The thrill of that first successful run is indescribably exhilarating. You did it! You learned to ski or snowboard! You stood up. You made that first turn. You are triumphant! And your smile is ten feet wide and bullet proof! With five fantastic ski areas in close proximity, the Lake Wanaka region is the ideal place to learn to ski or snowboard.
Whether you are four or forty, as a beginner you’re going to have a great time, and you'll wish you’d started earlier! So, what do you need to know? What are the basics? What will you need? Here in Lake Wanaka we are happy to help and are excited to get you on our mountains with smiles on your faces.
You will need:
A Lift Pass
First and foremost, you need access on the mountain though to begin with you may only need access to the beginner slopes. You can buy a OnePassNZ which gives you access to all three Wanaka ski areas - these can be brought on the mountain or at the Lake Wanaka i-SITE Visitor Centre.
Yes, gear is pretty important! Skis, boots, poles, or snowboard and boots can be rented from the mountains rental facilities or in Wanaka town itself. High quality, new gear is available from many hire shops. Spend some time getting the right boots fitted. Note that boots can be more comfortable during the day if you start with them a bit looser and tighten up as the day goes on. See our gear pages for where to get gear and details on what you’ll need.
Warm winter layers, wind and waterproof shell, gloves, hat and glasses or goggles, suntan lotion. Think about adding or taking off articles depending upon outside temperature and your level of exertion. The innermost layer should be light thermal underwear – merino is a great way to stay comfortable, warm and odour-free - either light or medium weight. Always have a very warm thermal jacket on hand as well as a rain and wind proof parka, either in a daypack or back at the car park. Remember that kids get a lot colder up the mountain than adults. Avoid double pairs of socks, which tend to chafe and bulk, though sometimes one pair of thick socks and one very thin pair works well. The mountain resorts do hire clothing if you need it.
Okay, maybe you can muck around in the snow for a day first, but you won't get very far. Take the plunge and check in for some group or individual lessons to get you started. Lessons are for everyone.
You may be an absolute beginner, an intermediate skier who can't quite handle those black runs, or an experienced rider who needs to gain confidence in off-piste powder conditions. Maybe you’re a skier who wants to give snowboarding a go? Well lesson #1 is "lessons DO make a difference."
Look for the multi-day passes and the different learner packages that Cardrona, Treble Cone and Snow Farm offer.
Many people self-drive their rental car up the mountain (30-40mins drive from Wanaka), and for this you will need to ensure your rental comes with snow chains, but there are also excellent twice daily shuttle services that will pick up from and drop off to your accommodation.
See our Transport pages.
See our suggestions on the accommodation pages of this website. Backpacker hostels and holiday park cabins and campgrounds offer great value for students. Families may prefer to opt for Hotels, motels or Apartments and those looking for something more individual should turn to our luxury lodges accommodation pages.
As first timers to skiing or snowboarding the first timer packages at the ski areas are the easiest and most convenient way to get started They’re great value too and set you up with everything you need to ensure you get the best experience possible - equipment, lesson and learner lift pass which accesses the learner’s slopes of the mountains.
Most of all have fun out there!
Ski Lake Wanaka