Broken River Lifts & Terrain

Broken River Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
    Broken River Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
      1,4324 – 1,824 (500)
  • Average Snow Fall
    ?  metres
  • Lifts (5)
    5 Rope-tows
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am to 9:00pm
  • Terrain Summary
    Trails – 21
    Advanced - 45%
    Intermediate - 50%
    Beginner - 5%

Broken River Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Broken River ski area is most suited to the intermediate off-piste rider. In “ski resort speak” this equates to your average black run skier or snowboarder considering that none (or very few) of the runs are groomed. Broken River commonly has abundant snowfall, and the word “uncrowded” would inadequately describe the lack of people there. BR is a powderhounds paradise!

The Broken River ski area consists of two wide basins. The main basin is the Broken River Basin which has terrain for a range of ability levels. Allan’s Basin is more ideal for advanced riders, and the surrounding peaks and chutes are even more challenging. A short hike might be required to get to the really “scary” runs.

The ski area is not large at only 300 hectares. If advanced riders desire more variety it’s possible (in the right snow and weather conditions) to go for a short hike over to the Craigieburn ski field. There are also ski touring opportunities from BR.

Broken River Lifts

Broken River is mainly serviced by three nutcracker rope-tows so you’ll need glove protectors or heavy duty gloves (which can be purchased at BR). If you’re a nutcracker virgin, see our advice on how to ride a nutcracker rope tow (not that we’re claiming to be experts!). Two of the tows are on the left hand side and the access tow is on the right hand side, so at least you’ll have muscles that are equally fatigued on both sides! And both goofy and natural snowboarders will at least have one ropetow that agrees with them.

Whilst nutcrackers can be somewhat challenging for first-timers, the nutcrackers at Broken River are reasonably easy to get on because they don’t start on a steep pitch. There are also two learner tows that don’t require a nutcracker, but they can be a good place to practise. The other advantage of BR is that there are no lift attendants so there’s not the pressure of someone watching you get on the ropetow whilst you’re embarrassing yourself! Of course there are people on hand for advice if you require.

The Ridge lift is slower and steeper than the other lifts, and if the lift stops you have to ski back down and push the green button to get it started again – quaint!

If you haven’t had enough action during day there’s always night skiing. It’s only scheduled for some nights and the illuminated ski area is not particularly large, but it’s a novel experience.

Lift Tickets

As is typical of NZ club fields, the lift tickets are “cheap as chips”. For an even more economical and flexible way to visit Broken River, use the Chill Pass which offers multi-day lift passes that are valid at various ski areas including Porters, Craigieburn, Mt Olympus and Temple Basin. If you’re planning to ski across to Craigieburn be aware that the Chill Pass can only be used on another day, so you’ll still only be able to do a couple of “complimentary” runs at CV.

The BR lift pass includes the complimentary use of nutcracker rope tow belt.

Snow and Weather Conditions

Broken River is renowned for its easterly layout that protects the ski area from the winds that can close other ski areas. BR is open more often than other neighbouring ski areas and is commonly open later in the season than most other NZ ski areas. The layout is also advantageous in that BR commonly collects more than its fair share of powder because it’s on the leeward side of the prevailing winds. This is Mother Nature’s version of a snow-maker. Mother Nature also provides plenty of “real” snowfall.

As is typical in NZ, the snow conditions at BR can be incredibly variable. You might score soft powder, wind groomed snow, crust or spring corn. This is the joy of New Zealand skiing and snowboarding!

Broken River has patrollers who monitor avalanche risk and manage it appropriately through the use of blasting and other mitigation strategies. There are general indicators of avalanche danger at the day lodge as well as a board that outlines which areas are open. Allan’s Basin and access to Craigieburn are not always open when avalanche risk is high.

Beginner Ski Terrain

Broken River has two beginners’ tows that service very small novice areas next to the Palmer’s day lodge. The major problem for beginners is getting up to this area. Options are a long walk or the daunting access tow. Either way it requires a beginner to be very adventurous. The gentle beginner slopes are supposed to be groomed but this wasn’t evident when the Powderhounds visited Broken River.

For the Intermediate

Broken River is not particularly well suited to intermediate groomed-run skiers or boarders. However, it’s perfect for strong intermediates with off-piste experience and there’s plenty of room in which to play in Happy Valley and Sunny Peak.

Skiing and Snowboarding for the Family/Kids

Broken River has some advantages for families. Kids under 13 ski for free and the beginner and intermediate terrain is within easy view of the day lodge. If children are not strong riders, the main limitation is getting up to the day lodge. Children would either have to hike, ride a nutcracker, or get a tow up behind a strong parent.

Parks & Pipes

Broken River is supposed to have some park features such as rails near the day lodge, but you’d be forgiven for not being able to find them. There might be a little jump near the day lodge and plenty of natural hits, but avid park riders would be better placed at a ski area such as Porters.

Advanced Skiing

The Nervous Knob chutes not only sound fun but they are fun! There are also some good rock drops in the areas below the day lodge. Most of Allan’s Basin is also a great playground for advanced skiers and boarders. When there’s plenty of snow cover you can follow the valley all the way down to the car park which offers a massive 1,000 metres of ski vertical (take that Big Mama!). If you can’t be bothered walking up to the lower rope-tow, save this run for last thing in the day.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

One of the joys of treeless NZ ski terrain is that you can easily see the gnarly lines within Allan’s Basin. The double blacks (labelled as “tricky”) around Double Bowl are challenging enough for most mere mortals, but the most challenging runs are the steep chutes on the faces that run just outside the Craigieburn border. “The Remarkables” are obviously not to be confused with those near Queenstown. A lot of traversing and a small degree of hiking is required to enter these lines and to get back to the first tow.

For the Powderhound

Some of the best powder stashes can be found at the top of the basins where the natural “snow-maker” blows in the white stuff. Broken River generally has very few visitors so the freshies in Allan’s Basin last a while, although in the main basin they often disappear by morning coffee. As to be expected, the gnarlier the line and the more effort required to get there, the fresher the powder.