Mt Cheeseman Lifts & Terrain

Mt Cheeseman 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)
    1,527 – 1,847 (320)
  • Average Snow Fall
    ?  metres
  • Lifts (3)
    2 T-bars
    1 learner tow
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am - 4:00pm
    early July - Oct
  • Terrain Summary
    Beginner - 15%
    Intermediate - 50%
    Advanced - 35%

Mount Cheeseman Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The Mount Cheeseman ski and snowboard terrain in-bounds is reasonably small and contained within a basin. Mt Cheeseman ski field has both groomed runs and off-piste terrain, and it has something for all ability levels. The lower part of the ski field is ideal for beginners and intermediate riders, whilst the upper part of the Mt Cheeseman ski resort is much steeper. Adjacent to the ski field is an out-of-bounds bowl with some more pitchy terrain.

Mt Cheeseman Lifts

Mt Cheeseman has three lifts: a learners’ rope tow (one that doesn’t require a nutcracker and harness); the Main T-bar; and the Ridge T-bar. Whilst definitely not as a comfie as a chair lift or a lovely gondola (good luck trying to find one of those in New Zealand!), the T-bars seem an absolute breeze to ride, particularly for those not practised in the art of the nutcracker ropetow.

There are plans afoot to expand the in-bounds terrain to include Tarn Basin (skiers’ right of the current ski field), and to construct a tow from the Tarn Lake to the top of the saddle (near the current bootpack out of Tarn Basin) to return skiers to the main Cheeseman basin. The tow will provide 200 metres of vertical.

Lift Tickets

The Mount Cheeseman lift passes are reasonably inexpensive, particularly relative to the big commercial New Zealand ski resorts. Youth tickets (under 18) are cheap, kids under 10 ski free, whilst the beginners lift ticket is really cheap.

Mt Cheeseman is also accessible using the Chill Pass.

Mt Cheeseman Snow

The statistic regarding the average snowfall per season is unknown, but as with the rest of the New Zealand ski resorts, it’s not substantial. With regards to snow quality, this is New Zealand skiing, so the snow can vary enormously from nice powder to mashed potatoes, ice, crud, or absent snow cover. The left hand side of the ski field (ie lookers’ left) gets sunbaked (one of the runs is called Sunny Face), so powder doesn’t last long here, and at times it’s devoid of snow cover. Many of the black runs on the right side of the ski field (lookers’ right) remain in the shade most of the day, so if ice develops here it may not soften during the day.

For the Beginner

Mt Cheeseman is very well suited to first timers and little kids learning to ski. The learners’ tow is right outside the day lodge, so parents can sit in the sun and easily watch the littlies mastering the snow plough. The mellow learners’ slope is rather small but for novices it’s fine.

Learners’ lift tickets are really cheap, and the beginners’ packages (lesson, lift and equipment) are also very inexpensive.

More confident beginners can hit the Main T-Bar and follow the meandering green trail down. It’s a pretty narrow trail, and sometimes the snow cover either side is lacking, so there’s not always much room for error.

For the Intermediate

Intermediates have a handful of groomed blue trails off the Main T-Bar. There isn’t a huge amount of variety, but confident intermediates can easily tackle the off-piste and bumps on the lower half of the mountain.

Terrain Park

I’m not sure if I’d go so far as to call it a terrain park, but the grooming staff usually make some decent size jumps for those that like to launch.

Advanced Skiing Mt Cheeseman

The second T-Bar (the Ridge T-bar) provides some steeper slopes that are suited to advanced riders. Either side of the T-bar are a series of off-piste lines within the bowl. These can be accessed straight off the lift or via a traverse, or a hike up the ridge to Mt Cockayne will provide a smidgeon more vertical, more freshies, and awesome views. Being a New Zealand ski field there are no trees, but there isn’t much other variation in the terrain either. It’s not quite like some other clubbies where there are an abundance of big rocks, cliff-ettes and chutes to keep things really interesting. Mt Cheeseman has only a handful of short chutes on the skiers’ left at the bottom of the ridge, and this area needs decent snow cover.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The in-bounds terrain is reasonably steep, but there’s nothing that will scare the pants off expert skiers and snowboarders. Experts will probably want to hit the backcountry.


The backcountry/side-country to the skiers’ right of the ski field is called Tarn Basin. It is currently the backcountry (until the Tarn Tow is installed) so it’s not patrolled or avalanche controlled. Check in with ski patrol before you head out, take a buddy, and don yourself with avalanche safety equipment and know-how.

Some lines are easily accessible from the top of the 2nd T-bar, or with just a couple of minutes of tramping (as the kiwis call it!). This area is highly likely to be untracked (or have minimal tracks), and the slopes have a great pitch of about 35-40 degrees. Or with more of a hike along the ridge, there are some lovely chutes on the right hand side of the basin. A boot pack out is required to get up to the saddle and return to the ski field.