6 Extreme Ski Fields in New Zeland That You Need to Head To in 2017 - The Emporium Barber

6 Extreme Ski Fields in NZ That You Need to Head To in 2017

6 Extreme Ski Fields In NZ That You Need To Head To In 2017

It doesn't matter if you are a ripper or a shredder, just grab your gear as we head out to the most extreme ski fields this winter and get some time out from the hustle of work. What better place to carve your line through the trees than in New Zealand, a country renowned for offering superb snow conditions.

Forget Perisher and Thredbo ski resorts – that's where you learn as a kid – we’re off to where you excel, and it's not for the faint hearted as we leave the first tracks, dreaming we are the next Scotty James.

Don't think these will be uber-expensive as there are affordable ski resorts to carve up. So where are the most extreme skiing destinations in New Zealand?

1. Craigieburn Valley

 Craigieburn Valley Ski Area is located in the heart of New Zealand's Southern Alps (about 1.5 hours north-west of Christchurch) full of steep, narrow chutes and wide open powder bowls far away from where the tourists converge. It offers some of New Zealand’s best ski and snowboard terrain, making it the mother of all natural skiing. You won't find a single chairlift, or enclosed gondola to get you up the mountain; this is proper back-country.

 With no glitz or glamour spot is for advanced and expert riders - you know the type -  the hard-core ski fans and powder-hounds. It also has a world famous club member, the Mohawk-wearing Glen Plake who loved it so much he joined up and now has a run named after himself - “Plake's Mistake.”

Think about that moniker for a second: world class athlete makes a 'mistake' on the terrain, and they name a run after him. You sure you are up for this? As for getting about, you better learn how to handle these or you'll be the laughing stock. They drag you up 500 feet of vertical, just remember to watch out for your fingers!

If you are an advanced or expert skier, you will love Craigieburn as it offers some of New Zealand's most challenging terrain without the grooming, making it just how mother nature intended. 

Steer clear if you’re a jobbing intermediate-level skier as you just won't be able to handle the pace. It has sixty percent of the runs under-rated as blue runs and triple-black runs where you will leave your stomach and courage behind as you call upon all your inner skills to cope with what is thrown at you. 

Some of the most extreme runs are purely for experts only. This is a place where you ski hard, drink hard, then get up and do it all again in the morning. For the fittest of you, you can grab the best snow by hiking throughout the 400-hectare area, and this place is also interconnected to Broken River via a 15-minute hike.

This is extreme skiing at its best and most certainly not for the faint-hearted.

2. Broken River

 This is a powder hound's dream boasting some 300-hectares of ski area with some of New Zealand's best off-piste, soft snow skiing and snowboarding and is best for intermediate or advanced riders or skiers.

Better still, there is’t one Prada-wearing freshie getting in your way. It has a superior back country look and feel with quality snow and best of all an amiable and welcoming vibe. New Zealand resorts are family friendly and no more so than Broken River a super family-friendly snow resort. This is the backbone of the club, and is one of the more affordable resorts to check out. Go sit on the huge sun deck where everyone will say hello to you. It's all part of the skiwi culture. 

Sitting next to Craigieburn (110 km north-west of Christchurch) it’s often overlooked, which makes it great for those that visit. Broken Riveralso has less kamikaze runs, and is one of the less crowded skiing destinations. BR consists of two large bowls that are sheltered from the wind and catch the powder. Perfect for advanced and experts it is riddled with drop-offs and steep basins and also has enough terrain to keep the off-piste intermediate rippers and shredders happy too.

Take a hike over to Allan's Basin, via the Ridge Tow – watch those fingers again – and marvel at the scenery below you, as you realize it is just you, fresh snow and a huge bowl of untracked powder for you to shred.  

Broken River is a quality all-rounder club field ski area and is certainly more laid-back and friendly than its mate across the way. You can also be a tad adventurous and head out for a bit of night skiing to make the trip worthwhile. If you are not an expert or advanced skier, there is still plenty for you to enjoy.

And it even brews its own craft beer! Now we're talking!

3. Temple Basin

  With its cult following, this is one ski area with a difference as you have to hike to get there. No getting dropped off in a Whistler-esque village at the foot of the mountain, this is proper adventure stuff.  

You park your car just off State Highway 73 (2-hour north-west drive from Christchurch) then get to hike for 400m vertical for about an hour to get up to the ski area. Luckily there is a goods lift to take your gear up. Again this is another club field where you ski and board as nature intended with no grooming of any kind. Temple Basin is big, with over 320 hectares spread across four basins that cater for all abilities in this raw alpine area. Most of the terrain off the lifts is perfect for intermediates and if you are advanced or expert get ready to hike to find the perfect powder.

Freestylers can enjoy the natural terrain features that include ¼ and ½ pipes, and this is another field you can night ski in. This is a place that is ranked as one of the best areas in the world, so you know what you are getting into. Another place that is rope towed serviced so get your nutcracker ready, but it should be noted that most of the terrain you will need to hike to, so make sure you are pretty fit before heading to TB. 

This ski resort is one of the best for intermediate skiers. A cracking ski field with basic facilities and a lodge up on the ski fields where you can stay overnight. You won't be disappointed with Temple Basin.

4. Mount Olympus

The “Playground of the Gods” for the powderhounds situated about 1.5-hour drive from Christchurch. Put your chains on your motor as this is one hairy trip up the mountain. If you are not sitting in a 4WD, go find someone that has one. The single lane access at the end is pretty daunting so let's hope you don't come across someone heading down the mountain.

Once up though, this is a quality area to ski and board and is set high in the south-facing basin that captures the dry powder delivered by storms out of Antarctica. There is nothing better than skiing through a foot of dry, champagne powder and on Mt Olympus, you get to ski fresh lines all day 

It's only 60 hectares in size making it one of the smaller snow resorts, and has a beginners area halfway up the mountain where your old mate, the nutcracker, will tow you up. We would imagine quite a few beginners walking up that part of the slope. Same goes for the intermediates as there are some tricky areas to ski up here. What might deter the snowboarders though is that a lot of the skiing has to be accessed by traversing, but above the tow rope located areas is some truly superior skiing. You've just got to put the effort in.

There are some extreme lines and chutes and plenty of runs for all abilities which are more suited to off-piste riders due to Mother Nature's grooming. The facilities are open from early morning to late at night with night skiing if you are feeling brave enough.

This is extreme, remote skiing at its best without the price tag of Heli-skiing.

5. Mount Hutt

Again, set in the Southern Alps about 1.5 hours from Christchurch in the Canterbury region of NZ, Mount Hutt sits on the edge of the mountain range with fantastic views across the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific. This ski field is monster steep with a cracking vertical drop combined with its steep pitch makes it ideal for racing, and hence it is known as the “capital of speed.” This is one of the more commercial ski resorts in New Zealand.

It's a great place to ski for both beginners and intermediates and has a stack of off-piste lines for advanced skiers among its 365 hectares. Not so extreme as the others (it’s groomed) and there are quite a few freshies on the mountain with you, but it is super fast and offers up some adrenaline-pumping double black diamond runs to get stuck into. If you are skiing with mates that are not up to your standard, then head here as it has ideal terrain for beginners. Do your lines in the morning and head out in the arvo with your mates as this place has something for everyone. 

Check it out here!

6. Whakapapa (pronounced 'fukka puppa')

Only our Kiwi cousins would ski on the side of an active volcano, and that is exactly what Whakapapa is... a ski area on the north-west slopes of Mt Ruapehu on the North Island of

New Zealand. This place is monster big with its peak stretching 2,797 meters above sea level. It’s home to some incredible over  its 550 hectares, which makesit the largest ski area in New Zealand.

Of the 67 runs, 50 percent are intermediate, and 25 percent are advanced (24 black and black diamond runs).

Although the terrain is above the tree line, there are lots of off-piste options including bowls, chutes and big drops. Freestylers get to ride the terrain park and halfpipe. 

On the East side, the volcanic eruptions and lava fields have created some interesting lines to carve up, while over on the west side you can gain access to the back country area. If you can't make it to the South Island, then this is the place for you to go as it’s one of the more affordable ski resorts in New Zealand. And it's on the side of a freaking active volcano! Tell that one to your mates.

Trent Pridmore
Trent Pridmore


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