Hanmer Springs Lifts & Terrain

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Hanmer Springs Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

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

Our Terrain Ratings

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

  • Vertical (m)
    1,459 – 1,769 (310)
  • Average Snow Fall
    1.5  metres
  • Lifts (3)
    1 ropetow
    1 poma
  • Ski Hours
    late June - mid Sept
  • Terrain Summary
    Size – 52 ha
    Beginner - 10%
    Intermediate - 60%
    Advanced - 30%

Hanmer Springs Ski Field Terrain

When the conditions at the Hanmer Spring Ski Field allow, the lifts run as early and as long as someone wants to ski them. Crowds midweek have NEVER been sighted. In fact, a crowded weekend might mean you have to stop at the bottom of the lift, as opposed to skiing straight on to it! Fresh lines last all day and longer.

The Hanmer Springs Ski Field terrain is a big intermediate alpine bowl with steeper edges to provide a few thrills for the advanced sliders. Hanmer’s no mega resort, but it is a small ski area left out all on its lonesome ready for skiers to get back to basics and rediscover what skiing is all about.

Hanmer Springs Ski Field is better appreciated by skiers than snowboarders. Perhaps head further south if you’re on a snowboard.


Three lifts get you up the hill: a ropetow; poma; and learners’ fixed grip tow. The rope tow is of the nutcracker variety. In reality the long poma would probably service the entire ski area and so the rope tow is essentially redundant (except for poor visibility days when they will be more inclined to run the rope tow rather than the poma).

The poma was installed way back in 1981, but it was purchased second hand from Whakapapa, which gives you an indication of why it looks like an ancient relic.

Hanmer Springs Snow and Weather

This is New Zealand skiing. And being New Zealand the snow and weather can provide huge extremes from one day to the next. Weather can be driving rain, howling wind, whiteouts, blizzards, and weeks of sunshine or freezing cold. Snow quality can be a foot of pow, boiler plate ice, crud, slush, corn and everything in between. Unfortunately the Hanmer Springs snow tends to be more bad than good, because the aspect of the ski field is not favourable.

Put simply, Hanmer Springs is like anywhere. Go when it’s good and it’s great. Go when it is bad.......... and you’ll enjoy the hospitality in the lodge or a soak in the hot springs!

A few pointers to enjoying Hanmer. If the forecast is for a dump – get up the road before it does. If there is a low cloud base and the ski area is socked in, it is doubtful any lifts will run (although the rope tow might). Try to visit when the snow base is over a metre. Also, remember that the ski season at Hanmer is short and double check that the ski field is operating before you make the trek there.

There is a grooming machine, which is not something you take for granted at a NZ club field, but the runs are not groomed everyday, probably because they think it’s not worth it for the few visitors.

Beginner Skiing Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs Ski Field has only a very small beginner area, for rank beginners just finding their feet on skis. The slope can be viewed from the day lodge lounge, so it’s easy to keep an eye on the newbies.

Hanmer Springs Intermediate Terrain

All of the groomed terrain off the lifts is good enough for intermediates. The off-piste terrain adjacent to the groomed runs can be variable depending on the snow conditions. In good conditions, intermediates will prosper, but in crud or heavy powder it is advanced terrain. The Bordeaux Basin is the pick of the runs for intermediates.

Advanced Skiing and Snowboarding

Advanced skiers won’t be greatly challenged in the main bowl, but the off-piste will throw up some interest. The real action is in the backside bowl called Spring Favourite. A number of steepish chutes and cornices fall away from the ridge of the bowl. You can continue down as long as the snow cover allows and walk back up or cut off earlier to the left and ski down Snowboarders Favourite to the base lodge.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Several cornices and chutes in the Spring Favourite bowl qualify as expert terrain, but otherwise there isn’t much on offer, unless of course you hit the backcountry.

For the Powder Hound

On a powder day where it has snowed to low altitudes, drop into the Spring Favourite bowl and ski down all the way to the South Col car park (ask the patroller). It is an easy walk back up the road to the base where you can do it all again.