Skiing Bitihorn Beitostolen Norway
Travel

Skiing in New Zealand

Several years ago, we endured a heart-stopping trip to The Remarkables Ski Fields in the South Island of New Zealand. Australians flock to the NZ ski fields, every year, as it is more cost effective for them, than skiing in the limited fields in Australia.

Finally, we arrived!

After the 8 Kilometre, nail-biting transfer to the Remarkables Ski Field, in a very old bus, we checked “in,” to receive our NZ Ski My Pass Card, microchipped to follow our progress around the ski fields and were measured for clothing, boots, and skis.

Hiring Skis and Clothing on the Ski Fields

The Ski Centre, (at 1610 m a.s.l.), was awash with bodies of all sizes in snowsuits, teeny tiny kids sliding about on snowboards and loads of skis resting in the snow.

Travel tip: Visitors can hire ski gear for their skiing adventure, (pants, jackets, and boots etc) but they do have to bring some items of their own, as I was to soon discover.

No, you can’t hire gloves, Ma’am, for hygiene reasons” – the attendant in the Ski shop told me sternly, upon enquiring. What was I thinking? (Even in this pre-Covid vacation). Ski gloves would be a personal item you couldn’t and wouldn’t want to hire!

I regretted not thinking through the Travel agent’s vague advice: “Travel light, you can hire everything over there.” I cursed leaving my own super-thick Norwegian gloves at home and regretted passing up the opportunity to buy a pair at our local supermarket, (which had so many on sale, as ski gloves aren’t usually a popular commodity in Australia). Thus, having a captive market, I succumbed and purchased a pair for $50.00 at the small mountain Ski shop. It would be impossible to ski/toboggan without gloves.

Storage Lockers for Hire at The Remarkables

I also regret not hiring a storage locker at the ski centre; however, the locks appeared dubious and I preferred to have my passport, drink bottles and asthma medication with me so chose to carry it around on my back, whilst skiing, not realizing how destabilizing this would be on my balance.

Update: The Ski centre now offers secure day storage with automated pay lockers and if skiing the next day you can store your used gear overnight in the Rental Department. This is available downstairs in the base building and you can pay by credit card or EFTPOS.

Ski Lessons

Group and Private ski lessons can now easily be booked ahead of time, via the website.

I’d opted to introduce my daughter to the thrill of downhill skiing in New Zealand, so I attempted to teach her what little I knew from a trip to Thredbo Ski Fields, as a school student, some 30 years ago.

Unfortunately for my pride, it fast became apparent that following the lead of another beginner skiers in the very generous Beginner’s bowl as well as eavesdropping on a few instructors was far more successful for my daughter, than listening to Mum’s antiquated knowledge. Physically adept, she quickly got the hang of it, having been cross-country skiing in Norway, several years previously. Before long, she was going up and down the magic carpet in the Beginner’s bowl area, while I watched on from a distance.

Hands up in a Happy ‘Y’

Lifts at the Remarkables

It is useful to bear in mind that lift passes allow you to access both The Remarkables and Coronet Peak ski fields and do not need to be used on consecutive days.

From the ski centre, we jumped, (literally), onto the chairlift, to travel up to the Tubing area. With skis on, it is no mean feat for a 10-year-old, new to downhill skiing, to manage this without any assistance. What happened to those nice attendants I remember who were there to help you on and off the chairlift with a modicum of grace?

In this age of economic rationalism, they had been replaced by a single safety officer, who replied to a request for assistance with a lackadaisical, “You’ll be alright!”  That is Kiwi skiing for you and his confidence in my skills, as anticipated, was sorely misplaced. Getting on the lift, was managed fine, but getting off was quite a different matter.

Busily advising my daughter, Miss 10, on what to watch out for when alighting from the chair, (which she managed with incredible finesse), I suddenly realised I’d left alighting from the chair a second or two, too late!! By which time, I had to jump, as the lift had started to turn and the ground was fast disappearing beneath me. The sharp decline on the slope meant I promptly lost my balance, falling over right in front of the turning chair!

With not a soul to help, I got up with the help of Miss 10, which was humiliation enough. I was then relieved to see a friendly face approach me, thinking this stranger was going to assist me to maintain my precarious balance on the snow. Alas, she was a photographer out to take an obligatory-first time ski portrait- the kind they sell in kiosks at somewhat ridiculous prices.

Snap snap snap, clicked the camera.

I inwardly hoped she didn’t get one of me falling at the top of the chairlift. On second thoughts, that could have been a better tourist photo! With my mouth wide open, gasping for air and scrambling for something on which to gain a solid footing, (said backpack swinging around on my back), it is little wonder the photographer suddenly hesitated, thinking I was about to sneeze, or collapse. No, it was me with a mild bout of asthma, gasping for a little more air.

Tubing and Snow Fun at The Remarkables

After that mild mishap, and a few more falls and runs down the slopes, we arrived at the Tubing area – which is a short walk from the lift.

Riding a Rubber tyre tube down a huge slope is a real blast in the snow. I can’t tell you how much fun it is, even for a person of my age. It is not just for children.

Miss 10 and I tubed up and down for over an hour, and I would have continued if I could have. I think sometime we may have reached speeds of 20 -30 km/h. It was heady! I felt young again!

Back then, the Tubes are pulled up by a rope tow, which has to be held taut whilst you are seated on the large rubber tube. For me, that meant holding the tow rope in a position that rather awkwardly was between my legs! Yet this was so much more preferable to walking up the hill in the snow dragging the tube in thick snow. And it meant we could get more downhill runs in. Yay!

Of course, the ubiquitous Tourist Photographer was there too. I think two photos cost near to over NZD$60.00 – you have been warned!

After several more hours, I was utterly exhausted and needed some fuel and asthma medication to continue. We returned to the beginner area instead of attempting more advanced runs. We’d fallen over too many times to remember, by this stage.

Despite seeing a nasty beginner snowboarding accident which to me looked like a flip gone wrong, we had so much fun, going up, coming down, going up, coming down, throwing snowballs, sliding down the snow cave/tunnel etc.  And the view from the Remarkables was well, remarkable!

Ski Transfer to Queenstown from The Remarkables

The return trip from the ski fields is simple enough. No need to book as apparently shuttles leave the mountain every hour, or as soon as they fill up a bus load, from 2 pm onwards.

Something to Ponder About

45 thoughts on “Skiing in New Zealand”

    1. Isn’t it funny how you either love or hate skiing. I even know several Norwegians and Swedish friends who HATE skiing – and they were born with skis on their feet. I think my skiing days might be over now, but I could easily walk about in snowshoes at the ski fields and be delighted. I didn’t have to grow up with it, though. Did you, Margaret? I am wondering if that might be why you dislike it?

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      1. I’m not good at being out of control. I hate swooping downhill in tobogganing, fairground rides. Oh, and snowshoeing too. I love being out in the crisp cold, in the middle of nowhere, with the quiet and the views. But SUCH hard work.

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              1. Heh heh .. I think we had best consider this exchange closed. You and I are miles from comprehending each other. [grin]

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              1. Stringer used to look hurt, and say “You just called me an idiot !”, and we would fall about laughing. Be happy about it, me old china. 😀

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  1. Skiing would not be on my priority list if I ever got to NZ but you make it sound really interesting. PS: All those who have never tried skiing because of lack of appeal – it’s the greatest outdoor activity EVER! (and yes, I see the point about money)

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    1. So you are a ski fan but in New Zealand you would rather sightsee? The ski fields in Australia are very limited and thus expensive, so many Aussies go to New Zealand to ski as it is less expensive. And it is only 3 hours by plane. I doubt tray yo would travel to New Zealand from Europe unless you were chasing a second winter.

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  2. I’ve so far only visited North Island New Zealand but I’ve been on ski holidays numerous times to Switzerland, France, Austria and Finland. Finnish Lapland being my absolute favourite as it’s not so challenging, quieter and the scenery is gorgeous. In my early days of ski-ing I developed a definite hate relationship with lifts, falling off T Bars before reaching the top and then struggling to get on my feet in a dignified manner and having to ski back down to re-join the lift queue at the bottom again. The first time on a four seater chair lift didn’t go well either as like you I hesitated and left it too late to get off, ending in a heap and having to be pulled clear by the attendant as the next set of chairs approached. Fortunately I soon got the hang of it and believe it or not actually enjoyed ski holidays.

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    1. You could have described my first few days as a school student in the snow, Marion, as I fell off the T bars, had embarrassing falls, struggled to stay could upright and generally hated it. Then something happened on the fourth day – I could keep my balance and after that the love affair with snow and skiing began. I was not so good with cross-country skis in Norway, but downhill – yeah! I love the thrill of shushing down the slopes with the wind in my face and beautiful white draped trees and mountain scenery around me.
      Did you cross country ski in Lapland? I imagine the snow was soft and perfect!

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      1. We’ve tried cross country skiing in Lapland but it’s not as easy as it first appears. OK when you’re on a flat section but I found it really difficult on slopes and ended up with huge bruises on my bottom when I fell onto the back of my skis. Lapland has gentle downhill skiing through the trees which suits me perfectly.

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          1. We’ve stayed in Sääriselkä twice now, both times at Easter. The last time was just before I started blogging so I haven’t been able to document it. We went on a snowmobile as well and there’s a wonderful long sledging slope with free to use sledges which we loved hurtling down in the evenings. The first time we stayed in a hotel and the second in a log cabin, both lovely. We took flights from Helsinki but some resorts further south can be accessed by overnight train. My son left his expensive sunglasses on the table of a mountain restaurant and when he returned later thankfully they had been handed in, sadly that wouldn’t happen everywhere would it!

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            1. Saariselka sounds idyllic and somewhere I would love to visit. I really enjoy staying in the log cabins, (or in Norwegian Hytter),and sledging! Brings back some wonderful memories of Northern Sweden! Nice to hear the people are honest too. It wouldn’t happen in many places, probably not even in Australia, unless you were lucky, but it has happened to me in Japan. When did you start blogging?

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  3. When we were kids we used to go up to the snow fields once a year. My siblings all had a ball dragging toboggans or inflated tires up to the top of the slopes with squeals of joy as they whizzed down again. And where was I, sitting in the car. I didn’t like the cold of the snow, and was never an adventurous kid.p anyway. And I was always scared of slipping over. I went again when I was 20 and was going to try some ski lessons, but I still couldn’t adjust to the cold. I may feel differently now with the modern, warming polar fleeces. I think people used to wear wool in those situations, but as I’m allergic to wool I would have been dressed in something else, and probably not as warm as my siblings. Perhaps that was the reason I felt the cold so much.

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    1. I never had the opportunity to experience snow until I was teen/adult. So I think it is such a shame you felt the cold, seeing as the snow was so much more accessible for you, Chris. From what you have said though, it is the Aussie climate that suits you more. Mind you, the old cars must not have been too warm either. Those were the days weren’t they, when parents left kids in cars. We survived. The polar fleece and thermals work well as I am also allergic to wool and have to have a cotton layer underneath. The wool works so much better than acrylic to maintain body heat – I found that out in Iceland.

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  4. I almost missed the continuation of your Remarkables adventures. I’m glad I scanned through 🙂 It really is expensive to buy at the mountain shops, noh? I had to buy proper snow gloves in Hokkaido Japan last time, and it was around AUD80 Anyway, good to know that your day at the ski resort turned out good. 🙂 — amor

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    1. I am going through my old drafts or photos to re-write and update, so they are not always posted in chronological order. So I am glad you found it. Yes expensive at the mountain shop. I can’t see any photos of the tobaoggan slope on the current website, so I am not sure if you can still do this. It was more fun than skiing so I hope they still offer it to tourists. Did you forget to take your gloves in Sapporo?

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      1. Oh I brought gloves from Singapore but I realised they were not enough for -10 degrees and constantly falling snow. Oh noh, now I’m starting to miss snow. Fingers crossed that I’ll see it next year in Finland 🙂

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        1. Finland is somewhere where you will find plenty of snow and not be disappointed especially up North. I hope it is safe to travel again next year for the 2nd everyone who is missing holidays. Imagine singapore Has only light gloves available. I myself like the fingerless ones, so you can easily do some work in them, but with a nice warm flap to cover up your fingers when it is freezing. Skiing or so building in Finland is going to be such A-blast. And you will see the Northern lights, I hope and perhaps the Icehotel?

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  5. I did the same thing with the gloves and had to buy some. Luckily, I have small hands so I bought children’s gloves which were cheaper 😂 oh no – what a disaster with the chairlift! But don’t worry we’ve all been there 😂 I did a season at the remarks in 2019 and the customer service was mostly great. Sad to hear it’s gone downhill!

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