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New Zealand Ski Questions

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey there,

I will be going to study abroad next fall and am looking at New Zealand, mainly as an excuse to ski. The price to study abroad is the same as the price I pay per semester so using it as an “excuse” to ski is justified if you are really concerned about it.

That being said, have any of you skied NZ? My university choices are:
Uni of Auckland
Uni of Canterbury
Uni of Otago
Has anyone studied at any of these places? Or have any clue where they are located to the various resorts. I know this is a broad question but I figured I might get a little bit of help. Thanks.

BTW does anyone know how to activate an account on the TGR forums. I registered four days ago and still have no received an email to activate the account, however I can log in with my account name. Thanks again.
post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 
also when i say fall i mean july > november.
post #3 of 12
Well, forget Auckland if you're interested in skiing. Canterbury and Otago are both in the South Island/Mainland and (relatively) close to plenty of ski fields. My vote would be Otago because it's a great university and the student life is great. It's also dismally cold in most student flats in a Dunedin winter but later on it'll all make for a great story.
post #4 of 12

Rugby, beer, wankers, and pies!!!!!!!

New Zealand is awesome! Congrats on the decision to go there. It is a lot of fun and the people are real cool.

I have worked there the last 3 southern hemisphere winters/north american summers, but not this summer as I am too poor. If you go to the North Island i.e. Auckland, your choice of skiing is Mt. Ruapehu (pronounced roo-a-pay-hoo) or an indoor area just north of Auckland called SnowPlanet (pronounced crap-e).

I worked at Ruapehu for two seasons (03 and 04) and it is brutal. Mostly closed due to inclement weather so it is not real reliable. Plus it is a 4 hour drive (if you take the shortcut around Hamilton through Pirongia) to the closest ski field called Whakapapa (pronounced fa-ka-papa, I know it sound funny, hehe). Whakapapa does not have a "real" town, it has National Park. There is nothing in National Park, and not like usual boring town "nothing" but like Nebraska "nothing". The other ski field is Turoa (pronounced 2-row-a) which has a better town called Ohakune (pronounced O-ha-coon-e), at least there is a New World (grocery store) in kune. The bonuses to the North Island are that Auckland is a very cool city and the education you can get at U of Auckland is excellent (both my ex-girlfriend and her brother graduated from there). Transportation to Ruapehu involves the train, very cheap and reliable and drops you in either NP or kune.

Probably the best thing about Ruapehu is if you happen to catch it with good snow and weather...... it is the best skiing in all of NZ. No lie, the best. But those days are few and far between and are hard to catch unless you live there.

Which takes us to the popular choice, the South Island. At Canterbury you can choose between a few places but not many. The major area is Mt. Hutt (aka Mt. Shut). Many kiwis swear by Mt. Hutt so it's worth a thought, and it's only a short drive to and from Christcurch. CC is a VERY cool town and worth a thought as well. The other areas to ski are all "club" fields. These are some great places to swing some turns and experience what skiing used to be.

The last option is Otago. Personally I would go there. Last season I worked at Cardrona (05 baby!) under horrible snow conditions. We had maybe 2 meters (around 6 feet) of total snowfall all last season, pretty dodgy. I know many students from Otago and they all loved it there and came skiing alot. I don't know if you are an instructor or not but the uni has a "pollywog" program that teaches you how to be an instructor and prepares you to take the NZSIA Stage 1 Exam. So you get lots of skiing and something useful out as well. The poly's are taught by a former supervisor of mine named Rachel Milner, she is very knowledgable and tons of fun, just don't get on her bad side.

The skiing from Dunedin is awesome, you have your choice between Queenstown or Wanaka (pronounced juan-a-ka). Queenstown has two areas, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak both are very good. Wanaka is where I lived so of course I am biased, it rules. The three areas from Wanaka are Treble Cone, prob the best steep terrain in NZ. Cardrona (pronounced car-drone-a) is where I worked and is good for beginners and intermediates but an expert might get bored if they stray out of the park. Speaking of park look no further than the mighty Snow Park. This place is very forward-thinking. It is all terrain park, lines of pee-your-pants-huge hits, progressive rail and box lines, and 3 half-pipes to freak out over. Watch Shawn White's "The White Album" there's a lot of footage from Snow Park.

The skiing in NZ is sometimes dodgy (low snow/ice), often frightening (switchback, unsealed roads), but always fun. The kiwis are true diehards and that is a great attitude to learn from.

All in all go with your best bet for higher education because (i cant believe i'm saying this) skiing is important, but not as important as learnin yo self up.

Any more questions feel free to ask, I should be down there again next season so if you need any help in NZ just ask.
post #5 of 12
Canterbury would provide the closest access to skiing, only an hour or so from Porter Heights and another half hour would get you within range of Hutt and most of the club fields so you can decide to go as soon as the snow report comes out. A Chill pass gets you a season to all of those except Hutt and lots of students skipping out on every pow day to hitch a ride with.
Otago is a bit further away form the hills but the ones down there are the bigger and better known "resort" type. eg Remarkables, Coronet, Cardrona, Treble Cone, and Snow Park. More expensive, crowds and probably have to plan your skiing more in advance rather than just decide to head up when you hear the report.
Auckland is not a good option for the skiier, long drive to a mountain that has the most volatile weather so at the most risk of closed days. Only advantage would be longer season.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
thanks for the help... but im confused as to what "club fields" are...
post #7 of 12
Originally Posted by holden_ View Post
thanks for the help... but im confused as to what "club fields" are...
Take this with a grain of salt since I'm from east coast, USA and an Aussie or NZer can answer a lot better than I, but to clear it up a little in the meantime, I'll tell you what I know.
First, think upside down. the colder climate (and better, more consistent snow) is to the south. NZ is two islands, named for their location, North and South.
South Island contains what is called the southern Alps, and has the best skiing with Rocky mountain style resorts around Queenstown (the Remarkables and Coronet Peak) and Wanaka(Treble Cone and Cadrona). I'm not sure what's on Mt. Hutt, also on the South Island, but I've only Heli-skied there. Otago seems to be the closest to this area.
I believe Club fields are some sort of private ski areas, where memberships are required, but wait till one of them southerners get back from skiing to answer that.
post #8 of 12
Originally Posted by holden_ View Post
thanks for the help... but im confused as to what "club fields" are...
Club skifields are smaller than commercial fields with accomodation on the field. they can be just as steep as commercial fields but do not have chair lifts. Most have rope tows that require a good level of fitness and balance
to get up. They are also mostly ungroomed so fat skis recommended. Very
friendly staff and fewer skiers due to their being no chair lifts or T Bars.

I agree with previous post stay in Christchurch (my home city) go to Canterbury Uni. All ski fields about 1 to 2 hrs away for a day trip and bus transport is available to the larger skifields. During your Uni vacation you could go to Queenstown where you have the choice of 4 large commercial
ski fields check out www.nzski.com www.cardrona.co.nz www.treblecone.co.nz www.porterheights.co.nz www.chill.co.nz

All the best
post #9 of 12
I groomed at Porter Heights for about 10 seasons and have tried out most areas in New Zealand. The club fields are governed by groups of people that do volunteer work and pay dues to keep the area operating. During the season they do have paid staff as well though to run the lifts and do the patrol work (probably the same people) run the lodge and clear the roads. A very laid back atmosphere, one quote from the Craigieburn manager I heard one powder friday was " lets get this area all tracked out before the weekend crowd get here tomorrow", there was only about 20 of us and we stood no chance of completing the job. The terrain is generally more advanced and can cover quite a large area. The rope tows are great at getting you up the hill quickly but are difficult to ride at first and you need to be fit to ride one all day, keeps the beginners and posers away. They are also much cheaper and the chill pass is a multi area pass that most uni students in the area use. You do not have to be a member.
Basically it comes down to what you like to ride, backcountry style, powder and steeps you are much better off in Canterbury. If you want resort type ammenities, parks and apres ski then Otago is what you want.
post #10 of 12
Hey, it depends what you're studying to where u wanna go aswel. Each uni has its strengths and weaknesses so let us know that and we can decide which would be best for ya.

Im from Auckland and the skiing is often crappy but there are some really good days. Also if u stay at the auckland uni ski lodge ur sure to have a great time. have a few beers at lunch, a few more after skiing, a few more b4 dinner then a few more after dinner. We have a lovely drinking pit which is sure to have a few 'circles of death' every night

Its pretty cheap skiing there aswel. $250 for season pass and $25 per night for accomidation inc. breakfast and dinner.
post #11 of 12
To get an idea of the club field facilities, check out the articles from Dave at www.biglines.com


Craigieburn and Broken River are a 90 minute drive from Christchurch.

Forget Auckland.

From Christchurch (Canterbury) you can do day trips to the ski areas. But you can also do a weekend trip to the Otago ski areas (4.5 hr drive to Wanaka),and it is a beautiful drive. From Dunedin, you could drive to Mt Hutt in Canterbury (4.5 hrs?), but to get to the club fields, like Craigeburn would be 6 hours.

From Dunedin and Auckland you have to do weekend trips. Dunedin to Wanaka is 3 hr 15minute drive.

Assuming you don't have unlimited funds, skiing from Chrsitchurch will be cheaper - less gas as the ski areas arecloser, and the club fields are a cheap option if you don't mind using nutcracker rope tows, and only ski off piste.

You need a car to ski in NZ - especially from Dunedin, or befriend another sudent who skis and has a car, and if possible parents with a holiday home in Wanaka.

Public transport will not get you to the ski area for a weekend from Dunedin. If you buy a car, buy an AWD or 4WD and you must carry chains or they won't let you up the mountain roads. Suggest a cheap Subaru - we drive on left hand side of the road.

Otago Uni has a better campus atmosphere, whereas I thought Canterbury almost zero campus atmposhere. Students at Canterbury stay all over town, whereas Otago has an area around the University that houses the students in halls of residence, flats/rentals etc, and of course there are quite a few hotels in the area that nurture a party atmosphere. This is not an area that anyone who likes to get to sleep before midnight on a Friday lives. In Christchurch I lived for a year only about 200m from Canterbury University and it was VERY quiet. In Dunedin I would not dream of living near the Unversity. If you are a student it is great.

I've lived in both Dunedin and Christchurch. I loved being able to do day trips from Christchurch to Craigieburn, I really miss that now I am back in Dunedin. Last year when I lived in Christchurch I ended up doing weekend trips to Wanaka cause the Canterbury snow was minimal/non existent, but this year everyone is havng amazing conditions, so would not bother as much. Typically Christchurch students do not drive to Wanaka to ski unless it is a holiday break.

Gas (aka petrol) is a lot more expensive here than in the US. When I drive my subaru from Dunedin/Wanaka, ski Treble Cone for 2 days, and return - I'd spend about $150 NZD on gas.

Otago University has a lodge on the mountain at Coronet Peak. Coronet Peak is a great mountain when it has snow, is a bit low and is nick named concrete peak. I was there last Sunday and it had awesome conditions.
post #12 of 12
HEY! i just spend 3 weeks in new zealand, mostly around Queenstown.

If you are going, you must go to Dunedin. The area is beautiful, its just a great place. and its only about 2-3 hours from some amazing skiing. In queenstown you have the Remarkables (i think it was my favorite, small but just so much fun and adventure), and its little sister coronet.

in wanaka, you have treble cone, cardrona, and snowpark (for you park fix ). TC and cardrona are both big mountains, have lots of back country skiing and are tons of fun all around.

also, if you go to queenstown, i have to suggest a trip to glenarchy (paradise). it all the way where the glacier rivers meet lake wakatipu. it was amazing, untouched land, so beautiful, no one around, siding roads through forrests, and the bluest, cleanest, clamest water ever. go on a sunny day even if you miss a day of skiing, its so worth it
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