Where do I fly to?
Christchurch International Airport. Then it’s an easy drive west. If you need to get groceries, there’s a New World supermarket 5 minutes toward town on Memorial avenue. There is also a new Countdown supermarket 2 minutes from the airport.
How far to the skiing?
AKG tours launch from Craigieburn Range and Arthur's Pass ski areas: Porters, Mt Olympus, Mt Cheeseman, Broken River, Craigieburn Valley and Temple Basin (in Arthurs Pass). The closest, Porters is 100km from Christchurch airport. The furthest, Temple Basin, is 150km from Christchurch.
How do I get there?
Rental cars from Christchurch airport. 4WD highly recommended as the NZ ski area roads are rough.
Atomic Shuttles and West Coast shuttles link through State highway 73 below the Craigieburn range.
Black Diamond Safaris offer 4WD transport from Methven to the Club ski areas. AKG will use these great people quite often.
More information is available on the Black Diamond Safaris Website.
Where can we stay?
- Springfield village is approximately 30km from the ski areas on SH73 and offers motels and hostel-style accommodation.
More information is available on the Springfield Village Website.
- Springfield Motel & Lodge. More information is available on the Springfield Motel Website.
- Castle Village has houses for rent. More information is available on the Castle Village Website.
- Flock Hill Station 15km northwest of Castle Hill offers motel style accommodation. More information is available on the Flock Hill Station Website.
- Grasmere Lodge 20 km northwest of Castle Hill. Gorgeous! More information is available on the Grasmere Lodge Website.
- Arthur's Pass National Park (village): More information is available on the Arthur's Pass Website.
- Camping. More information is available on the DOC Website.
Ski Area accommodation packages:
- Porters Alpine Lodge. More information is available on the Porters Website.
- Cheeseman ski field. More information is available on the Cheeseman Website.
- Broken River. More information is available on the Broken River Website.
- Mt Olympus. More information is available on the Mt Olympus Website.
- Craigieburn Valley. More information is available on the Craigieburn Website.
What gear do I need?
AKG will send a comprehensive gear list. Backcountry ski bindings can either be telemark or an alpine binding with a releasable heel. Each tourer will carry a pack containing avalanche rescue equipment: Avalanche beacon (worn on the body), snow shovel and avalanche probe. Guides and instructors will provide training in the use of these.
You will need a pack of around 30-40 litres for a day tour.
Can I snowboard in the backcountry?
Yes! A split snowboard with skins - or snow shoes with snowboard carried on the pack are an option. If you are snowboarding, please contact AKG directly for further information as you may need additional equipment for certain conditions. All snowboarders should carry ski poles in the backcountry.
What's with the Rope Tows?
The rope tow is a lift system that is used at a number of ski areas in the Craigieburn Range as well as Temple Basin (Arthurs Pass). Check out how to ride the Rope Tows in this short video, click CC for English subtitles:
Video courtesy of B.A.M - Bavarian Alpine Manifest
Where can I hire backcountry gear?
Gnomes Ski Shop in Darfield (60km from Christchurch airport on the Main West Coast road) are our closest (and favorite) source of rental equipment. They will rent out backcountry ski boots, skis with releasable heel bindings, skins and safety equipment (transceiver/shovel/probe). AKG recommends bringing ski-specific ski crampons if possible. If you are renting gear, we do recommend trying it out first - at the very least ensuring that you know how to work the bindings and that they fit your boots.
Can I use my own ski boots?
If your boots are comfortable, then they should work for day touring. Touring boots are softer with a dedicated “walk” mode for climbing and are available for rent at Gnomes (above).
What is the difference between backcountry skiing and ski touring?
There is no difference. We use the terms interchangeably!
Ski mountaineering however, refers to carrying skis on the back, and using ice axes and crampons to access ski terrain.
Which is better; Tiger or Monkey Style Kung Fu?
It depends on the terrain.
How well do I need to ski?
You need to be a capable off-piste skier who can safely descend black diamond runs or off-piste blue runs and can side-slip or traverse through tough snow conditions. Having a solid kick-turn adds to the repertoire of how to deal with tricky snow. You should practice skiing in bounds with a pack before coming on a ski tour. Check with AKG for further questions.
How fit do I need to be?
You will be earning your turns so you need to be able to climb 300+ metres (1000+ feet). The more you can climb, the more you can ski! A good base level of fitness from running, hill walking, cycling and other aerobic activity will set you up for best success. AKG can help with advice and suggest a training program to make the most of your experience.
What are AKG’s ratios?
1:5 maximum for private ski touring and avalanche classes
1:2 for ski mountaineering
The NZ ski season usually begins in late June or early July and runs through October. Ski mountaineering is possible through November. August and September are the most popular months for skiing.