Approximately 370 kilometers out of Auckland is Mount Ruapehu. This is considered and rated as one of the best ski areas and resorts in the North Island, and possibly even New Zealand (depending on the weather!). Skiers and snowboarders are welcome and between the in-bounds terrain and off-piste sections there are over 2300-acres of skiable slopes on Mount Ruapehu. Ruapehu has a base altitude of approximately 1600 meters with the vertical rise going up to the summit at 2322 meters. A combination of t-bar and lifts get skiers to the summit where the option to remain inbounds or hike out-of-bounds gets made. Only experienced backcountry skiers and riders should go off-piste and even then only with proper avalanche gear and training. For those who wish the out-of-bounds experience, but lack the skills to navigate the backcountry, there are guides available at the Mount Ruapehu resort area.
Because the Lake Wanaka is relatively close (around a 1.5 hours) from Queenstown, it is an easy day trip/drive out of the city. Renting a car out of any of the New Zealand cities gives freedom to explore and drive through the countryside on the way to the ski slopes. There are Queenstown car hire companies at Queenstown airport & city center. Guided ski tours, lessons and gear rentals are found in the Lake Wanaka village as well as the ski resorts. Heli-ski guides and tours are hired out of the village. For heli-ski operations, plan on taking the requisite morning avalanche awareness and gear training prior to flying up onto the pristine mountains.