Porters Lifts & Terrain

Porters Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

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

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
    Porters Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,302 - 1,980 (678)
  • Average Snow Fall
    ? metres
  • Lifts (6)
    1 Quad Chair
    1 Platter
    3 T-bars
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am to 4:00pm
    Late June to early Oct
  • Terrain Summary
    Longest run – ? km
    Advanced - 35%
    Intermediate - 50%
    Beginner - 15%

Porters Ski Area Terrain

The Porters ski area features great learner and easy intermediate slopes, but also terrain to challenge the semi professionals. The Porters ski terrain at the base is very gentle and suitable for beginners and intermediates. Higher up the mountain the terrain becomes steeper.

The Porters Ski Resort is not large, but the vertical drop is impressive. It’s certainly not like Europe, but by New Zealand standards it’s pretty good. And if snow conditions are optimal you can ride some of the terrain outside the resort boundaries down to the road, providing even more vertical.

Porters Lifts

Porters ski area is serviced by a quad chair lift, a novices’ magic carpet, and a beginners’ platter lift. Above the chair lift are 3 T-bars that travel up the guts of the ski area. The first T-bar is annoyingly short, but I guess they couldn’t take the chair lift up a fraction further because the hill gets a little steeper and it wouldn’t be an easy blue run serviced by the chair.

Lift Tickets

Whilst the lift tickets are cheaper than at the Queenstown and Wanaka ski fields, the Porters lift tickets seem expensive considering the limited infrastructure on offer. Although when you compare Porters to the club fields (where it’s only a little cheaper) the lift ticket prices seem quite reasonable. Added to that, Porters has lots of deals to make it very affordable including 2 for 1 Mondays, student Tuesdays, kids under 12 ski free deals, and ridiculously cheap beginners’ packages. Those who complete a 4 day beginner program are then entitled to a free seasons pass!

Another economical way to purchase Porters lift tickets is by using the Chill pass, which is also valid at lots of other NZ ski fields.

The best thing about Porters lift tickets is that if the conditions are a bit questionable, you can still go up the mountain and give it a try. If you’re not happy with the conditions by 10:30am you can get a voucher for a lift ticket on another day.

Porters Snow & Weather

The Porters snow can be unreliable and the natural snow cover somewhat lacking at times, especially on the sunny Big Mama side. At least there is a little bit of snowmaking capability to supplement the cover on the lower groomers.

It’s not known how much snowfall Porters receives on average per season, but the ski area is reputed to be in a snow shadow and receive much less than neighbouring ski fields such as Craigieburn and Broken River. A ripper of a rumour is that when the developers of Porters were scouting out its initial location, it was supposed to go into Crystal Bowl where it snows a lot (adjacent to the Porters ski area) and they accidentally put it in the wrong spot! Thankfully master development plans for the Porters ski resort include major expansion into Crystal Bowl.

The Porters ski area is slightly more protected from the weather than some of the neighbouring ski fields and the access road is a little less gnarly. Like other NZ ski resorts, Porters can sometimes be shut due to wind and lack of visibility. However when other ski fields are closed, Porters sometimes has the advantage that it can at least keep the beginners’ area and terrain park open.

Ski Porters - For the Beginner

The beginners’ ski area isn’t particularly large but it is delightfully friendly for nervous novices. First timers can start on the long magic carpet, progress onto the easy to ride platter lift, and then onto the chair lift.

Intermediate Skiing Porters

Porters ski area doesn’t have a lot of terrain on offer for intermediates, particularly those who want to ride on corduroy (but at least there’s a lot more blue terrain than most of the club fields). Aptly named Easy Street is a reasonably easy blue run serviced by the quad chair lift, which is nice and wide with plenty of room for experimenting. Off the top T-bar is a steeper blue run, albeit rather short. Otherwise the only other groomed blue run is McNulty’s, which is annoyingly long and mostly just the width of a cat track (so not really a proper run).

Terrain Park

“The Community Park” has marked hits of differing levels of difficulty, but it could broadly be termed a beginner to intermediate terrain park, suitable for children as well as the young at heart.

The park has evolved dramatically over recent years and some good design and summer grooming has formed three terraces. Combined with snowmaking facilities, the park is fully operational even when there is a limited snow base.

The terrain park is well located next to the chair lift. Even if the weather’s not great, the terrain park has a high likelihood of being open.

Advanced Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Porters ski resort has a variety of lines for the advanced skier and snowboarder off the top lift. “Marked” advanced runs include Headwall, Julian’s Bowl, McNulty’s Basin and Big Mama (snow cover permitting), although you can pretty much take your pick off-piste. Better snow is generally to the skiers’ left off the T-bar and there are also some rocks and chutes in here to keep it interesting.

Like many other NZ ski fields, a huge degree of traversing is required to get to many of the lines.

Expert Skiing Terrain

A legendary slope at Porters is Bluff Face which is an advanced to expert run. It often scores some wind buff coming off the bluff and the aspect is good, so the snow can feel a little fluffy even if it hasn’t snowed recently. It’s a steep long run, but unfortunately it takes a lot of lifts to get back around to do laps. If you can be super patient and keep on traversing, you can head around to “Don’t Miss” which is more challenging than Bluff Face.

Porters like to boast about Big Mama (skiers’ right), which is a very long run that is awesome with fresh powder. Unfortunately Big Mama sometimes suffers from thin or absent snow cover (and once again requires lots of lifts to get back to the top).

Easily accessed beyond the boundaries of the resort is more great terrain. A traverse across to Crystal Valley opens up plenty of lines which can be skied down to the road. The shuttle buses that operate on powder days can then take you back up to the lifts.

To get to Powder Bowl beyond Big Mama requires a bit of a hike. The sugar bowl is also worthwhile and you can traverse back to the lifts or you can continue down to the road if there’s adequate cover and get the shuttle bus back up.

All these backcountry areas are avalanche prone so check the avalanche risk with ski patrol before going, and take the appropriate avalanche safety gear.