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The best places to go skiing in New Zealand with kids

Destination Queenstown - Coronet Peak

The BEST places to go skiing with kids in New Zealand

Which New Zealand ski fields are best for families to visit?

Although we don’t get snow in Auckland, we are lucky to have lots of mountains in New Zealand to go skiing or snowboarding together as a family.  Here is our pick of the BEST places to enjoy a family ski holiday in New Zealand. 

Mt Ruapehu

Mt Ruapehu is one of our favourites, as it is the closest mountain to go skiing from Auckland. As it is a 4 and half hour drive south of Auckland, it’s even possible to go for a day trip if your kids are older. Mt Ruapehu has three ski fields to choose from: Whakapapa, Turoa and Rukino. 

Whakapapa is on the north western slope of Mt Ruapehu and has a dedicated learners’ area Happy Valley complete with a cafe, rental complex and ski school. Whakapapa also has New Zealand’s largest gondola, the 1.8km long Sky Waka. 

Turoa is on the south western slope of Mt Ruapehu and has two beginners areas, a decicated sledding slope,  plenty of gullies, drops, natural hits and wide trails plus New Zealand’s longest vertical drop at 722m.  Lift passes are valid at both Whakapapa and Turoa. 

Tukino Skifield is on the eastern slopes of Mt Ruapehu and is a family friendly club operated ski field that is open to the public. Tukino has 170 hectares of ski area and over 300m of vertical drop. 

Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand
Mt Ruapehu

Mt Hutt

Mt Hutt  is a 90 minute drive from Christchurch and is a family friendly mountain.  Kids aged 10 and under ski FREE at Mt Hutt with a free day lift pass.

Mt Hutt has lots options for kids so that parents and children can enjoy skiing at their own individual level. Babies from 3 months to children aged five years can go to Skiwiland an on-mountain early childhood centre.  Children aged 3 years plus can have on-snow time learning to ski as well as playtime at Skiwiland.  Children can still go to Skiwiland if they don’t want to ski, as their are other activities for them to do.  For kids aged 5 years and over they can learn to ski (or snowboard once they are 7 years old) at Kea Club which includes lessons, lift pass and gear hire. 

Mt Hutt has ski rental equipment for kids 2 years and up and snowboard equipment rental for ages 7 years plus on the mountain. There are restaurants, cafes and ice bars on the mountain.

Coronet Peak

Coronet Peak is about a 25 minute drive from Queenstown and is a great place to learn to ski or snowboard. The Peak has 280 hectares of skiable area, a now sports centre, night skiing and fantastic views over the Wakatipu Basin, Kae Hayes and The Remarkables.

Packages for kids at The Peak include lessons and hire packages and they also have a Skiwland for children aged 3 months to 5 years. 

Family fun at Coronet Peak Ski Area
Family fun at Coronet Peak (Credit: Destination Queenstown)

The Remarkables

The Remarkables are a 35 minute drive from Queenstown, and across the valley from Coronet Peak.  The Remarkables have 7 different parks for every type of rider. There are 2 dedicated beginners parks, 2 intermediate parks and 3 advanced parks. 

The Remarkables has good options for kids to enjoy on the mountain too. There is  Mini Kea for children aged 4 to 5 years and Kea Club for kids aged 5 to 17 years mountain experiences which icludes lift pass, lessons and rentals.  Plus kids aged five years and under ski for FREE at the Remarkables.

Winter scene in the snow, Queenstown. New Zealand.
Queenstown in winter with the Remarkables in the background. (Credit: Discover Queenstown)

Cardrona

Cardrona Alpine Resort is about 30 minutes drive from Wanaka and an hour from Queenstown and has the most reliable snow conditions in the region.   There are ski and snowboard lessons for kids, tobogganing and an on-mountain Kids’ Club and Ski Kindy. Cardrona also has ski-in and ski-out accommodation too which makes it an easy place to go on a family skiing holiday.

Kids snowboard lesson at Cardrona Alpine Resort in New Zealand - AUCKLAND FOR KIDS
Snowboarding lessons at Cardrona

Treble Cone

Treble Cone is a 30 minutes drive from Wanaka and is the South Island’s largest snow resort covering 500 hectares with uncrowded groomed runs and legendary off-piste terrain.  It also has the longest vertical rise in the Queenstown-Wanaka region.  Treble Cone has kids ski and snowboard lessons, school holiday camps and a Kitty Cat Club for younger children aged 2 to 4 years old. 

What you need to know before going on a family skiing holiday?

What age is it best for kids to start skiing or snowboarding?

Toddlers can enjoy playing in the snow if they are dressed warmly.  It is best to wait until kids are at least 3 years old can start to learn to ski, and when they are 5 to 6 years old they are at an age where they can have ski lessons without you. For snowboarding you are best to wait until your children are 7 or 8 years old as they will be stronger and more co-ordinated.  

Children enjoying the snow - AUCKLAND FOR KIDS

What do you need to pack for a snow trip?

Our tips on what to pack for your family are: warm waterproof gloves, waterproof ski jacket and pants, ski googles, warm socks, long johns, thermal underwear, waterproof shoes, jumper or layers to wear under your jacket, sunscreen, helmet.  If your family dosen’t already have ski or snow boarding gear it is easiest to just rent it when you arrive at the ski field. 

For your family car or rental car you will need snow chains and a windscreen scraper to scrape off the ice in the mornings is handy too. 

When does the ski season start and finish in New Zealand?

This varies depending on which mountain you want to ski on and what the weather is like. The season usually starts between mid June to early July and finishes between mid September and mid October.

We can't afford to go on a family skiing holiday, is there anywhere we can go skiing or snowboarding in Auckland?

Yes,  SNOWPLANET is an excellent indoor snow dome in Silverdale, Auckland where you and your family can experience skiing, snowboarding and snowtubing all year round.

Family at Snowplanet in Auckland, New Zealand
SNOWPLANET indoor snow dome in Auckland

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