Mt Lyford 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)
    1,300 – 1,750 (450)
  • Average Snow Fall
    ?  metres
  • Lifts (5)
    1 T-bar
    1 Platter
  • Ski Season
    mid June - late Sept
  • Terrain Summary
    Advanced - 30%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Beginner - 30%

Mt Lyford Ski and Snowboard Terrain

For a relatively small ski hill, Mt Lyford has a big mountain feel minus all the negatives (i.e. the crew that run it aren’t up themselves!). Enjoy!


Mt Lyford has four lifts, one T-bar, one platter and two rope tows. If you’re on a snowboard, make sure you can ride all manner of drag lifts or you’ll have a bad day.

The Paradise Valley Platter covers both sides of a valley so it is in effect two lifts, not one. The platter covers intermediate terrain below the main lodge and is relatively short but nice.

The Cloud T-bar services intermediate slopes and a terrain park, plus provides access to the advanced Terako rope tow.

Of the two rope tows, one is dedicated to a good beginners slope and snow tubing area, and has fixed handles attached. The other is the advanced rope tow up to the summit of Mt Terako which requires the use of a ‘nutcracker’. This is one of the better nutcracker rope tows in New Zealand to learn on as it has a long downhill entry, which gives one time and speed to get attached to the rope. Watch out at the exit though. If the snowpack is deep, you literally exit into a wall of snow. If you’re not quick, the ski tips go in and calamity rapidly follows you from behind! Tow belts and nutcrackers are available for hire and are of a reasonable quality. A recent bonus for advanced intermediates is that the Terako rope tow has doubled in length for season 2011, extending the lifted terrain 450 metres further down the hill.

Lift maintenance at Lyford might be a bit questionable if the late morning pile of broken T-bars at the base of the Cloud lift is anything to go by….

Lift Tickets

Compared to other major ski resorts, single day lift tickets are quite expensive, but the bills have got to be paid, so c'est la vie. Another alternative is the ‘Chill 2 Northern’ pass which covers Mt Lyford and Hanmer Springs. 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. Mt Lyford in particular benefits from winter storms with a south easterly aspect. These storms can deliver masses of snow to Lyford (and Hanmer Springs) but will provide little to other South Island resorts.

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, Mt Lyford is like anywhere in New Zealand. Go when it’s good and it’s great. Go when it is bad.......... and you’ll enjoy the hospitality in the Lyford Lodge because the hill will probably be closed!

Mt Lyford will tend to be closed during periods of high winds, whiteouts and heavy snow.

Beginner Skiing and Boarding

Great little beginners lift with dedicated handle rope tow.

Intermediate Ski and Board 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 becomes advanced terrain. “Cruise” off the Cloud T-bar, and (if you can deal with it) “Thriller”, off the Terako rope tow, are the pick of the runs for intermediates.

For the Family/Kids

All of the groomed terrain accessible from the learner rope tow, platter and T-bar is suitable for families.

For the Park Junky

The Wild Ride Terrain Park and some good natural hits are serviced by the Cloud T-bar. The International Truck Jump below the day lodge will provide some fun photo ops with a cracking backdrop.

For the Advanced Skier or Boarder

Mt Terako and some of the lines below the resort in the 3rd Basin/Lyford Face provide all the action for advanced skiers. On Terako the run called Exhibition says it all as punters in the day lodge can assess your skill, or lack of it, from the balcony.

For the Expert

Some of the steeper lines down the Mt Terako face will please experts (the first sign of fear is turning!). However the hike up the Lyford Face from the bottom of the Learner’s tow will test you with a bit of inbounds back country to ski lines like Hamish’s Drop and Doug’s Folly. All skiers hiking up the Lyford Face need to sign in at the ticket office before going. If skiing Doug’s Folly you will need to arrange a pick up to get back up the road.

For the Powderhound

On a powder day you’ll be itching to get up Mt Terako. Just keep an eye on the rope tow and when it starts turning go, go, go! A short hike to the summit and let ‘em rip. Alternatively, a massive bowl exists below the main car park in an old lifted area called The Jewel. You’ll need a pick up down the bottom, but it will be worth it.