10 South Island Ski Fields and Bars for Your Après-Ski
The feeling of cracking open a cold beverage after a hard day on the ski fields is tough to beat. Whether it’s while soaking those sore muscles in a hot tub, or changing gears for a big night out, it always feels like a drink well earned. Even more so if it’s freezing outside.
Words by: Nicole Mudgway
When it comes to the best pubs to visit after coming down the mountain, we’ve got you covered. From breweries to hotel pubs, this list takes our 10 favourite ski fields in the South Island and pairs them with the best place to visit for your après-ski (aka 'after ski') beverage.
Mt Hutt + Barkers Lodge
It is easy to see why Mt Hutt is hailed as Canterbury’s premier ski field. With three chairlifts, including one high speed six seater, a top tier terrain park and fantastic trails, the mountain also offers stunning views across the Canterbury plains. Nothing beats ocean views from the top of a snowy mountain!
Afterwards, seek out The Patrons Brewing Co, in nearby Methven for beer with personality, literally. Each beer has its own character, in recognition of the eclectic patronage it welcomes through its doors. If you don’t fancy beer, there is an extensive list of wine, gin and whiskey too, for that après-ski bevvy.
The Remarkables + Altitude Brewing
Centred around an enormous basin, The Remarkables features an enormous bowl for beginners, some of the region’s best backcountry skiing and jaw-dropping vistas on a bluebird day. When you’ve had your fill of the snow, park up in the recently refurbished base building, with panoramic views and scrumptious hot chocolates to boot, or head back down the mountain to Altitude Brewing. With epic, ground-up views of the mountain you were just skiing, this funky little brewery has certainly stamped its mark on Queenstown’s budding brewery scene. IPAs and sours are plentiful on the menu; order a paddle so that you can try five at once. There is also usually a rotation of food trucks on site, to satisfy that post-slopes hunger.
Coronet Peak + Smiths Craft Beer House, Atlas Beer Café
For the snow fanatics, Coronet Peak offers ‘first tracks’ (an extra hour of access before the mountain opens each day) as well as night skiing, in case first tracks just isn’t enough. Coronet Peak hosts a wide range of advanced terrain, as well as many national and global ski events. Give it your all and then head down to Smiths Craft Beer House or the Atlas Beer Cafe for some yummy burgers, pizzas, tacos and, as the names suggest, beer. Both are lively, fun après-ski destinations in the heart of Queenstown; perfect spots to fill up on good food and drink before sampling Queenstown’s legendary nightlife.
Treble Cone + B.Social and Rhyme and Reason
Treble Cone is home to some of the longest runs in the country and the steep terrain makes it one of the best places to be after a fresh dumping of snow. Treble Cone’s northern facing slopes make it popular for spring skiing, especially on closing day, where costumes are donned and good times are had by all.
After you’ve descended the notorious access road and enjoyed the scenic 40 minute drive back to Wanaka, b.social bar and adjoining brewery (b.effect) are ready to welcome you with freshly poured beers and a classic brewpub menu. Every tasting flight should include their best-selling Rebel for Kicks Hazy IPA and also their Pop ‘n Pils Pilsner, winner of the 2017 Brewers Awards. Nearby Rhyme and Reason is another great après-ski option for kicking off those snow boots and putting your feet up in a relaxed, homely bar atmosphere. Bring your pup, bring your dinner (if you want, although they do have snacks available) and sit back with a pint in hand. Time it right and you’ll be there for their excellent value happy hour too.
Rainbow Skifield + Alpine lodge
The South Island’s northernmost ski hill, Rainbow Ski Area, is as happy a place as its name suggests. Well groomed trails span a sun-soaked basin, dotted with a large T-bar and several rope tows. It provides ideal terrain for those learning to ski or board, yet is still plenty of fun for the more advanced.
The pot of gold waiting at the end of this particular rainbow is the Alpine Lodge, located in St Arnaud, the gateway to the Nelson Lakes’ National Park. Striking the perfect balance between a relaxing getaway and family friendly, it’s not hard to find oneself never wanting to leave. Tuck into a beautifully executed meal and order another round, you’ve earned it.
Photo: Nick Suturin (of Improv Works)
Cardrona Ski Field + Cardrona Hotel
Cardrona Valley Road, Cardrona, Wānaka
Cardrona is one of the most family friendly ski fields in the region, home to a highly regarded ski school and expansive beginner and intermediate terrain. Mere minutes from the entrance to the ski field, in a place that's neither here nor there (read: neither Wanaka nor Queenstown), lies the iconic Cardrona Hotel. Far more than just a photo-ready facade, the pub is the perfect pitstop for your drive home. After a long day shredding that snow, treat yourself to a refreshing après-ski cold beer or mulled wine, whilst tucking into some hearty pub fare, all the while staying warm next to the cosy fire.
Cheeseman, Porters, Broken River and Craigieburn Ski Fields + Springfield Pub
Other than Mt Hutt, Canterbury is home to several smaller snow clubs, including Porters Alpine Resort, Mt Cheeseman, Broken River and Craigieburn, all of which have their own loyal following. Porters is the closest to Christchurch, at about 90 minutes away.
Usually uncrowded and less costly than the bigger resorts, these mountains are loved by locals, most of whom also love stopping by The Springfield Hotel afterwards. The owner, Blair, appears to be on a first name basis with most, and his friendly service, coupled with the exceptional pub grub and always cold beer, leaves locals feeling lucky to call this place home.
Photo: Mt Cheeseman Ski Field.
Ohau + Lake Ohau Lodge
It may only have one chair lift, but one chair is all you need when the basin is magical. The scenery at Ohau epitomises most New Zealanders' image of a bluebird day, inevitably reinforced by the resort often being photographed in snow magazines.
The ski field sits atop the sparkling and ethereal Lake Ohau, and lakeside lies the Lake Ohau Lodge, a must-stop at the end of the day, even better if it’s your bed for the night. Sit down to a three course meal, let the beers flow and the good times roll. And the best thing about its location is you can wake up in the morning and be back on the slopes in minutes.
Roundhill + Burkes Brewing
Main Road, State Highway 8, Lake Tekapo, South Canterbury
Another jewel in Lake Tekapo’s crown is Roundhill Ski Area, a friendly mountain (both terrain-wise and people-wise) for children and beginner skiing. For a challenge, take the Heritage Express Rope Tow and head off-piste - it’s stunning on a powder day.
Down in the township of Lake Tekapo lies the aptly named Blue Lake Eatery & Bar, also home to the award-winning microbrewery, Burkes Brewing Co. If it’s not a freshly poured beer you are after, try their famous inhouse margarita or a glass of wine - with an emphasis on sourcing small, independent wine producers, you can be sure there will be something different to try.
Hanmer Springs Ski Area + MK Restaurant
Hanmer Springs Ski Area may only be small with limited facilities, but it's got a huge heart. Bring your own gear or hire it in the township, pack your own lunch as food options are limited, and come equipped for the gnarly road in. Once you arrive, you may never want to leave.
The perfect spot for après-ski dinner and drinks is MK Restaurant in Hanmer Springs. Serving dumplings from all around the world - think pierogies to empanadas and gyoza to ravioli, take your pick and enjoy a reasonably priced wine (also from all around the world) to accompany it. Save room for dessert!
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