Featured Activities

With four ski areas in our back pocket, Wānaka is spoilt for choice when winter rolls in. 

From June to October, Cardrona, Treble Cone Snow Farm and Soho Basin  open their slopes for skiing and snow boarding. Each month bringing its own set of winter wins. So when is the best time to hit the slopes this season? Read on for your month-by-month winter game plan, and start planning your snow days, stat. 


June | Early season

If you’re sitting at your desk searching for snow reports and have all the gear out in May, then early season is for you. Rumour has it, after a summer of El Niño comes a winter of white – so touch wood and do your snow dances that this June is one for the books. Lucky for us, both Cardrona, or ‘Cardies’ to the locals, and Treble Cone (TC) have plenty invested into state-of-the-art snowmaking, so you can pretty much guarantee there’s always something to slide on at one or the other, even if Mother Nature doesn’t deliver. 

Opening Day Celebrations are always FUN, with the die-hard winter warriors lining up for hours in the dark to get the first chairlift of the ski season. Costumes are dusted off from closing day the year before, grins are everywhere, and there’s not a single care in the world on the whole slope. If you’re around in June, don’t miss it!

Events in June:

Matariki: The Wānaka Matariki celebrations are a great whānau / family-friendly event with kapa haka performances, free activities for tamariki / children, story-telling, a delicious hangi, bubble show, firepits, fire dances and light displays.

NZ Mountain Film & Book Festival:  A celebration of mountain adventure sports and lifestyle, this has been a firm favourite on the Wānaka calendar for over two decades. 

Average Temperatures:

  • Wānaka Township: 3°C to 12°C
  • Mountains: -3°C to -10°C

Key dates: 

  • Opening Days: Cardrona – Saturday 15 June, Snow Farm – Friday 28 June, Treble Cone – Saturday 29 June.
  • NZ Mountain Book & Film Festival: Friday 21 – Monday 25 June
  • Matariki: Friday 28 June


Crowd gathers at Cardrona Opening Day

July | School holidays

There’s nothing better than a family ski holiday, whether it’s seeing the kids take their first turns, doing some family hot laps or just spending some quality time together on the mountain.

Cardrona is well set up for families. The famous Cardrona Chondola is a chairlift and gondola all wrapped into one, meaning the little ones can stay snug and warm the whole way up the hill.  From there, you’ve got a wide range of slopes to explore, the Vista Cafe to refuel with hot choccy, and a gram-worthy “secret” swing overlooking the Soho Basin.

Over at Treble Cone  you will find a designated beginner’s slope located conveniently close to the cafe and a dedicated warm room for the smalls, the rest of the mountain is yours for the riding. Much of the terrain at Treble Cone is intermediate to advanced, making it the perfect place for little rippers to level up. 

If you’re looking to play in the snow, go tubing, cross-country skiing or something a bit different – check out Snow Farm. With 50km of both classic and ski skating, snowshoeing and a snow fun zone, NZ’s only Nordic ski area is the place to go for an unforgettable snow experience. Not to mention the restaurant, cafe, rental and repair workshop, snow shop and alpine lodge. Ever fancied cross-country skiing into your own alpine hut? Check. Ring in some mates, or bring the kids and stay overnight to wake up to freshies. Most huts have their own fire, so you can stay toasty all winter long.

Ski New Zealand does a 5 day Wānaka and Cardrona family ski package holiday and car hire, which includes lift passes, lessons and activities off the mountain. 

Average temperatures:

  • Wānaka Township: 2°C to 10°C
  • Mountains: -3°C to minus -5°C



Locals tip: Pop the kids into a ski programme – they’ll meet new friends and develop their  ski/snowboard skills in a fun and safe environment. Plus, child-free runs.


Dad with kid on shouders looking over southern alps

August | Mid-winter

August is traditionally the month with deep snow bases and regular snowfalls, dishing up excellent powder conditions. 

Being the largest ski area in the South Island, Treble Cone is famous for its long runs, its legendary off-piste terrain and its unrivalled views over Lake Wānaka and the Southern Alps. According to NZ Ski Packages, Treble Cone receives the largest amount of snowfall over winter. Read, more powder days!

August is also the month when you can watch the Winter Games NZ action live from the slopes, the chairlift or the cafe. The Winter Games NZ is the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest snow sports event, with the Park & Pipe Continental and World Cups held at Cardrona.

Average temperatures:

  • Wānaka Township: 2°C to 10°C
  • Mountains: -5°C to 0°C


  • Winter Games NZ 25 August – 8 September
  • Snowgain (Rogain at Snow Farm)

Locals tip:  If you’re looking to tick off a bucket list, book a heli-ski trip. The Wānaka region is renowned for having the largest heli-ski terrain in the Southern Hemisphere. Talk to Harris Mountain, or Southern Lakes Heli and they’ll sort you out.


Skier on groomed run overlooking Lake Wanaka

September & October | Spring skiing

Oh, spring skiing. The days are longer, the temps are warmer, the snow is softer, and the bails are more forgiving. Spring is one of the best seasons to learn, fall, and finally master your snow craft, so get amongst it. 

At this point, everyone is soaking up that winter high and squeezing every last drop out of the ski season. For those sticking around longer than a day pass but shorter than a season, you can pick up Spring Passes for both Cardrona and Treble Cone to get the most from the end of season.

September also brings snow events like the Jossi Wells Invitational at Cardrona and Treble Cone – a huge ski and snowboarding event in some epic terrain and parks. We heard the afterparty is the do of the season, if you’re lucky enough to score an invite. Over at Snow Farm, you’ll find the annual Merino Muster – a cross-country ski race tour.

Average Temperatures:

  • Wānaka Township: 2°C to 10°C
  • Mountains: 0°C to 4°C


  • Jossi Wells Invitational: mid-September (dates TBA)
  • Merino Muster, Snow Farm (dates TBA)

Locals tip: Sunscreen. Lots of sunscreen, and multiple times a day. The sun’s out, and the reflection on the snow means folks can easily burn. Trust us on this one.

So there we have it, your local guide to the best time to ski and snowboard in Wānaka, wrapped up with the who’s who, what’s what, what’s on and what to expect right through the snow season. Now if you’ll excuse us,  we’re off to wax the planks. Catch you on the maunga (mountain). 


Two girls on the mountain ready to snowboard

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