Ski New Zealand
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Frequently asked questions

Driving in New Zealand

You can drive in New Zealand if you have a current and valid overseas licence or driver permit written in English, or accompanied by an accurate translation.

UK residents - with the UK phasing out the 2 Part Paper licence and moving to a plastic card licence please note the following:

  • If you only need the plastic card to drive in the UK, then that's all you need in NZ too i.e. you don’t need to bring your paper licence.
  • If your license stipulates that you need both, then you will indeed need to bring both.
  • If you only have paper license (i.e. no card), then the rental car companies in NZ will accept your paper licence

The usual minimum age to rent or drive a rental vehicle in New Zealand is 25 however we have a special arrangements with rental car companies which may allow drivers from 21 years old. They must hold a current valid full licence (not a provisional or learners licence). Check with your consultant if you have any questions on your ability to drive in New Zealand.

Driving in winter in New Zealand is for the most part no different to any other time. Indeed, winter can be a great time to travel with less traffic and clear days. Extra care does need to be taken in the some places where roads can be affected by snow and ice at times.

Take a little more care where there is potential for ice and avoid night time or early morning driving if possible. Icy road conditions are generally signposted, with regularly ice-affected corners permanently signposted and temporary conditions marked.

Some southern regions' roads can be affected by snow. But road conditions will be clearly signposted and, when necessary, roads will be closed. Main highways usually re-open within a few hours of a heavy snowfall after road crews clear them.

In winter you will need to carry snow chains to travel on some roads when they are likely to be affected by snow. These include some popular and recommended routes like the Crown Range road, between Queenstown and Wanaka, and the road to Milford Sound. Snow chains are available to hire when you collect your rental car.

Driving in winter can be very enjoyable. Quiet roads and clear days make for some of the best scenery. Simply adjust your driving to suit the conditions.

All the ski field access roads are alpine roads so you must carry snow chains and know how to fit them. Cardrona Ski Resort, Treble Cone Ski field and Roundhill ski field are gravel roads. Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski fields are sealed roads. All can be safely driven in your rental car as long as you have the appropriate snow cover.

Applying for a vehicle disability permit in New Zealand is simple. All you need to do is complete a short form and along with a copy of your current permit send the information to the CCS Disability action office here in New Zealand. There is a small fee.

Even better - when you book your tour with us we can get the forms and help you arrange this. Allow at least 4 weeks though to make sure its in place before you arrive into New Zealand.

Rental Cars

Most of the rental car fleets operate petrol (gasoline) vehicles for small cars and saloons. The larger SUV/4WD's, people movers and vans usually run on diesel. The fuel type is clearly indicated on the vehicle or check with the gas station staff or call us of you need help.

Most of the vehicles in New Zealand rental car fleets have automatic gearboxes. Manual cars are available with some fleets but these tend to be the smaller cars only. If you have a specific request for a type of car then contact the team to get some advice.

Yes all the rental cars we arrange for you include full roadside assistance (breakdown cover). So if the car develops a problem help is just a phone call away. If your problem cannot be resolved at the roadside then contact us or the rental car company and a solution for a replacement vehicle will be organised as soon as practically possible.

Our holidays include the rental costs for your car with varying levels of insurance available depending on what your prefer. GST (taxes) are included. They all come with snow chains and ski or snowboard racks  We can advise you on the different levels of insurance and coverage you might need.

Ski and Snowboarding New Zealand

There are 5 major ski fields in the South Island which accommodate skiers and snowboarders and there are also a number of small family owned and club ski fields.

The 5 main ski fields are:

  • Cardrona Ski Resort and Treble Cone, located near Wanaka;
  • The Remarkables and Coronet Peak, located near Queenstown;
  • And Mt Hutt which is located near Methven (1 hour from Christchurch).

Many of the club fields are located near Arthurs pass while Roundhill, located near Lake Tekapo, and Ohau (near Twizel) are popular small ski fields.

If you are staying longer than a few days and would like some variety, we suggest you base yourself in Queenstown or Wanaka where you can enjoy 4 ski fields plus the fantastic winter holiday activities the region has to offer.

For more information on the ski fields visit our Skiing in NZ page.

This varies for each mountain, but is generally between mid June to late September or early October.  Below are the scheduled opening and closing dates for the 2017 ski season:

  • Cardrona Ski Resort, Wanaka 10 June to 15 October 2017
  • Treble Cone, Wanaka – 22 June to 1 October 2017
  • The Remarkables, Queenstown – 18 June to 25 September 2017
  • Coronet Peak, Queenstown – 11 June to 2 October 2017
  • Mt Hutt, Methven – 10 June to 9 October 2017
  • Roundhill, Lake Tekapo – 1 July to 18 September 2017

All ski field access roads are alpine roads so you must carry snow chains and know how to fit them.

Cardrona Ski Resort, Treble Cone Ski field and Roundhill ski field have gravel access roads. Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski fields are sealed roads. All can be safely driven in your rental car as long as you have the appropriate insurance cover and follow instructions for when to fit chains, etc.

Read or listen to snow reports for current road conditions.

All the ski fields have regular shuttle transfers that run between town and the mountain. There is also the option to get picked up from your accommodation and dropped off at your accommodation at the end of the day.

If you are staying in Queenstown and want to ski Cardrona or Treble Cone there are also a number of daily shuttle transfer providers. We can book your shuttle transfers for your.

In Wanaka, Queenstown and Methven there are many shops that rent the latest ski and snowboard equipment. These shops offer a relaxed atmosphere for trying on gear to ensure you get the correct fit.

You can also hire equipment direct from the ski fields, which we can organise for you in advance.

We recommend you wear jacket and pants specific for snowboarding or skiing. These can be hired from rental stores in town or from the ski fields, which we can arrange.

Temperatures can vary with mountain weather conditions and you will be exercising in your gear. So it is a good idea to layer your clothing to allow yourself some flexibility. Wear warm layers that you can remove or add on depending on the weather, preferably thermal polypropylene or merino, under your ski jacket and pants.

Helmets are now standard snow sports wear. If you are new to snowboarding or skiing, we highly recommend you hire a helmet which will offer protection from accidents and keep your head toasty warm. Alternatively, make sure you bring a warm beanie (hat).

Socks and gloves are two of the most important items of clothing when skiing or boarding -- crucial to your enjoyment of your day on the mountain. But they can’t be hired. Bring ski or snowboard specific long socks and waterproof gloves or mittens or purchase some when you arrive. Normal socks and gloves will not be adequate protection in cold snowy conditions.

Lastly, eye protection, in the form of sunglasses or goggles, and sunscreen for your face are very important. The sun reflecting off the snow is much stronger than normal and can damage your eyes if you are not wearing appropriate eye wear.

Cardrona Ski Resort is the only Southern Lakes ski field with on-mountain accommodation.

Get in early if you would like to stay at Cardrona overnight. During school holidays when the ski season is at its busiest on-mountain accommodation sells out well in advance of the ski season.

The major ski fields offer kids ski clubs, which are a great option for children. These include lessons, lunch and heaps of fun activities to keep them engaged while learning to ski or snowboard.

For the younger ones, who aren’t ready for the slopes, there are also licensed early childcare centres at Cardrona, The Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt.

Seasons vary from year to year so it’s impossible to predict the best weather and snow conditions. As you are a rule you are more likely to get good conditions in the middle of the season rather than either end.

On the odd occasion ski fields may delay their opening day. So don't book your ski holiday for opening day in case it is postponed.

New Zealand and Australian school holidays are the busiest times of year at the ski fields . We suggest avoiding these dates, if possible. The best plan is to book early to ensure you get your first choice in accommodation at the best price available, if you have children and must visit during school holidays .

Winter ski holiday packages featured on this site are just a sample of the packages available. Your winter holiday itinerary possibilities are almost endless

We can customise promoted packages, or create a custom winter holiday, to suit your needs with your choice of accommodation, activities, ski lift passes, rental equipment, lessons, etc.

Just contact us with your specific requirements.

Beginner skiers and snowboarders are well catered for at New Zealand ski fields and there are a range of packages that will take you from a beginner to skier in no time. We will design a winter holiday that includes lessons on a ski field best suited for beginners and shuttle transfers if you prefer not to drive. We will also organise equipment and clothing rental if required and provide you with detailed information on collecting your passes and getting to and from the ski fields.

All the commercial ski fields have:

  • Cafes where you can buy food and beverages.
  • Shops to buy ski accessories -- goggles, hats, etc. that somehow didn't make the trip up the hill
  • A Ski & Board School offering lessons
  • Ski & board equipment rental.
  • And the larger ski fields will also have childcare facilities.

Our Skiing in NZ page offers more information on each of the ski fields.

Making a reservation

Found a suggested New Zealand holiday package you like? You can simply click the "Get Quote/ Book Now" tab on the tour menu to make a reservation.

Follow the instructions and complete the details requested. The booking process requires a deposit to be made through our secure credit card system (Visa and MasterCard only).

We accept Visa and MasterCard payments and process them via our secure credit card processing system.

This system is administered entirely by our bank (Bank of New Zealand) and DPS (Direct Payment Solutions).

When completing the booking form the final stage is the payment process. From there just follow the instructions.

When your payment is made the screen will display a reference number and a receipt will be emailed to you. (And we are notified automatically of all payments.)

At the time of booking we ask for a deposit payment of 20% of the quoted tour cost or NZ$250 per person, whichever is higher.

Occasionally, items such as domestic airfares may also need paying for at the time of the deposit. These are usually paid for immediately after you book; so we collect payment along with your deposit.

The deposit amount will be calculated automatically and displayed on the payment page.

The balance for your tour is due 45 days prior to the start date or if you have made a reservation inside 45 days it is due upon you receiving a confirmation document for your tour. There may be some special arrangements we have made that need paying for earlier and we will advise you of this at the time.

Note: the balance due date is displayed on the costs page of your itinerary.

Yes. The payment system we use offers the highest levels of safety and security available.

The system we use is administered entirely by DPS (Direct Payment Solutions) -- a world leader in online payment technology -- and our bank, the Bank of New Zealand. When you click through to the payment system the transaction is completed within a secure (https) page and the information entered is only seen by DPS and our bank.

Yes. You can choose to pay for your tour in another currency.

Choose your preferred currency on the payments page and our system will convert your balance into your currency using BNZ (Bank of New Zealand) exchange rates.

Paying in Your Local Currency

For example, selecting to pay us in $US will mean you will be charged that exact $US amount, if your card was issued by a US bank.

Paying in NZ Dollars

If you choose to pay in $NZ using a non-New Zealand credit card, then your credit card company or bank may charge you a currency conversion fee. This can sometimes be around 3% of the transactions. So check with your bank or credit card company first to make sure which is the best option for you.

Note: the cost in currencies other than $NZ may fluctuate with exchange rate changes. We use the NZ$ price as the base cost.

If you don't have a credit card or prefer not to use one then contact us and we can supply all the information you need to make a direct credit to our bank account. Payment made this way will need to made in New Zealand dollars to arrive into our account in New Zealand dollars and any bank fees incurred may need to be also covered by you. Depending on your location and bank this can also take up to 10 days to process.

You can split payments decide how much you wish to pay on the balance of the tour or if you are travelling in a party then making the appropriate payment for your share is easy.

When you get to the Payments page, in the payment process, simply edit the amount in the white box before clicking through to the Payment Processing page.

Yes. You can use as many different credit cards as you wish.

The system processes each card individually and allocates to your account. So splitting costs between fellow travellers is easy. all you need to do when you pay the deposit is advise us you wish to split this across cards or fellow travellers and we will switch to multiple payments. For the balance payment you simply specify the amount you wish to pay.

No. We do not charge an additional fee for paying with your credit card.

Paying in New Zealand dollars
Our tours are priced in New Zealand dollars. If you choose to pay with NZ currency your credit card supplier may charge you a currency conversion fee, much like if you went to a bank and purchased foreign currency.

Paying with other currencies
We do give you the option to pay in alternative currency. For example: paying in US dollars using a credit issued in the US should mean there is no currency conversion fee applied by your credit card company.

Currency conversion rates
The currency conversion rates we use are supplied by our bank here in New Zealand.

Completing our booking form will supply us with the information we need to arrange your time in New Zealand

The booking form asks you for the information we need such as names, address, phone number etc. We also ask for your flight details if you have those arranged already (if not you can still book and supply those later).

Requesting Special Requirements

There is a section on the form which allows you to add special requests such as dietary requirements or preferred bedding configurations or anything else you want to let us know.

Deposit Payment

A deposit payment -- 20% of the total itinerary cost or $250 per person, whichever is higher -- is required via our secure credit card system. This is administered by DPS (Direct Payment Solutions) and our bank (Bank of New Zealand) and is extremely safe and secure. Your credit card details are not stored by us.

Cancellations and Changes

Changing the date of your booked tour is possible. However, bear in mind that changing the date may mean some of your previous arrangements are not possible, or costs may vary to those first quoted.

Your personal travel specialist will of course give you the best advice at the time to help you with your decision.

Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance. There are many factors that could cause you to amend or cancel your trip, so ensuring you have cover for extra costs or cancellation fees is important. This means that any delays or unforeseen costs you may incur should be covered. We recommend purchasing your travel insurance locally to make dealing with any claims on your return easier.

No, the cost of the tour does not include any kind of insurance unless we have quoted this separately to you. Your consultant will advise this. We strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance as soon as your trip is booked and to make sure that you are covered for cancellation fees, interruption costs and any other kind of unforeseen circumstance.

Visa requirements

The New Zealand government has introduced an Electronic Tourist Authority (ETA) and International Visitor Conservation & Tourist Levy (IVL). This is designed to strengthen border security and help smaller communities build the infrastructure to cope with the large influx of international visitors each year.

From 01 October 2019 visitors to New Zealand need to have purchased an ETA and IVL visa. Applications can be made online or via a mobile app once you have booked travel to New Zealand. The visa is valid for up to 2 years and can be used for multiple entries into New Zealand.

It is best to carry a hard copy of your confirmation when you travel through the border.

How do I obtain the visa?

The application for the visa can be made online or via a mobile app. The process should take about 10 minutes and must be undertaken prior to travel. It is advised you apply as soon as possible, be aware the process can take up to 72 hours. Make sure you have yours before you set of on your holiday. Payment for the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy can be made at the same time.

How much does it cost?

If the application is made form the mobile app the ETA will cost $9, online applications will be $12. The IVL cost is $35 and contributes directly to the tourism infrastructure and helps to protect the natural landscapes that so many come to enjoy.

Are there any exceptions?

All passengers travelling on a New Zealand passport, Australian passport or hold a valid resident visa will be exempt from purchasing the ETA visa and paying the IVL.

Take a look at the government website if you would like to learn more.

School Holidays

The dates below will vary by a few days from school to school, however these are:

Winter School Holidays 2019
29 June - 14 July (WA, QLD, VIC)
29 June - 22 July (NT)
6 July - 22 July (ACT, SA, TAS, NSW)
7 July - 22 July (New Zealand)

Spring School Holidays 2019
20 September - 8 October (QLD)
22 September - 7 October (WA, VIC)
28 September - 13 October (SA, ACT, TAS, NSW, NT)
28 September - 14 October (New Zealand)

Winter School Holidays 2020
27 June - 13 July (WA, QLD, VIC)
29 June - 17 July (NT)
6 July - 17 July (ACT, SA, TAS, NSW)
4 July -19 July (New Zealand)

Spring School Holidays 2020
19 September - 5 October (QLD)
26 September - 11 October (WA, VIC)
28 September - 9 October (SA, ACT, TAS, NSW, NT)
26 September - 11 October (New Zealand)

Winter School Holidays 2021
26 June - 13 July (WA, QLD, VIC)
30 June - 22 July (NT)
28 June - 9 July (ACT, SA, TAS, NSW)
10 July - 25 July (New Zealand)

Spring School Holidays 2021
18 September - 5 October (QLD)
25 September - 10 October (WA, VIC)
20 September - 1 October (SA, ACT, TAS, NSW, NT)
01 September - 18 October (New Zealand)

Airport information

Christchurch International Airport is the main airport serving Christchurch City and the arrival point for long haul international flights into the South Island. It is located 12 kilometres from Christchurch's central business district or about a 20 minute drive or a NZ$30 taxi ride. it also supports a comprehensive domestic network between the main centres and regional towns.

More information on Christchurch Airport.

Queenstown Airport is New Zealand's fastest growing airport. It has been comprehensively refurbished recently to accommodate evening arrivals and increased international arrivals from Australia. The airport is located in Frankton, Queenstown, a 15-minute drive from Queenstown's town centre or is around a NZ$25 taxi ride or a smaller fee for a shuttle. It also serves as a busy domestic airport connecting to the major centres.

More information on Queenstown Airport.