The Ski Selwyn Six Handy Resources Guide
The Selwyn Ski Areas have a lot to offer for those wanting to spend some time in the mountains, extend their skills and have unique experiences. For people used to skiing at more developed resorts the uncrowded and relaxed atmosphere at the Selwyn Six will be a welcome surprise.
While the ski areas and surrounding Selwyn region have everything you need to have a fantastic time in the mountains those new to them may need a few pointers on how to plan an epic trip and make the most of the winter season.
If you want to:
Learn to ski off-piste
One of the great things about the Selwyn Six is that they're an off-piste paradise with a wide variety of terrain on offer. Porters and Cheeseman have fantastic grooming with great off-piste runs as well. Broken River will occasionally have a little grooming and Mt Olympus, Craigieburn and Temple Basin are all entirely off-piste. For the uninitiated it can be a little tricky to ski powder or any ungroomed snow but very rewarding and fun when you get the hang of it. Lessons are a great way to get the skills dialed in. The ski areas all offer options for a private or group lesson and some even have immersive camps over more than one day to really get in to it. Skiing confidently in powder has to be one of the best feelings in the world! It is well worth getting pointers on how to do it with confidence and style.
Give ski touring a go
Ski touring is a natural progression for skiers and boarders keen to explore outside the boundary and find new terrain and untracked snow. In recent years more lightweight gear options have come on to the market. Ski touring is rising in popularity each year including splitboarding, where snowboarders can convert their boards to skis in order to travel uphill with skins.
Heading out on a guided trip is highly recommended to learn what is required to travel safely in the backcountry. Chill offer trips in association with Anna Keeling Guiding in the Craigieburn Range that are well worth checking out. At Temple Basin each year in Splitfest, a splitboarding festival with demos, courses and tips and a great crew.
Black Diamond Safaris offer trips that can be customised to suit your group.
Avalanche Awareness courses are also offered throughout each season by Chill. Check out the multi day courses on offer at Broken River and Temple Basin too.
Try out some new gear
Gear can make a huge difference in ski and boarding progression. Powder specific skis and boards can make it easier to 'float' in deeper snow and lighter boots are much easier to hike in for example.
Keep an eye out for demo days at the ski areas or visit Gnomes in Darfield for demo as well as hire gear. For ski touring gear Gnomes offer full set ups and splitboarders can get in touch with SplitN2 who also have hire options. You can hire backcountry equipment to try before you buy such as transceivers and packs.
People who are regularly using the rope tows will want to purchase their own kit. Many find a harness much more comfortable than a belt for use with a nutcracker. Gnomes have harnesses and nutcrackers for sale and hire as do Chill in Christchurch.
Plan a road trip
Many will visit the Selwyn district from Christchurch. If flying in you can hire a car from the airport and head west. If your trip is going to be self-catered you may want to consider stocking up in Christchurch. Hire ski gear can be booked in advanced and collected from Gnomes in Darfield. Gnomes hire out gear for the rope tows and ski touring as well as full ski set ups and chains if needed for your vehicle. The last stop for gas when heading west is Springfield Service Centre. The team here can also help out with any vehicle related issues. When the snow is falling it is a good idea to check the road status as Porters and Arthur's Pass can be affected by winter conditions.
There are plenty of accommodation options on and off the mountains. If you're keen to base yourself in one place to explore the ski areas Castle Hill Village is a good one.
Get a multi-mountain pass
The Chill Pass is great if you want to try out all the ski areas in Selwyn. The Pass is available as a full season, 30 day consecutive or Travel Pass. The Travel Pass is typically for 7 or 10 Days and 'clips' off the pass can also be used towards on-mountain accommodation, lessons or shared with a buddy.
Get involved with the ski clubs over summer
Ski club culture is built around a lot of good times and hard work. In summer there is a lot to be done to prepare and improve the ski areas for winter. Those who volunteer their time can be rewarded with discounted skiing and accommodation. The mountains are a beautiful place to be in summer as well as winter and this is a great way to meet other people with the same interests. The club ski areas tend to use Facebook to promote summer activities so keep an eye out or contact them directly to find out how you can become involved in the summer months.
Stick to a budget
For those wanting to plan a great trip to the mountains on a budget the Ski Selwyn Six have some great options. Here are some tips and ideas:
Self-catered accommodation is available at less than $60 per night at:
-Bottom Hut at Mt Olympus
-Forest Lodge at Mt Cheeseman
Or go for the catered option at any of the ski areas - taking the hassle out of buying and cooking your own food!
Consider half-day and mid-week passes (check with each ski area for what is on offer).
Car-pool, share a ride. The Chill Pass Holders and Canterbury Ski Touring groups on Facebook are good places if you're looking for others to go with.
Get an early-bird pass from Chill, you can sign up to the newsletter to be kept in the loop here.
Join a club and/or participate in work-parties.
The Sheffield Pie Shop is a great place to stop on the way to and from the mountains for a cheap and filling lunch or snack. Check out their freezer for $1 steals to stash for later!