3 T-bar lifts go straight up a valley. Cruisy terrain on the lower lift, and steeper higher up. Kids are well catered for. Excellent advanced terrain in McNulty's Basin, and Bluff Face, and the legendary Big Mama. One ski club lodge halfway down the access road.
Big Mama is one of New Zealand's legendary lift accessed faces, but suffers from unrelieable snow. If struck on a powder day, you'll remember this run very fondly.
- 1 Location
- 2 Pros
- 3 Cons
- 4 Contacts
- 5 Planning
- 6 Resort Facilities
- 7 Ride Guide
- 8 Other
- 9 Resources
Highway 73, near Porter's Pass, west of Christchurch, NZ.
- Closest ski area to Christchurch, 89km.
- Cheap for families.
- Snowmaking to ensure cover in lower areas and beginner runs.
- Windy, can be shut like Mt Hutt when the wind blows.
- Fickle natural snow cover, often the best expert runs can be thin.
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Take Highway 73 from Christchurch, over Porter's Pass, and turn off left at the sign about 7km later. Gravel road from there to the ski area, 8km further. A few zig-zags near the top, but pretty user-friendly by NZ ski area standards. Carry chains at all times.
One ski club lodge a few minutes drive down the ski area access road. Inexpensive and convenient.
Not much. Castle Hill Village (mainly private houses, and one B+B), or Springfield, or Darfield (rural towns).
Adult $60, tertiary student $50, school age $35, under 5's free. Good value season passes if purchased prior to April 30: adult $299. Mid-week-only season passes are $199, a factor contributing to absenteeism amongst the Christchurch workforce.
Full ski hire on-mountain, and complete beginners' packages.
Drive to the top of the road: bingo, you're at the car park. No parking charges of course, it's NZ.
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Cafe for lunch food on the mountain.
Bars & Entertainment
Entertainment is sliding downhill real fast on your chosen equipment. Bars are what you try to avoid while going downhill.
Small shop sells sunscreen and bits and pieces you may have lost or had stolen by Keas (alpine parrots).
Children are well catered for at Porter Heights.
Most of the lower area of the mountain is beginner or intermediate, user-friendly terrain, snowmaking and groomed.
Most of the lower mountain well groomed. At least one groomed trail goes from top down to bottom.
Head skier's left on a cat track to McNulty's Basin or Bluff Face, great fun after fresh snowfalls. Head right from the top onto Big Mama for 2000 vertical feet of non-stop steep treeless powder.
Out of Bounds
Head skier's left on Adrian's Highway (the McNulty's Basin track), and then use AT gear and skins to access further along the ridge to Crystal Valley and other basins. NB: make sure you have checked avalanche risk with ski patrol before going out. Never travel b/c alone and always have avalanche safety gear for you and your ski buddies.
No nordic skiing here, mate. Bit steep for that.
Parks & Pipes
Gets windy. Can be shut sometimes.
Originally a Canterbury club field which "grew up" and became commercial.