Ski the Tasman Glacier opens southern season

snow action team 01.06.2020

Ski the Tasman Glacier are set to get the gong for first powered skiing – by lifts, heli, ski planes, snowcats or snowmobiles – in the Southern Hemisphere this winter.

Their season is ready to launch on the first official day of winter downunder.

Skiing the Tasman Glacier with views to Aoraki / Mt Cook
One of the World’s classic runs © Alpine Guides

“Conditions are already good, and we think that we should show some positivity and get the doors open and blades turning as soon as we can”

Alpine Guides General Manager Arthur McBride told Snow Action.

The Tasman Glacier is New Zealand’s longest, and claimed as the longest temperate zone glacier in the Southern Hemisphere at 23km long (the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina is 30km but we won’t quibble – it’s further south so not temperate).

Skiing down the Tasman Glacier has to be one of the World’s great intermediate skier experiences.

Ski The Tasman ski plane landing on the Tasman Glacier
The glacier take offs and landings are fun too © Ski The Tasman

Yes, intermediates with no off-piste ski experience can do the mostly gently sloping wide open glacier runs as long as they have enough fitness to cover the average 8 – 10km long runs at an easy pace. Kids 10 years and older are also welcome; parents have to ski with them at their pace is all.

It’s not a race. The Guides lead you through amazing seracs and ice formations with time for selfies and to enjoy the experience surrounded by most of the highest peaks in New Zealand. In all bar one of the peaks over 3000m in New Zealand are found in the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park area.

The highest landing point is 2,400m in the Tasman Saddle, the lowest aircraft pick up at the Malte Brun strip 1,500 metres lower for a 900m vertical descent.

Ski The Tasman Glacier ski runs map
Ski The Tasman Glacier ski runs © Ski The Tasman

The classic two run day includes a picnic lunch on the snow and pick up from Mt Cook village accommodation. It’s possible to fly up from Queenstown or Wanaka airports as well and do it as a longer day trip from there.

To kick off June Ski the Tasman have a $NZD 600 per person special for groups of 4 (the normal rate is $699 per person booked individually for July and September/October and $799 for August, the peak month).

Not much chance of Aussies getting over in June, but with the push for Trans-Tasman bubble flights gathering momentum hopefully we can not too much later in the season.

They normally fly 4 days a week, subject to weather conditions. Fine days with little wind are ski days – the rain shadow effect of the high peaks means there are plenty of these and regular top ups of snow.

While it’s an easy gradient it is natural snow, so conditions vary. They recommend using skis at least 90cm underfoot, with rentals available if you don’t own a pair that fit the bill.

Room to socially distance to the max © Ski The Tasman Glacier

Ski The Tasman Glacier is a great experience most skiers can enjoy.

For those looking for more challenging terrain, Mt Cook Heliski is the answer – New Zealand’s most spectacular heli ski terrain. More on that on the link.

If you have to wait out a bad weather day staying locally from Mt Cook Village there are some great lift accessed options, including Round Hill which boasts the only “Express Rope Tow” we have ever heard of. That rope tow accesses a huge chunk of slack country, and made #2 in our Southern Hemisphere’s Top 5 Soul ski lifts.

Accommodation and access for Ski The Tasman Glacier

Driving there is easy, turn off the main Highway 8 south on to state highway 80 for the scenic run past Lake Pukaki to the helibase at Glentanner Park at the head of the lake.
Mt Cook village is just under an hour 63km from Ohau (handy therefore as a base since if it’s a no fly day you can ski Ohau instead); 60 minutes – 83km from Tekapo (with no fly day skiing available at nearby Roundhill); 2.2 hours – / 185km north of Wanaka; 3.2 hours / 240km north of Queenstown; or 4 hours / 310km south of Christchurch.

Mt Cook Village and the wider Mackenzie area offers every level of accommodation – from the deluxe Pukaki Lodge to hotels and MT Cook YHA, all within an easy drive of the helipad.

As mentioned in getting there, staying at Lake Ohau or Tekapo with nearby Roundhill give you alternative ski options on no fly days. Mt Cook Village just 23km away is closest. Glentanner Park is right next to the Mt Cook Heliski base with motel units and a campa park to plug your Jucy van in.
Check the link here for a full list of options.

Bookings and more details

For those with limited time flying up from Queenstown or Wanaka for the day is also popular at extra cost – check this and all booking details on the Ski The Tasman site.