarders to a variety of pistes for superb winter experiences.

Whilst not on the same level as the USA or Europe in terms of size or facilities of its ski resorts, New Zealand as a winter destination should not be underestimated – you’ll find ski resorts with stunning views, exceptional events, busy nightlife and laid back Kiwis everywhere so book your flights today and come and experience a Southern Hemisphere winter!


Cardrona Ski area, Wanaka

New Zealand Ski Regions

Each resort has different opening dates in June as they are set at different altitudes and New Zealand’s diverse landscape plays a big part in snowfall conditions (as well as Mother Nature of course).  Every ski resort has plenty of scope for different abilities so you can be assured if you’re a beginner you won’t be left stranded at a resort in the middle of nowhere with black runs only, or if you yearn for a bit of freestyle at a terrain park you won’t be stuck at a family friendly zone.

North Island

The North Island hosts a number of ski fields, mostly located in the central zone of the island.  Here, you’ll find Turoa, Tukino and Whakapapa.


Chateau Tongariro

South Island

The South Island has the majority of New Zealand’s ski stations, with the most well known being located in Queenstown and Wanaka. Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are closest to the beautiful lakeside resort town of Queenstown, while Wanaka (less than one hour away) is popular for Treble Cone and Cardrona.  You’ll also be spoiled for choice with Mt Hutt, Porters, Mt Dobson, Roundhill, Ohau, Rainbow Ski Area, Temple Basin, Broken River, Hanmer Springs Ski Area .and Mt Olympus

When is the best time to ski or snowboard in New Zealand?

This is a tricky question!  Generally, by late June most resorts will be open with main trails groomed and limited off-piste trails.  July sees more snowfall and therefore more trails opening and August is peak month with lots of on and off-piste action.  Early September is also great as morning runs in the spring weather are lovely.  Bear in mind, July coincides with school holidays so expect crowds on the mountain and in ancillary towns.

heli ski nz

Heli boarding and skiing in the Southern Alps of NZ

Winter Events

Winter doesn’t put a stop to festivals or events in New Zealand – from cultural activities featuring snow themes to mountain-top sports competitions, you’ll find it all.

NZ Mountain Film Festival is held in Wanaka, Cromwell and Queenstown in July and will feature a diverse programme of inspirational films, authors, mountaineers and climbers.  Chris Davenport, a double winner of the World Extreme Skiing Championships, and bronze medal winner in the Winter X Games will be a speaker as will Brando Yelavich who completed the first full circumnavigation of the New Zealand coastline (by walking, swimming, rafting and climbing) and Lydia Bradey who was the first woman to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen.

The annual American Express Queenstown Winter Festival is a must-do festival that incorporates over 60 events from dog racing to comedy shows to mountain biking on snow.

Opening night Queenstown Winter Festivaal

Opening Firework display at the American Express Queenstown Winterfestival 2016

Clicquot in the Snow is a premier event that will return to Queenstown for its sixth year from 4-7 August 2016.  Enjoy the atmosphere at the Clicquot Après Bar at Coronet Peak, join the Laneway Party, or savour a long lunch with champagne at Rata. Contact us today as this event has limited availability.

Saturday 13 August 2016 is the date for the 23rd Peak to Peak race. Sponsored by Torpedo7, it is the South Island’s biggest winter multisport event whereby individuals and teams race by ski/ snowboard, mountain bike, kayak, foot and road bike from the top of the Remarkables Ski Area to Coronet Peak.

Many of our clients are familiar with New Zealand’s best golf courses, including the one at Jacks Point, however on Saturday 3 September 2016 the Jacks Point area will see runners head there for the Jacks Point Trail Run where competitors can enter a 7km Walk/Run, a Half Marathon Trail and 3-person Business Teams Challenge with some of Queenstown’s most spectacular views.

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date with all these above events for next year (2017), plus the 2017 Audi Quattro Winter Games, For other seasonal ideas, please read our guide here for adventure sports in New Zealand.

What we offer

Black Label Experience wants to share the beauty of New Zealand in winter with our clients, so whether you seek an adrenaline-fuelled week or a relaxing weekend we can connect you to your dream winter getaway.  Get in touch with Tania (email: tania@blacklabelexperience.com) to book any of the following:

  • Luxury winter accommodation near any of New Zealand’s ski resorts, or pre/post event accommodation
  • Heli boarding, heli skiing, heli scenic flights
  • Husky dog sledding
  • Bespoke food and wine experiences including mountain-top picnics, champagne scenic flights, vineyard tours
  • Clicquot in the Snow tickets
  • Mountaineering (and arrangement for mountain guides)
  • Airport transfers
  • Winter spa packages for post-ski pampering

Media Credits:  Thank you to American Express Queenstown Winter Festival for the use of the fireworks image, Mark Sedon (Festival Director of the NZ Mountain Film Festival) for permission to use the NZMFF video, Flickr for the Cardrona image, Great Lakes Taupo for the Whakapapa photo, Harris Mountains Heli-Ski for the heli image.