Pic: Cardrona Alpine ResortFor the skiing and boarding aficionado, winter in New Zealand is sweet! There's clear blue skies, snowy peaks and fresh powder. But there's also a superb array of festivals as well from heli championships to BMX events and chocolate carnivals, plus VIP Backpackers has accommodation and activity packages so you can stay right near the action and save while you're there!
(Pic above: Cardrona Alpine Resort).

The ski fields: South island / North island | Skiing and boarding for beginners | Snow driving safety 101| Other activities beyond the snow
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Once you've decided you're going skiing/boarding you just have to decide where. And thanks to to an enormous band of mountains running right through the country there are ski fields to be found on the north and south island. The ski season runs from June until late October.


Queenstown ski fields
Pic: Coronet PeakCoronet Peak is a popular mountain resort on the south island and just 25 minutes from groovy Queenstown. It also has night skiing and heli skiing which equate to longer on-snow hours than anywhere else!
The Remarkables ski field has great powder and spring snow and is popular with snowboarders and free skiers. It also has a tubing park and novice terrain park for first timers. It's 45 minutes from Queenstown.
Snow packages | Accommodation

Further afield in Otago
The Invincible Snowfields are for heliskiing and snowcat skiing only and one hour from Queenstown near Glenorchy.

Wanaka ski fields
Pic: Cardrona Alpine ResortCardrona Alpine Resort is 35 minutes from Wanaka and suitable for people of all abilities; perfect if you're in a group. Views from the slopes are to die for on a clear day.
Other ski field options near Wanaka include Treble Cone, Snow Park and Snow Farm
Accommodation in: Wanaka

Canterbury ski fields
Pic: Mt HuttMount Hutt (90 mins from Christchurch, 40 mins from Methven) is world renowned so you may have already heard of it. It has the longest ski season in the country and some of the best powder you'll find anywhere.
Other fantastic fields in this part of the country include: Mount Lyford (private ski resort, 146km from Christchurch, 60km from Kaikoura)
Mount Potts (helskiing and snowcatting 2 hours from Christchurch)
Mount Dobson (2 hours from Christchurch, 3 hours from Queenstown and Dunedin)
Ohau (4 hours south of Christchurch, 3 hours north of Dunedin)
Porters Ski Area (1 hour from Christchurch)
Roundhill (3 hours from Christchurch/Queenstown)
Tasman Glacier (Mt Cook/Aoraki, heliskiing, glacier skiing)
Accommodation in: Springfield | Queenstown

Nelson Lakes ski fields
Rainbow (1.5 hours from Nelson, 1.5 hours Picton). Open mid July until mid October, this is a great field to traverse if you're up on the northern part of the south island.
Accommodation in: Picton


Tongariro National Park
Pic: mtruapehu.comMount Ruapehu (1.25 hours from Taupo, 2 hours from Rotorua, 4 hours Auckland, 4-5 hours Wellington). For an experience of real volcanic terrain and superb views consider action on Mt Ruapehu. There are two commercial ski areas; Whakapapa and Turoa. Turoa has Australasia's longest vertical descent and New Zealand's highest lift, which is great for advanced skiers and boarders but there are plenty of options for those less capable. Whakapapa is the nation's largest ski area with more than 65 trails. (Pic above:
Accommodation in: TongariroOhakune | Taupo | Rotorua | Auckland | Wellington

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Pic: www.visitedplanet.comNever skied or boarded before? Don't worry! All major fields have beginner slopes, lessons and gear to hire although you should bring sunglasses, thermals and warm layers. Check the FAQs on the skifield sites listed above for more details.

Here are some basics for your time in the white:
* Get the right gear (borrow, beg, rent, buy) but just make sure it fits
* Dress warmly - no jeans or sweatpants
* Expect to fall down and have difficulty getting up! You may find it scary at first and there will be kids that ski better than you
* Learn the snow plough to slow down, then master essentials like stopping and turning
* Be prepared to laugh at yourself and try again!

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Pic: www.visitedplanet.comIf you've never driven in snow before, here are some tips to make your holiday safe and enjoyable.
* Driving on snow or ice is not like a normal asphalt surface or even gravel
* Don't speed, take off too fast and avoid sudden changes in direction or braking.
* Always brake and accelerate evenly, pump the brakes on slippery surfaces
* Get chains fitted to your car and put your lights on
* Leave a big gap to the car in front of you
* Check conditions before you set out and obey road signs
* If in doubt park your car and use public transport

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While skiing and associated events are what it's all about in a New Zealand winter there are other things to do. Here's some more details from our "what's on" list this month:

> Rotorua marathon (4). The best way to work up a sweat this autumn is the 49th annual Rotorua marathon
Pic: Winter FestivalJUNE
American Express Queenstown Winter Festival (21-30). Queenstown comes alive with this winter festival featuring food, entertainment, action on the ice, in the skies, at the ball, in music and more! (Pic right: Winter Festival)
> Matariki (10 June). Ring in the Maori new year wherever you are in the country.
Pic:> The Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival (20-26). If you like all things sweet and dark, Dunedin is the place to be in July. The world famous Jaffa race is worth a look in if nothing else when 25,000 thousands of them are released from the top of Baldwin St, aka the steepest street in the world, down the 38% grade to the finish. (Pic right:

> Winter Games NZ (15-25) Various venues, Lake Wanaka & Queenstown. More on piste action to take in at these venues on the south island. Check the schedule for details.
> Visa Wellington on a Plate (9-25). For the tasty delights of Wellington head to this annual festival, considered one of New Zealand's premier culinary events.
Pic: Cardrona Alpine Resort> Junior World Heli Challenge (26 July - August 3), Treble Cone.
> World Heli Challenge (5-22) Mt Aspiring National Park, Wanaka. For all the heli action you can stomach Wanaka is the place to go in late July and early August for the world titles.
(Pic right: Cardrona Alpine Resort).
> The North Face Freeski Open of New Zealand (7-8), The Remarkables, Queenstown. If you haven't had enough white action yet the final ski event of the season hits the slopes of the Remarkables in September.
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