Hanmer Springs Lifts & Terrain

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
    Advanced - 30%
    Intermediate - 60%
    Beginner - 10%

Hanmer Springs Ski and Snowboard Terrain

What’s not to love about Hanmer Springs ski area? When the conditions 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 may 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 terrain is a big intermediate alpine bowl with steeper edges to provide the thrills for the advanced sliders. Hanmer’s no mega resort, but it is a small piece from a mega resort left out all on its lonesome ready for skiers to get back to basics and rediscover what skiing is all about.


Two lifts, one poma and one rope tow get you up the hill. The rope tow is of the nutcracker variety. In reality the 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).

Lift Tickets

Compared to other major ski resorts, single day lift tickets for non-members are not that cheap. Vastly cheaper lift tickets are available if you stay at the accommodation and get multi-day passes (i.e. 3 days lift for the price of two). Another alternative is the ‘Chill 2 Northern’ pass which covers Hanmer Springs and Mt Lyford (www.chillout.co.nz). The savings aren’t that great but some might find it convenient.

Snow and Weather Conditions

This is New Zealand. 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. 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!

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, early July to mid September only.

For the Beginner

Hanmer Springs has only a very small beginner area, for rank beginners just finding their feet on skis. There is no lift suitable for beginners.

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 Bordeax Basin is the pick of the runs for intermediates.

For the Family/Kids

Most of the groomed terrain accessible from the poma is suitable for families. It is a compact ski area so you can let the kids go for it.

For the Shredder

Hanmer Springs ski area is not the greatest hill for the knuckle-draggers. It really is a better ski hill, perhaps head further south if you’re on a snowboard.

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 of the backside bowl called Spring Favourite. A number of steepish chutes and cornice fall away from the ridge of the bowl. You can continue down as long 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 Powderhound

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.