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The Southern Alps form the mountainous backbone of New Zealand’s spectacular South Island. In winter, the slopes of this soaring range are blanketed with skiers and snowboarders enjoying the fabulous variety of chilly topography. For dependable snowfalls it’s hard to beat Mt. Hutt, where the ski season lasts longer than just about anywhere else on the island. The biggest and perhaps the most popular ski field is at Treble Cone near Wanaka, although neighboring family-friendly Cardrona may dispute that claim. Cardrona is a favorite of snowboarders, as is the undulating terrain of Coronet Peak. Nearby is Waiorau, which offers thousands of ...

The Southern Alps form the mountainous backbone of New Zealand’s spectacular South Island. In winter, the slopes of this soaring range are blanketed with skiers and snowboarders enjoying the fabulous variety of chilly topography. For dependable snowfalls it’s hard to beat Mt. Hutt, where the ski season lasts longer than just about anywhere else on the island. The biggest and perhaps the most popular ski field is at Treble Cone near Wanaka, although neighboring family-friendly Cardrona may dispute that claim. Cardrona is a favorite of snowboarders, as is the undulating terrain of Coronet Peak. Nearby is Waiorau, which offers thousands of hectares of open-range ski touring, while there’s another fine cross-country site at Mt. Robert, in the midst of a lake-dotted national park in the island’s north. Adventurous snow-lovers head to the uppermost reaches of The Remarkables or to Porter Heights near stunning Arthur’s Pass, home to one of the country’s steepest runs - Big Mama - or they travel via helicopter to wonderfully remote off-piste locations. The hub of the South Island’s wintertime social scene is Queenstown, which celebrates the coming of the snow with a 10-day festival in late June.

Paul Smitz
About the Expert

Paul Smitz has coauthored a dozen guidebooks for Lonely Planet on places such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei, various Pacific Islands, Prague, and Brussels.

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Paul Smitz for Triporati

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Now Happening in New Zealand's South Island (Winter)

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in the South Pacific the South Island is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the more populous North Island.
  • Language: English, Maori, NZ Sign Language
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    June to October