Central Southern Alps
Rising to 2190 metres, Mount Hutt rises above the Canterbury Plains and is the closest ski resort to Christchurch. It's one of the largest and highest ski areas in the South Island and a big mountain experience for skiers and snowboarders. It’s perfect for every age and ability, and fantastic for families,and offers a network of progressive terrain parks and dedicated learning facilities. A quiet town in the summer, the cafes, bars, and restaurants lie relatively dormant until the first snow falls, at which time the town suddenly comes alive.
Mt Hutt isn't the only ski field in the region however, others incude Porters Ski Area Ltd, Craigieburn, Broken River, Mt Cheesman, Mt Olympus and more. Whatever your ability or style, you'll find an area that is perfect for you and all set among some of the world's most stunning landscapes.
Perhaps one of New Zealand’s most scenic areas, the turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo are flanked by the high Southern Alps and home to ski fields in the winter, and aquatic activities in the summer.
Lake Tekapo is about three hours drive south-west of Christchurch in the Mackenzie Basin. The township faces north across the remarkable turquoise coloured lake to the mountainous drama of the Southern Alps. Lake Tekapo gets its intense milky-turquoise colour from the fine rock-flour (ground by glaciers) which is suspended in the water.
Lake Tekapo is famed for the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd, which stands on the shore of the lake, where the altar window frames a perfect view of Mount Cook and Southern Alps beyond the lake.
Picturesque by day and dazzling by night, Lake Tekapo is part of the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, making it the perfect spot for stargazing.
Mt Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand, helped Sir Edmund Hillary to develop his climbing skills in preparation for his conquest of Everest.
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is home of the highest mountains and the longest glaciers. It is alpine in the purest sense - with sky-scraping peaks, glaciers and permanent snow fields, all set under a star-studded sky.
According to Ngai Tahu legend, Aoraki and his three brothers were the sons of Rakinui, the Sky Father. While on a sea voyage, their canoe overturned on a reef. When the brothers climbed on top of their canoe, the freezing south wind turned them to stone. The canoe became the South Island (Te Waka o Aoraki); Aoraki and his brothers became the peaks of the Southern Alps.
Mountaineers regard the area to be the best climbing region in Australasia, while less skilled adventurers find plenty of satisfaction with the mountain walks that lead to alpine tarns, herb fields and spectacular glacier views. Encounters with cheeky kea (mountain parrots) are part of the fun.
Twizel is a handy base to explore Mount Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin. From mountain climbing to heli-biking, it’s all here.
The town of Twizel was purpose-built in the 1960s to provide a home for workers involved with the Upper Waitaki Power Scheme. Today it is a well-positioned base for mountain-climbing, kayaking, mountain-biking, skiing, horse-trekking and hiking. The peaks and trails of Mount Cook National Park are just up the road. You can fish for salmon and trout in the local rivers, canals and lakes, but if you don’t have any luck, call into the salmon farm and buy a fish - fresh or smoked. In summer Twizel’s population more than trebles, as holiday houses and camp grounds fill to capacity.
The Infinity Experience
Mt Cook (Aoraki)Pixabay