Few places in the world boast golden beaches in the summer and snowcapped mountains in the winter, but in Canterbury, New Zealand (home of Christchurch), this dream is your reality. You’ll find more than 10 ski fields, plus a whole range of winter experiences, littered across the region. Best of all, you can take advantage of New Zealand’s position in the southern hemisphere — if you’d like to escape the summer heat, put Canterbury at the top of your travel list.
For a ski escape you’ll be reliving for years to come, first book a room at the Brinkley Resort in Methven. This high-country getaway provides the perfect home base for scoping out the area and seeing what the region has to offer. And with gorgeous mountain views, outdoor spa pools and even a golfing range, the resort is a welcome sight after a long day on the slopes. You’ll love the award-winning Brinkley’s Restaurant too. Try the pork ribs served with vegetables of the day or the southern seafood pizza with calamari, scallops, salmon, prawns and mussels.
While there are many nearby slopes to choose from — some only a half-hour apart — a great place to start is the popular Mt Hutt. This large commercial field sits only 15 minutes from Methven and 90 minutes from Christchurch and offers a particularly good spot for families, with terrain carefully catering to all skill levels. Drop off the kids at one of the many training programs and spend the day cruising down 901 skiable acres. Mt Hutt, which rises 2,241 feet, typically boasts the deepest snow of any resort in the country.
Plan a day with Methven Heliski for an extra bit of adventure and begin your fun at the remote headwaters of the Rakaia River. This adrenaline rush gives you three mountain ranges to choose from, with 250 designated deep power runs on more than 386 square miles of skiable terrain. The scenery is stunning, too, with vistas for miles around, so don’t forget a camera.
Porters Ski Area is another fantastic choice and is a local favorite with more experienced skiers and boarders. Located on the southern end of Canterbury’s Craigieburn Range, the mountain has the shortest access road in the region, taking only a few minutes to get onto the slopes and into the action. Not only does Porters boast two huge runs, Big Mama and Bluff Face, but it also features a terrain park.
Nearby Temple Basin is for the purists — it’s a powder paradise. The club field is a great place to meet locals, who are always willing and able to show you the mountain’s sweet spots. You’ll have to put a bit of effort in for this one though, as the access road doesn’t go all the way to the lifts, and there’s a short 10-minute hike to get to the top. Temple Basin’s basic but comfortable on-mountain lodges can make a temporary home for those who want to enjoy this alpine mecca for a few days at a time.
Trek down to the Hanmer Springs Ski Area for an extra special way to end a day of skiing. With about 123 acres of skiable terrain, the field has some great runs and tracks, but best of all, nearby Hanmer Springs township is home to a real showstopper: the famous thermal pools. Ease your tired bones with an evening at this extensive complex, which hosts several natural indoor and outdoor thermal, sulfur and freshwater pools. Take advantage of the range of beauty and massage treatments offered or just soak and rehash the day’s adventures.
Photos courtesy of Porters Ski Area