- Hit the slopes of six famous ski fields across the South Island
- Learn to ski or snowboard, or challenge yourself with advanced runs
- Soak in thermal pools and onsen hot tubs
- Enjoy the buzzing après-ski vibe in Queenstown
- Use your free time to hike or relax in nature
|Day 1||Arrive in Christchurch||Christchurch|
|Day 2||Drive to Methven, Hike Around Mt Somers||Methven|
|Day 3||Mt Hutt Ski Area||Methven|
|Day 4||Mt Hutt Ski Area||Methven|
|Day 5||Drive to Lake Tekapo, Soak in Tekapo Springs||Lake Tekapo|
|Day 6||Roundhill Ski Area||Lake Tekapo|
|Day 7||Roundhill Ski Area||Lake Tekapo|
|Day 8||Drive to Wānaka||Wānaka|
|Day 9||Cardrona or Treble Cone Ski Fields||Wānaka|
|Day 10||Cardrona or Treble Cone Ski Fields||Wānaka|
|Day 11||Drive to Queenstown||Queenstown|
|Day 12||Remarkables Ski Field||Queenstown|
|Day 13||Coronet Ski Field||Queenstown|
|Day 14||Free Day in Queenstown||Queenstown|
|Day 15||Depart Queenstown|
Day 1: Arrive in Christchurch
Welcome to New Zealand's South Island! Pick up a rental car, check into your hotel, and spend the rest of the day exploring the "Garden City." Christchurch is the country's second-largest metropolis, filled with beautiful green spaces. Start with a step back in time along the Avon River / Ōtākaro, where guides dressed in Edwardian costumes lead punting boat trips past landmarks like Hagley Park and the Botanical Gardens. Or ride one of Christchurch's heritage trams and stop at 17 key places, such as Cathedral Square and the Canterbury Museum.
Day 2: Drive to Methven, Hike Around Mt Somers
Leave Christchurch and drive through Rakaia, the salmon capital of New Zealand, on your way to Methven and the Southern Alps. The village of Methven is a mecca for those who love outdoor sports and is the perfect base for hitting the slopes of Mt Hutt Ski Area. Tomorrow you'll journey to the snow, so use the rest of today to explore on foot or simply relax. There are many excellent short walks around Mt Somers, such as the Sharplin Falls trail through beech forest and the Sidewinder Track.
Day 3: Mt Hutt Ski Area
A favorite with Christchurch locals, Mt Hutt Ski Area, is New Zealand's largest, with more than 902 acres (365 ha) of skiable terrain. Make the 40-minute drive from Methven, or ride a regular shuttle bus up, and spend today conquering the world-class mountain, voted New Zealand's best ski resort seven years running at the World Ski Awards. Expect open terrain, long runs, significant snowfall, and family-friendly skiing with something for every level.
Day 4: Mt Hutt Ski Area
It's time for round two at Mt Hutt Ski Area. Cross your fingers in the hope of fresh powder and return to the alpine mountain for a second day conquering the slopes. Now you've got your bearings on the ski field, challenge yourself to carve up the hill even more than you did yesterday.
Day 5: Drive to Lake Tekapo, Soak in Tekapo Springs
Today's drive to Lake Tekapo is filled with stunning twists and turns. Make a refreshment stop in Geraldine before turning west, passing through Beautiful Valley, and ascending Burkes Pass up to the high country plateau. Two hours later, you'll enter the picturesque town of Lake Tekapo, the first of the large Southern Lakes. It's a great place to take a scenic flight, enjoy a guided horse trek, or merely enjoy the magnificent views.
You'll be back on the slopes tomorrow, so use the afternoon to rest up and soak your aching muscles at the Tekapo Springs Hot Pools. Dip in thermal waters, relax beneath fountains, and enjoy the massage jets along with views of Mount John and Lake Tekapo. Here the hot pools range in temperature from 96°F (36°C) to 104°F (40°C), though there is a kid-friendly play area.
Day 6: Roundhill Ski Area
Step back in time to how skiing in New Zealand used to be. At Roundhill Ski Area, you can drive your car up to the base and pull out picnic chairs for a relaxed day on the mountain. This stunning ski field is spoiled with magnificent views of Mt Cook, the Southern Alps, and Lake Tekapo—the perfect backdrop for those ski and snowboard selfies.
If you're feeling a bit rusty or need to build confidence on the slopes, the massive beginner's area is ideal for first-timers, young and old. For the experts in the family, challenge yourself to take on the world's longest and steepest rope tow, taking you to the top of Australasia's largest vertical drop at a staggering 2,569 feet (783 m). When you need a break, either chill out with a picnic in your car or drop by one of the two cafés on-site. There is a dedicated snow school and gear rental shop too.
Day 7: Roundhill Ski Area
Return for a second day at Roundhill Ski Area. Zigzag your way down perfectly groomed intermediate trails with lots of natural dips and curves, or build up the courage to take on Australasia's most significant vertical drop. The slopes at Roundhill are packed with extra features, such as superlong natural halfpipes and chutes. If your muscles are achy after four days in the snow, retire early and return to the Tekapo Springs Hot Pools. A few hours of soaking in the thermal pools will make you feel like new again in time for the following day.
Day 8: Drive to Wānaka
The two-hour drive from Lake Tekapo to Wānaka takes you past spectacular scenes. First, you'll pass Lake Pukaki, where you can often see New Zealand's highest mountain, the Aoraki / Mount Cook, at 12,300 feet (3,754 m). Choose to spend your day at Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park and explore hiking trails by foot, or take to the skies with Mount Cook Ski Planes. Your scenic flight could land on Tasman Glacier, New Zealand's longest at around 10 miles (15 km). Keep driving, and you'll reach Twizel, the location of many "The Lord of the Rings" movie scenes.
You'll wind through beautiful Lindis Pass, one of New Zealand's highest roads with a summit of 3,185 feet (971 m), before reaching Wānaka, New Zealand's premier ski destination. This is the ultimate winter destination in close proximity to Treble Cone and Cardrona. Make time to collect your lift pass today so you can head straight to the slopes tomorrow. Use the rest of your afternoon to explore trails around Mt Aspiring National Park or go fishing, sailing, or kitesurfing on the lake.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 9: Cardrona & Treble Cone Ski FieldsWānaka's dual-mountain pass gives you the flexibility to experience two world-class ski fields. Spend the next two days shredding the mountainside across 2,100 acres (850 ha) of New Zealand's best skiing and snowboarding terrain at Cardrona and Treble Cone. While both offer great trails for all skill levels and ages, Cardrona is a family favorite thanks to its great beginner and intermediate terrain and kid-friendly gondola lifts. If you're new to snow sports or it's been a while since you strapped on skis or a snowboard, Cardrona is a great place to take lessons.
Day 10: Cardrona or Treble Cone Ski FieldsGrab your mittens; it's time for day two on the slopes. Return to the same ski field or switch it up. Treble Cone offers 1,360 acres (550 ha) of great terrain for skiing and snowboarding, including the longest ski and snowboard runs in the Queenstown Lakes area. Enjoy spectacular views of Lake Wānaka and the Southern Alps as you career down a 2.5-mile (4-km) run with a 2,300 feet (700 m) vertical drop. At Treble Cone, you'll only find about 10 percent beginner terrain, so it's a fantastic ski field for those wanting to challenge themselves and make the most of their gnarly skills.
Day 11: Drive to Queenstown
This morning you'll drive over New Zealand's highest sealed road—Crown Range Road—before dropping into Queenstown. It's only a one-hour drive, so you might like to take a detour east to Gibbston, a community by the Kawarau Gorge known for its fantastic wineries. Vineyards line both sides of the road, and you can pull up at notable wineries, such as Peregrine, Chard Farm, Gibbston Valley, or Two Paddocks, to taste Gibbston's specialty—pinot noir.
For the more adventurous, the nearby Kawarau Suspension Bridge is the site of the world's first commercial bungee jump. Originally built in 1880 to aid access to gold fields, now you can take the 141-foot (43-m) leap and touch the water below.