Canterbury is cooling down and heading for the best ski season in years after record early snow.
Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism Chief Executive Vic Allen says Canterbury is a winter holiday mecca with recent snowfalls creating perfect conditions for the season ahead.
“Our region has some of the most unique winter break possibilities in New Zealand. Here you can ski New Zealand’s longest glacier and soak in hot springs all in the same day.
“Canterbury has 13 ski areas ranging from large commercial to smaller club fields, all within one to three hours’ drive from Christchurch Airport. They all have fantastic deals on right now,” he says.
The region’s largest ski area Mt Hutt is scheduled to open first on 10 June and already has a record one-metre base, its best pre-season since 2011, with their extensive snowmaking system adding to plenty of natural snowfall. Only 90 minutes from Christchurch, Mt Hutt was last year voted New Zealand’s best ski resort at the World Ski Awards.
Just over an hour west of Christchurch, Porters is building on its 2015 impressive season with the new Easy Rider chairlift making it a great family ski area, opening on 22 June.
The Selwyn Six, Broken River, Cheeseman, Porters, Craigieburn, Temple Basin and Mt Olympus are all within easy distance of the city. Cheeseman is one of the closest fields to Christchurch and has some great early coverage of the entire ski field, setting it up for a busy season starting on 2 July.
The impressive ski fields in Mackenzie have been adding to their facilities this year, including an extension to the base building at Roundhill near Tekapo. Nearby, spectacular heli-skiing on the Tasman Glacier starts on July 5.
If skiing is not your thing, Canterbury is still a winter wonderland for visitors. Hanmer Springs alpine resort is home to Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa where you can soak in the hot pools surrounded by snow.
The Mackenzie region offers heli-hiking and snowshoeing, no ski experienced is needed. Take a scenic flight through Aoraki Mount Cook National Park which can include a once in a lifetime experience landing on the Tasman Glacier.
Closer to Christchurch, jet boat through the Rakaia or Waimakariri Gorge viewing the snowcapped mountains in the distance. Fly high above with Canterbury Ballooning or Sky Diving Kiwis where you can get a bird’s eye view of the Southern Alps caked in snow all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Christchurch is not to be missed this winter. Popular pastimes of punting – with a rug and a hottie – riding the heritage tramway and the Port Hills gondola for views of the snow-laden Alps, are joined by a wide variety of indoor exhibitions at Christchurch Art Gallery, CoCA and Canterbury Museum.
“Our city’s warm hospitality is something to experience. There are now over 836 cafes and restaurants in the central city, ready to recharge hungry visitors after their outdoor activities,” Vic Allen says.
Australians have even more Canterbury holiday options this year with a new Qantas service direct from Brisbane to Christchurch launching on 17 June four days a week during the school holidays, and three times a week all year round.
“With so many seasonal activities on offer Christchurch is growing in popularity as a winter escape destination for Australians who can hop on three-hour direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast.”