Mt Hutt picked up ‘Best Ski Resort’ in New Zealand for the past 3 years straight at the World Ski Awards, and if you’re quick you can grab NZ’s best season pass deal there too, just $NZD 349 adults, $229 youth and $20 – no kidding $20 – for kids 10 years and under! That is insanely good value, hop over for a week and you’ll get your money back, or make a couple of trips. But hurry, the deal ends 5th of April.
Or if you want more, the 3 Peaks Season Pass adds Coronet Peak and The Remarkables for $649 adults, $249 youth or $20 kids to 10 with no blackout dates and night skiing too at Coronet Peak!
We fell in love with Hutt a long time ago on honeymoon, and back there last year after an absence of nearly 20 years it was amazing to see the improvements all over. They generally have plenty of natural snow anyway, but the snowmaking is superb and it ran non-stop for the entire three days we were there – that’s management commitment to guest experience, and it is one of the best managed areas we have visited now.
The signage and run access has been maximised to make it easy to utilise the full terrain. Like the Virgin Mile, was a sketchy traverse line that used to scare me, it’s a well marked and groomed road any intermediate can take to check out the spectacular view over the Rakaia Gorge. Now when it’s open you can continue on the Rakaia Saddle run for extended vertical and get the pick up lift back up to the base.
The progressive terrain was always good, it was that honeymoon week that turned us into skiers for sure, compared to bashing around on short, crowded beginner runs at Thredbo, Smiggins or Selwyn, which had been the sum of our ski experience before that first Mt Hutt trip.
Making our NZ Road Movie for a week last season my grandson made huge progress on what was effectively his 5th to 7th days ever on snow, getting better daily. By the end he just didn’t want to stop, I had to drag him away so we could head out to catch our flight.
Which is another huge advantage of Mt Hutt – it’s only a bit over an hour’s drive from Christchurch Airport, and with so many flights to Christchurch from Australia it’s not hard to score some deals and maximise your season pass usage if you get on the deal. For example, we flew home on a big fat Emirates Airbus, enjoying the best service we’ve ever had in economy over the Tasman.
The season is long and consistent at Mt Hutt too. I have skied here on May 18th once, in 1991, pre-snowmaking days when they used to just open when they had enough snow and close when they didn’t – which could mean November.
In a corporate world things have to be more organised to allow for staffing levels and stuff these days, so the opening is early June till early October, with the snowmaking pretty much guaranteeing coverage if one or two of the typically monster storms Hutt gets don’t happen on cue first.
Mt Hutt is also a great and popular choice for Aussie school groups. In fact several former motels in Methven now specialise in the schools trade, and there are some great deals to be had from operators like Methven Travel and MySnow.
“We’ll host about 16,000 kids on local, national and international school groups during the season” says Matt Turner, Snow Sports Director. “On top of that we’ve got the kids rocking up with their family, plus the Skiwiland kids as well. Mt Hutt’s brilliant for development teams, especially from the Northern Hemisphere, because we’ve got some really steep straight long lines to test their edges on.”
Methven has everything you need in a ski town, from restaurants to accommodation to good pubs – the Blue Pub for example. It’s far less busy than it was in the 80s, and remains a real working rural Kiwi town with plenty of character, far different from a tourist mecca like Queenstown.
There’s challenging terrain in spades, and awesome easily accessed back and side country, for better skiers. Becuase everything funnels back to the same base area it’s easy to keep in touch with family or friends of different levels.
The road is as steep as ever, but they keep it clear with the once notorious shut downs now very limited and shortlived. We busted a chain on the steepest bit of the road in our campavan last year and were saved by Matt the rescue guy, who drives a big ute with a fat orange mattress on the front of the bull bar to push people out of trouble. He also carries big pliers and spare chain links, so with his help we were mobile again in no time.
If you don’t feel like driving grab Methven Travel shuttles from the gate, town or Christchurch.
To grab the pass – either Mt Hutt only of the Three Peaks version with Queenstown’s Remarkables and Coronet Peak as well, go to the link here.