Overall Rating

Ride The BIG 5

Ride The BIG 50/50
Ride The BIG 50 out of 5 based on 0 reviews
  • Would Do Again
  • Would Recommend
Ride The BIG 5

Suggested 7 - 14 Day Self-Guided Itinerary

Location: Mt Hutt , The Remarkables , Treble Cone , Wanaka , New Zealand
This 11-day self-guided self-drive itinerary covers all of the major ski resorts on NZ's South Island plus some opportunities for heli skiing. It could be easily adjusted to a 7-day (dropping the heli skiing) or 14 day tour to cover even more ski areas such as Ohao, Round Hill, Mt Dobson & even a side-trip to Mt Cook.
Self-Drive Ski Tour to NZ's BIG 5This DIY tour takes in the "BIG 5" ski areas on New Zealand's south island: Mt Hutt (near Methven), Treble Cone and Cardrona (near Wanaka), plus The Remarkables and Coronet Peak (near Queenstown). If you are self-driving and you have some extra time, there is also potentially visit some of the New Zealand club fields along the way. For example, on transit from Methven to Wanaka you drive right by a couple of great little ski areas; Mt Dobson and Round Hill. You could add a night or 2 and stay in Tekapo and maybe even add a day in Ohau on the way from Tekapo to Wanaka.

The best time to do this trip is between mid July and mid September.

New Zealand is such an easy place to get around by car, so we highly recommend this DIY tour for your next ski holiday in NZ. Having a car provides the autonomy to go where and when you want to go. One thing to be aware of is that the access roads up to most ski areas in New Zealand are steep, narrow, muddy & slippery (with the exception of Coronet Peak and Round Hill), so consider spending the extra money to hire a 4WD car (with snow chains). If you don't feel confident driving in these conditions, you can still self-drive between the towns and take a shuttle bus up to the mountain each day.

There are several ways you can start this trip, however we have always liked to start at Mt Hutt where things are a bit more relaxed and laidback, and work our way south to the hustle and bustle and excitement of Queenstown. You can then either drop the car at Queenstown airport and fly back to Christchurch, or drive back up (which is only about 6 hours if you drive it directly). It doesn't really matter which order you do the trip.

Day 1 - Travel Christchurch to Methven (Overnight Methven)

Fly into Christchurch airport and pick up the hire car (usually this will be from the airport) to drive to Methven, a very easy 1:30 hour drive.  Methven is the closest town to Mt Hutt and where most people base themselves for skiing at Mt Hutt and the many club fields in the area.

Click here for Methven accommodation options.

Day 2 - Ski Mt Hutt (Overnight Methven)

Mt Hutt is one of our favourite ski resorts in New Zealand. It has something for just about everyone. It is child friendly, ideal for intermediates who want to rip up the groomers, and great for advanced skiers who want to head off-piste or ski chutes or steep bumps. On the down-side, Mt Hutt has a reputation for extreme weather conditions and can close due to high winds and / or poor visibility. It is not the end of the world though, as there are various ski fields within easy driving distance from Methven that are often open when Mt Hutt is closed such as Mt Olympus and Porters. Or a little further afield are Craigieburn and Broken River.

Day 3 - Ski Mt Hutt / Methven Heli Ski (Overnight Methven)

If your budget allows for it and you are a strong intermediate rider or above, consider a day of heli skiing with Methven Heliski for the greatest day of your life! Methven Heli has some of the best heli skiing terrain you will find anywhere in New Zealand.

If heli skiing is not for you or doesn't fit the budget, head to Mt Hutt for another day of resort skiing (or one of the other nearby ski fields).

Day 4 - Ski Mt Hutt / Travel to Wanaka (Overnight Wanaka)

You could potentially do another half or full day skiing at Mt Hutt in this day or you could take a leisurely morning breakfast in Methven before getting on the road for your journey southwards to Wanaka. 

(This is where you could potentially add a night or 2 and stay at Lake Tekapo and ski at Round Hill, Mt Dobson & Ohua on-route to Wanaka).

The town of Wanaka is a magnificent picturesque village located on the shores of Lake Wanaka. We highly recommend staying at The Oakridge Resort or Edgewater Lake Wanaka. Also see other Wanaka accommodation options here.

Day 5 - Ski Treble Cone / Cardrona (Overnight Wanaka)

Treble Cone is renowned as being one of the best, if not the best ski areas in New Zealand. It offers incredibly diverse terrain and a good lift infrastructure. This mountain tends to be more suited to intermediate to advanced riders. Beginners and kids are catered for, but Cardrona is a far better option for these ability levels.

Day 6 - Ski Treble Cone / Cardrona / Heliski (Overnight Wanaka)

If you haven't been heli skiing yet, or you got a taste for powder and the exhilaration of heli skiing in Methven and your budget is holding up, we can highly recommend Harris Mountains Heliski. These guys are the largest heli ski operator in New Zealand and have some exceptional terrain around Lake Wanaka.

Day 7 - Ski Cardrona - En-route to Queenstown (Overnight Queenstown)

Given that you drive right past the entrance to Cardrona, it is ideal to use this opportunity to ski at Cardrona. At the end of the day be sure to have a couple of apres bevies at the Cardrona Hotel at the base of the ski hill.

There is a huge amount of accommodation in Queenstown and prices tend to be quite reasonable due to high competition. If you want something a little special (and yet still very well priced) we recommend the Heritage Hotel. At the moderate to budget end of the scale and perfectly positioned, we recommend the M-Pad Hotel. See all Queenstown Accommodation options here.

Day 8 - Ski Coronet Peak (Overnight Queenstown)

Coronet Peak is an easy 20 minute drive from Queenstown. It is renowned for its exceptional child-friendliness and family facilities. There is not a lot here for expert skiers but there are some great thigh-burning groomers, and the topography provides natural terrain park features for those who like a little air-time.

Day 9 - Ski The Remarkables (Overnight Queenstown)

The Remarkables ski resort is about 45 minutes drive from Queenstown and is ideal for beginners and intermediates. There is also some great expert riding available if you are prepared to hike to it.

Day 10 - Ski Coronet Peak / Remarkables / Heli Ski (Overnight Queenstown)

OK this is your last chance to go heliskiing, so why not end your trip on an extreme high note! There are a couple of choices of reputable heli ski operations in Queenstown; Harris Mountains HeliskiAlpine Heliski and Southern Lakes Heliski.

Day 11- Fly / Drive Queenstown to Christchurch / Auckland

In some cases (particularly from Australia) international flights are available directly to / from Queenstown. This will definitely shave transit time off your trip, but often seats are limited and they tend to be expensive compared to flying into Christchurch or Auckland and then taking a domestic flight. Find cheap flights to New Zealand here.