Pros: Epic terrain, uncrowded slopes, cheap prices, friendly people
Cons: Weather can be a gamble,
Many people describe the experience of Temple Basin as lift accessed backcountry, and that really does sum it up. It is a 2 hour drive from Christchurch and a 40-60 minute hike to the lodges and lifts once you drop your gear at the goods lift. The hike puts a lot of people off and Temple is all the better for it. In general I find that the more inaccessible a ski area is the better the vibe and more people are willing to help each other. It doesn't fell like another homogenised, pasteurised resort, it is something a little bit wild and you are reminded of that constantly.
I have a very love / hate relationship with Temple Basin. I have a lot of fantastic memories of mindblowing terrain, fresh powder, great people, hidden secrets and magnificent wilderness. And combined with that is miserable weather, unnecessary frustrations, polished ice and injury. I can't blame most of that on the mountains or the people but it can mean you are never quite sure what will happen when you go there.
The terrain is the most varied of any place I have ever skied, you can go from from wide open mellow bowls to 8 foot wide 40 degree chutes with overhanging rock in the space of 5 yards. In the right snow conditions steep gullies become the skiing equivelent of a rollercoaster and it seems every time I go there the snow has fallen or been blown differently and there is something new and fun to discover. Temple will reward exploration more than any place I have skied due to uniquely intricate terrain and complicated weather.
Temple Basin is a throwback to an older, simpler era. It has everything you absolutely need for a pure skiing experience and none of the unnecessary luxuries. And new people heading there are often surprised that the things they think of necessities are actually luxuries. Like snow grooming, chairlifts, and restaurants, and hotels.
What Temple offers is uncrowded slopes, epic terrain, cheap prices and a real sense of community.