New Zealand’s North Island is best known for its gorgeous beaches, lush countryside, and dramatic volcanic topography. But, from mid-June to late October, the mountainous terrain also provides plenty of powder for skiers. Here’s where to hit the slopes around Auckland.
On the northwest slopes of Mt. Ruapehu, Whakapapa is New Zealand largest ski area. Surrounded by stunning scenery of Tongariro National Park, it’s renowned for its spectacular views, excellent ski school, and huge variety of slopes, making it the perfect place for first-time skiers. Most visitors drive from Auckland and opt to stay in the resort town of Ohakune.
On the southwest slopes Mt. Ruapehu, Turoa has pistes to suit all levels. Beginners can take a lesson at the ski school or go sledding at the Happy Valley beginner zone. Advanced skiers and snowboarders can tackle drop-offs and steep chutes on black runs, or get their adrenaline pumping at the freestyle terrain park. Ski passes also offer access to neighboring Whakapapa.
Best suited for intermediate and advanced skiers, the Manganui ski area in Taranaki is about a 5-hour drive from the city (or you can take a 45-minute flight to New Plymouth, followed by a 1-hour transfer to the resort). The ski field here is on the slopes of Mt. Egmont and receives about 120 inches (304 centimeters) of natural snow annually, with plenty of backcountry trails.
For a year-round powder fix just minutes from downtown Auckland, Snowplanet in Silverdale is New Zealand’s only indoor snow dome. With custom-made pistes and plenty of fresh snow, it’s the ideal place for winter fun without heading into the mountains. Activities include skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and a kid’s snow play area.