The four ski-fields listed below (from east to west along SH73) are easily accessible from the highway. They predominantly offer traditional, inexpensive, Kiwi ski-club-style winter sports with spectacular views, reliable snow and virtually no queues. Most have equipment rental and some offer on-field accommodation. The season generally runs from July to September, although October is often good; for snow conditions check snow.co.nz.
Continue reading to find out more about...
Tickets, passes and Transport
All fields offer their own season tickets, though many go for the multi-mountain Chill6 Pass, which covers all the fields below plus Mount Olympus. The Chill12 Pass additionally covers Hanmer Springs, Mount Lyford, Mt Dobson and three other fields. Smylies in Springfield runs regular shuttles to Porters and other fields; check their website for prices.
The majestic Craigieburn Range runs along the south banks of the Waimakariri River, harbouring four basic ski-fields (generally open July–Sept), easily accessed from SH73 between Springfield and Arthur’s Pass. Porters Ski Area is the closest (33km west of Springfield), with beginner and intermediate facilities as well as advanced runs, café and bar, a lodge and equipment rentals. Broken River Ski Area, 11.5km northwest of Cave Stream, offers steep chutes, off-piste soft-snow skiing, snowboarding and three rustic lodges (with craft beer and cider on tap at Palmer Lodge), attracting more experienced skiers. Some 12.5km northwest from Cave Stream Scenic Reserve, Mount Cheeseman Ski Area is a family-friendly resort primarily targeted at learners and intermediate skiers (with rentals and two lodges). Craigieburn Valley Ski Area, 12.5km north from Cave Stream, also attracts experienced skiers with its longer runs, incredible views, uncrowded slopes (with narrow, steep chutes and wide open powder bowls) and access to backcountry skiing, but you’ll need your own gear. Many of the resort lodges open in summer for hikers and mountain bikers – check the websites for details.