We told you about the delights of the club fields last issue, once you mastered the nutcracker rope tows. But what if you could get the benefits – great value, uncrowded slopes, old school camaraderie – without that drawback? At Mt Cheeseman you can, you get to ride t-bars and they even have a snow groomer, so the main slopes are well prepared making it easy for all standards, not just all terrainers, to enjoy them. Yet the prices remains super affordable, especially staying at the ski in/ski out lodge.
Yes, you don’t even need a walk through the forest to the lifts here, it’s out the door on the hill, though if you are just day tripping from Methven or Christchurch the car park is slopeside as well and the road is easier than at some commercial ski areas.
A Christchurch local I met in the tram at Asahidake explained the difference between the club areas due to their origins – Mt Olympus was set up by farmers, Temple Basin by students, Craigieburn by mountaineers, Broken River by tradies and Cheeseman by doctors and lawyers. »
That legacy explained why Cheeseman was always a bit different from the other club fields, though the member mix is all walks of life these days, and judging by their crazy events – from Pirate Day to The Therma Tech Undie 500 race – they are all about having a great time, so it’s easy to meet new friends.
They also have a penchant for eccentricities like a curling rink, and on the lodge front there’s a choice of the relatively salubrious Snowline Lodge on the field or the backpacker style self-catering Forest Lodge just down the road. Neither will break the bank: a full ski week – 6 nights, 7 day pass, all meals & lessons – is just (all NZD) $1199 adults, kids under 10 $499, or $30 a night in the back packer. Day passes are $79 adult, under 10s free.
Special family discounts apply with 1 adult and at least 2 students/kids together. So the total price for 1 adult with 2 kids would be less than $2k aussie with nothing extra to spend except drinks and snacks. You can add airport transfers to make a complete trip, it’s only 112km from Christchurch, less from the airport. The kids get included lessons and the freestyle program will keep keen teens busy. Those rates are better than mainstream packages to the big commercial Kiwi areas where you have to do the drive up/down every day.
On the terrain front it’s not as gnarly as Craigieburn, but there are plenty of black runs on the map and short hikes up to the Mt Cockbayne summit or into the Mt Cheeseman basin over the backside open up plenty of options. You can day trip over to Broken River, the next field along the range, if you have the skills and are nostalgic for nutcrackers.
Mt Cheeseman the Ticket
getting there Christchurch 99km, airport pickups www.alpineexpeditions.co.nz
to stay Snowline Lodge at the base offers ski in/ski share accommodation with all meals or self-catering backpacker at Forest Lodge on lower access road.
more info & packages www.mtcheeseman.co.nz
Safari Trips from Methven www.blackdiamondsafaris.co.nz
top lift 1,874m base 1540m vert 334m
terrain • 25% adv/exp • 45% int • 30% beg
lifts 2 t-bars, learner tow day pass $nzd 79