A club operated ski area in Canterbury, New Zealand. 115km from Christchurch. The terrain is a series of rolling bowls with runs to challenge all levels of snowboarders and skiers. The surrounding basins provide superb untracked 'back country' terrain for the more adventurous. Operated by a mix of volunteer club members and professional staff, the ski area is open to everyone, and members are very welcoming. On-snow accommodation.
The awesome terrain, fresh snow and irrepressible club spirit all combine to create a memorable ski experience. This is different to any "resort" you have ever been to. If you are a confident skier or rider, you will have a ball.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
Off Highway 73 (the road between Christchurch and Arthur's Pass) in the Craigieburn Range.
- On-snow accommodation in three lodges.
- No lift queues.
- Usually open more days per year than any other South Island ski area.
- Powder, powder, powder. Usually the best snow in the region.
- Friendly club members, keen to help you have an awesome time.
- Steep rope tow lifts, take a while to get the hang of. Beginners often struggle.
- Rough road. 4WD/chains/skills required, or take a ride with a transport operator.
Phone: +64 3 318 8713
Fax: +64 3 318 7270
Postal: PO Box 2718, Christchurch
- Fly to Christchurch and get transport from there.
- Near the date of your trip check SnowPool which is a great car pooling site to see if you can get a ride with someone
- Cars can be hired at the airport, but that can be an expensive option.
- Black Diamond Safaris, 0800SNOWORK Snowork Tours and Alpine Expeditions are three Christchurch transport companies that go up to the club ski areas like BR, in 4WD wagons.
- The road is rough gravel, often requiring chains in winter, 4WD is very useful also.
- If you are driving up yourself, post your ride on SnowPool so others can share the petrol costs with you (and you'll be doing them a favour)
If you are not confident driving on gravel roads in winter conditions, you could park at the picnic area and public shelter just after the turnoff from the highway, and hitch up from there. Anyone will give you a lift.
If you are coming in a camper van, please do not drive beyond the tractor shed (where the big yellow groomer is parked). Above there the road gets a bit more gnarly. Passing traffic will give you a lift up the next two zig-zags to Hanomag carpark.
Three club lodges, open to all comers. Differing grades (and hence prices) from fully serviced with chef, to BYO and self-cater. Fully catered is most popular, hence you will need to book ahead.
Quite a few options.
Flock Hill lodge has a variety of 1-2 brm motel units, cottages and backpacker accommodation a few kms from the bottom of the Craigieburn and Broken River access roads. You can self-cater in the units, or eat at their restaurant. This can be really good value for two couples willing to share a unit and vehicle hire, and self-cater their food (brought from a supermarket in Christchurch).
Backpackers or motel accommodation at Springfield. Springfield is about halfway betwen Christchurch and BR/Craigieburn, (i.e. 40-45 mins from the carpark) and a similar distance from Mount Hutt, in a different direction.
Or you can even tent/vehicle camp for free at the bottom of the BR access road (brrrrr...) where there is a 3-sided public shelter to cook in, a stream to get drinking water from, and a pit toilet in the bush.
2008: non members NZ $60 adult all day (9am-5pm). Members $36 adult all day (ask about membership - see the website). Student non member $50, member $30.
Instructor resident. Really good value private lessons.
If you stay two or more nights in on-snow accommodation you get a bonus free group ski lesson on the day between your nights accommodation.
No ski hire on the mountain. You need to sort this out in Christchurch before coming up.
McEwing's is at 200 Yaldhurst Road, Christchurch, the road heading out of town towards the ski areas. A few minutes drive beyond the city limits, at the small settlement of Yaldhurst itself, is Gnomes Ski Hire at a Shell service station.
It's all by nutcracker rope tow, and/or hiking. But the snow is worth it. See http://wikiski.com/wiki/index.php/Club_skiing_in_NZ#How_do_I_ride_a_rope_tow.3F "Rigger's Gloves" (ideal for rope tows) are sold at Broken River for about $35.
Mix of professionals and volunteers who know the area well, and work hard to keep it safe for all. Ski patrol room downstairs at Palmer Lodge in the middle of the ski area.
- Carpark at 1120m (locally known as Hanomag carpark)
- At carpark, load skis, packs and other equipment onto a goods lift, which will haul them up to the ski lodge for you.
- Walk uphill from carpark to find ski area, approx 20-25 mins on a track through the bush. Bring sturdy boots. Track can be slippery, 4-point instep crampons are very useful, and sold at the ski area for about $30.
Skiing. Snowboarding. Socialising.
Great evening meals prepared by the chef in Lyndon lodge. Or assist cooking in BR Lodge. Or self-cater in White Star Lodge.
Palmer Lodge (day lodge on ski area) has a full kitchen to prepare your own lunches, and free tea and coffee. Plus a small canteen selling pies, noodles and other snacks, plus drinks.
Bars & Entertainment
Entertainment is a few quiet ones with friendly club members after a hard day skiing the steep and deep. Alcohol available on mounatin.
Souvenir t-shirts, beanies, caps, and fleeces available. Limited lunch food on mountain, along with sunblock and a few other little extras.
Lots of kids ride at BR. But they are tough little buggers who grew up there. Your kids probably better be teenage if they are to enjoy (cope with) the rope tows.
Small and obvious right outside the day lodge.
Small, and just outside the day lodge.
Everything else you see is all untracked and ungroomed. Bring yer fat skis.
Lots of steep chutes, double black diamond stuff.
Out of Bounds
Yep. Lots of that.
Bring your transceiver, probe and shovel, and ski with mates who know their snow safety skills. And speak to the friendly ski patrol before heading out back, you want to survive don't you?
People tour the backcountry on Alpine Touring or Telemark gear, and skins. Not much scope for fishscale bases. Skinny nordic skis are no use. Tours between the ski areas are possible, e.g. BR to Craigieburn Valley (15-20 mins), BR to Mount Cheeseman (2 hours or so).
- See Craigieburns for more details of tours between the ski areas of the Craigieburn Range.
Parks & Pipes
Rad natural terrain and a few rails too. Build a jump and have some fun, that's the spirit.
Not enough skiers to make many bumps, but a few form in limited areas for brief periods.
The whole mountain is one big powder zone, day after day. Allan's Basin is recommended. Cornice Bowl pictured.
Happy Valley is sheltered from the wind, and usually great snow. No trees.
Nippers play in the snow outside Palmer Lodge, the lunch hut.
Usually sheltered from the wind that shuts Mt Hutt. Gets lots of snow from the North-West direction, which blows over from the back of the ridgeline, like a vast natural snowmaking gun.
Variable in the amount of snow and when it falls. But usually 75cms is plenty to ski on, since the base terrain is grass, rather than rocks.
Sometimes late season has a deeper snow pack. BR is famous for its spring skiing. In recent years Broken River was the last NZ ski area to close in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. In 2007 BR was only closed 3 days in the whole season due to adverse weather (Compare to "Mt Shutt" down the road!) In 2003 and 2004 Broken River was open for more days than any other ski area in NZ or Australia.
See snow depth graph (source= snow.co.nz). Month name is at middle of month.
Sits in a hanging valley above the Castle Hill Basin, Craigieburn Range. Views look out over the Castle Hill Basin to the Torlesse Range beyond.
The ski area has been developed by members of the North Canterbury Ski Club (later changing its name to Broken River Ski Club) working on summer work parties since the mid 1950's.
Everything you see was built by, and is still maintained by, volunteers: mountain road, carpark, lodges and lifts. Stand back in awe.