The 2015 ski season in New Zealand has just had a new lease of life, with a polar blast across the country dumping plenty of snow in all areas, especially the North Island ski fields. This is great news for snow bunnies hoping to visit the country for a winter getaway in August or September - and there are still ski car rental deals to take advantage of!
North Island winter wonderland
The New Zealand Herald reported hail in Auckland, cold temperatures throughout the nation and significant coverings of snow in many places which don’t see the white stuff all that often: Waikato, Dunedin city, and low in the hills around Taupo, Christchurch and Gisborne. The Chateau Tongariro at the base of Mount Ruapehu in the North Island turned into a fairytale winter castle overnight, and MetService issued snow road warnings in the Central Plateau and Upper Hutt areas.
It wasn’t all fun and games, with some motorists stranded on the Turoa Access Road on Sunday night. However, with sun and low temperatures forecast for the rest of the week, the outlook is good for a great August on Mount Ruapehu. The company which runs both ski fields on the mountain reported 60 centimetres of fresh snow over just two days - that should last a while!
Those planning to head to Mount Ruapehu over the next few weeks are likely to find themselves well entertained. Whakapapa and Turoa ski fields both have a busy schedule of events in August and September. Highlights include the “Rail Jam 2015” freestyle event on the 29th of August, the 2015 North Island Champs ski racing on the 17th of September, and the “Big Air” competition on the 19th of September.
In Ohakune in August, you’ll find more than just a great après-ski atmosphere. The annual Fallout Festival is happening from the 22nd of August to the 5th of September. It advertises itself as Ohakune’s winter art, music and snow hi-jinks festival. The action centres around the Junction on Thames Street and will include some great live music for post-mountain fun.
South Island snowy shenanigans
The cold snap of the past few days has had less of an effect on the ski fields around Queenstown and Wanaka - but that’s because they’re used to it down there. The 2015 ski season has been trucking along well for Coronet Peak, Cardrona, Treble Cone and The Remarkables, with plenty of snow and regular dumps keeping skiers and snowboarders happy.
Some road closures issued by the NZ Transport Agency over the weekend are an indication that winter is by no means over yet - and also a warning that visitors should drive carefully in any alpine or elevated areas.
On or off the mountains, there’s plenty to keep anyone entertained in the southerly ski hotspots. Here are a few highlights:
The Audi Quattro Winter Games and associated festival events from the 21st-30th of August. As well as the best of competitive winter events (which are free to watch and take place in Cardrona, Coronet Peak and cross-country field Snow Farm), there are some great performers in the Queenstown Games Village and Wanaka Games Village.
The Gay Ski Week is happening in Queenstown from the 29th of August to the 5th of September and includes events like a foam party, a Queer Quiz Night, a cabaret night and more.
The Special Olympics Ski and Snowboard Regionals takes place at Cardrona on the 12th of August.
“Ski Queens” by Volkl is a girls-only event at Coronet Peak, taking place on the 15th of August and the 13th of September - a fun day out including champagne breakfast, coaching and giveaways.
The Burton High Fives at Cardrona brings some of the world’s best snowboarders to New Zealand from the 14th-20th of September for some amazing competitions which will kick off the 2015 Burton Global Event Series.
Planning ahead? The dates for the 2016 American Express Winter Festival have recently been announced.This is Queenstown’s biggest annual party and is happening next year from Friday the 24th of June to Sunday the 3rd of July. The 2015 NZ ski season’s not over yet - but now we can look forward to another one!
Pick up a car rental from Auckland or Wellington to get amongst the action at Ruapehu, or fly down to Queenstown or Christchurch and get your wheels there so you are free to explore and hit the slopes when and where you wish. Make sure to add chains to your rental if you think you’ll need them - and check out the Jucy Ski4Free deal or the Europcar New Zealand ski rental packages for a bargain.