CRAIGIEBURN VALLEY SKI AREA
Located in the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, where the ups are good, and the downs are even better. Steep narrow chutes, wide open powder bowls, uncrowded runs or just a place to take it easy in the awesome vista of the Craigieburn Range. If you are an advanced or expert rider then skiing The Big One at Craigieburn is your holy grail!
A warning to the uninitiated – you will not find any chairlifts, gondolas, grooming, snow-making, golf courses, day spas or fine dining here. What we do offer is a friendly club atmosphere and an environmentally responsible approach to skiing and snowboarding.
It’s more like a fully serviced backcountry experience, where you will enjoy a quality day of recreation rather than racking up vertical metres with the hoards. While the mountain itself offers some of the easiest access advanced off piste skiing anywhere in the world, Craigieburn offers much more than a place to ski. The cosy slopeside accommodation is the seasonal home to a community of snow addicts from all over the globe who collectively share their stories over dinner after a day on the hill. Craigieburn is a non-profit, charitable organisation run by enthusiastic club members and even more dedicated seasonal staff. It exists solely for the purpose of skiing and snowboarding, not for commercial gain.
GEOGRAPHY AND TERRAIN
Craigieburn Valley Ski Area is located on State Highway 73 between Springfield and Arthurs Pass (check out directions). Situated on the north western end of the Craigieburn Range, the ski area encompases two large basins which recieve snowfall predominantly from easterly storm systems, as well as large westerly systems which make it over the main divide. Unique to the ski area is the large amount of intermediate to advanced terrain encompassing a number of aspects and elevations, so there is always plenty of skiing available in any conditions. The quality of terrain which is tow accessed or by a short traverse is equal to some of the best in the world.
Unlike most New Zealand skiing, Craigieburn Ski Area straddles two distinct ridge lines and valleys and is well known for its hidden gems usually only the locals can find. This video gives a good idea of some of the terrain on offer at Craigieburn. Narrated by staff member Kyle Armstrong, he walks us through the layout of the ski area and gives away a few secret stashes.
While the terrain is more suited for the intermediate to advanced skier / boader, a competent beginner with a determined attitude will learn alot in a day at Craigieburn. Three high capacity rope tows service a vertical rise of 500m. Terrain at Craigieburn Valley is varied, exciting and challenging with the infamous 600m vertical descent of Middle basin (which is often compared to a heliskiing experience) accessible by an easy traverse from the tow.
Check out the trail map here to get your bearings a little better. https://www.craigieburn.co.nz/About/Trails
HIKING AND SKI TOURING
The Craigieburn Range is world famous for its many hiking and ski-touring opportunities that lie beyond the patrolled area, including quick trips to Castle or North Middle Basin, both of which can be skied out to the lodge or to the access road 15 minutes walk from the access tow. Ski touring options further to North Middle or into Allan’s Basin or Broken River are often possible or full day or overnight trips. See the New Zealand Alpine Club article on ski touring in the Craigieburn Range for more info.
Travel in groups, know your Snowcraft, long-range weather forecasts, wear avalanche transceivers, and consult the Skifield manager or field staff before departing. You MUST obey closures.