New Zealand

Essentially, there are two places to ski in the North American summers: South America and New Zealand. Of the two, New Zealand is more of an adventurous ski mountaineering zone. Yes, there are some mellower places to ski around Queenstown and there’s some fun resort shredding to be had as well (in the 90’s, I snowboarded at The Remarkables and had an incredible powder day), but the ski mountaineering objectives are where it’s really at.

Access great terrain via helicopter, like Aoraki-Mount Cook, shown here with the Malte Brun Range

New Zealand skiing is split mostly between two main islands, the North Island and the South Island, with plenty of alpine terrain on both of the islands and if you are lucky, it can be really good. Getting between ski zones is easy and there is a lot of access to abundant backcountry terrain as well as a great alpine hut system. For even more convenient access into the alpine areas, New Zealand has plenty of terrain accessed by helicopter, so hitch a lift and save your legs for the big descents.

Aoraki-Mount Cook for ski mountaineering

For ski mountaineers, Aoraki-Mount Cook is a highly prized objective, with some very extreme and wild lines that grace its flanks. This big, glaciated mountain and the area surrounding it is in the Southern Alps on the South Island of New Zealand. With a large network of alpine huts, this area has endless options for ski touring and mountaineering, with Tasman Glacier being one of the highlights.

The main thing to contend with in New Zealand is the weather. Since it’s a narrower island, it is really affected by the weather off the ocean, with powerful winds that blow across this range. From what I have seen online and heard through friends, it is not often covered in soft shreddable snow, but with more wind blasted, challenging snow. My friends that have backcountry skied here, mentioned that lots of approaches are over rocky trails and that they wore their soles of their boots down and then the alpine they accessed was amazing but their gear took a bit of a beating.

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