has the North Island's largest ski fields on the one mountain, Whakapapa on the north side and Turoa on the southwestern.
Both fields can be accessed via National Park, four hours' drive from Auckland and Wellington. From National Park village it's only 15 minutes' drive to Whakapapa and 55 minutes to Turoa. Ohakune is Turoa's closest town and has cafes, restaurants and shops.
Rental gear can be hired on both fields and at nearby towns.
A Mt Ruapehu lift pass can be used at either Whakapapa or Turoa.
In a new feature this season, after obtaining a lift pass on their first day, the mountain cardholder can reload the card online for a cheaper rate and save queuing.
Both skifields have unique charm and they each offer varied terrain. They attract skiers and snowboarders from all over the North Island, who arrive for the casual, anything goes, family feel.
Happy Valley has one of the country's largest dedicated beginners' areas, with its own valley, separate cafe and ski school. It offers competitive prices for first timers.
Above is more than 30 groomed trails for intermediate skiers and boarders and 24 black and diamond runs. Below the skifield The Chateau, a four-storey Georgian-style building, offers luxury accommodation.
Drop the kids off at Turoa Yeti Childcare Centre which caters for 2 to 5-year-olds. Ski lessons can be incorporated for those 3-5.
Turoa has plenty of challenging runs for those wanting to move from beginner to intermediate and appeals to advanced skiers. It has Australasia's longest vertical descent at 722m and New Zealand's highest lift — The High Noon Express.
Mt Hutt is a one-hour, 35-minute drive from Christchurch airport. Its closest town and accommodation, Methven, is 35 minutes' drive.
Shaped like a baseball mitt, its runs are divided into 50 per cent intermediate, 25 per cent beginner and 25 per cent advanced. Its 365ha of skiable area draws a relaxed social vibe and attracts freestylers and those keen to race.
The family oriented Mt Hutt has a fantastic deal for kids under 10: they can ski on the mountain, stay and eat in Methven and travel to the mountain from Methven for free when accompanied by a paying adult.
All-day childcare is available for children aged 3 months to 15 years. Kea Club has all-day ski and snowboard instruction for all skill levels up to the age of 15. Rental gear can be hired on the mountain.
During summer, improvements were made to the Sky High Cafe and the Hutt Base coffee bar. Earthworks have extended the terraces of the Quad Jump Line in the mini terrain park and new rail and box features have been added. There are two new trails: an intermediate-advanced run starting above the snowmaking reservoir and a new intermediate track below the lower half of Highway 72, providing skiers and riders exiting Towers a speedy alternative route back to the base area.
Mt Hutt skifield is run by commercial operator NZSki, which also operates Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, two ski resorts in Queenstown.
Queenstown — Wanaka
A short distance from Queenstown central, The Remarkables is ideal for beginners and Coronet Peak is suited to the experienced. An hour's drive away on the Crown Range and 30 minutes drive from Wanaka is the family-oriented Cardrona, suiting all skill levels. Thirty minutes' drive from Wanaka town, Treble Cone is respected by advanced, serious skiers.
Known as the Remarks, the skifield is set high in the jagged, snow-clad Remarkable Ranges, rising steeply above Lake Wakatipu. With a regular bus service from Queenstown by way of a scenic road not far from the airport, it takes you above the clouds.
The Remarkables has lots of good green trails for skiers and boarders to develop confidence as well as some mean off-piste terrain and a network of three terrain parks to suit all. There are supervised kids' programmes for those aged from 3 months to 15 years.
Last year, a high-speed six-seater chair was installed and this year its new Base Lodge is opening, complete with decks on three sides, indoor seating for up to 644 people and direct access from carpark to snow. Its new position has freed congestion in the learners' area.
Over summer, "rock grooming" improved the off-piste area and 300 new carparks have been created down the road, and there has been an increase in its snow-making capacity. Rental gear can be hired on the mountain.
Majestically rising above Arrowtown, Coronet Peak is a 25-minute drive from Queenstown and 15-minute drive from Arrowtown.
There is a large beginners' area and plenty is on offer for intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders who glide down the 2.4km M1 or enjoy mogul runs. Its no-nonsense steepness attracts teams from the US to train. Night skiing begins early July until mid-September, on Friday and Saturday nights, 4pm-9pm.
This year, the Kea Club will have its own dedicated room for up to 200. They have all-day supervised kids' programmes and Skiwiland cares for children 3 months to 5 years.
Also new is a flat area near the main building specifically for novice skiers and boarders and a 190m lane dedicated for snow tubing has been created for those wanting to try something different. All rental gear can be hired on the mountain.
The skifield in the Crown Range, one hour's drive from Queenstown and 35 minutes from Wanaka, has something for everyone.
More than 345ha skiing and boarding terrain spread across three main valleys offer a good variety of runs for all. It's an ideal place to upskill and transition through the coloured runs or practise tricks on the extensive terrain park, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
There are plenty of childcare options for babies aged 3 months to 4-year-olds. Kids' Club for 5-14-year-olds has half-day and full-day options. All gear can be rented at Cardrona.
On the mountain is fully contained, private two-to-four bedroom apartment-style accommodation, as well as five cafes. At the bottom, on Cardrona Valley Rd, mulled wine awaits at the historic Cardrona pub.
New to arrive are four more environmentally friendly Kassbohrer PistenBully snow groomers. This year, work has been done to give more space to the freestylers' area and more features in the terrain park. As well as several of the main trails being widened, a new intermediate trail has been made to connect Valley View and Tail Race trails.
A 25-minute drive from Wanaka township, Treble Cone has stunning views and is loved by advanced skiers and boarders who live for off-piste skiing. The Austrian national ski team trains there off-season and are a sight to watch.
Cheeky kea will be pleased a new open-air cafe has been added to the top of the Home Basin, as well as more eating options included within the existing dining area.
There is now more scope for those of intermediate ability since work has been done to widen some of intermediate runs and turn the Saddle Back, an advanced run, into another intermediate option.
Only performance ski rental is available for adults on the mountain.
There are family passes and a Flexi pass, which is new and can be used at either Cardrona or Treble Cone.