Mount Hutt

Ski Resort in New Zealand

Introduction

Mount Hutt is probably New Zealand’s best known ski resort with breathtaking views from the top of Mount Hutt (2,086m) overlooking the patchwork Canterbury plains that stretch out to the Pacific Ocean in one direction and the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps to the other – it’s an impressive and memorable vantage point.

Mount Hutt rises to the west of the Canterbury Plains in the South Island of New Zealand, above the braided upper reaches of the Rakaia River, and 80 kilometres west of Christchurch. Its summit is 2190 metres above sea level.

The mountain is home to a commercial alpine ski area with the largest skiable area in the South Island (3.65 square kilometres), and a vertical height of 683 metres.

It caters for a wide range of skiers, with a "magic carpet" lift for beginners, good intermediate and advanced runs, and access to large off-piste areas. The most advanced runs on the mountain are through the rock formations at the top of the field known as "The Towers", and the South Face. Lift facilities include a high-speed six seater chair, a quad chair, triple chair and magic carpet. The magic carpet is the world's first fully enclosed by shipping containers.

The snow season is from June to October. Mount Hutt prides itself on and historically being the first ski-field in the Southern Hemisphere to open at the beginning of each season. However, its steep thirteen kilometre access road is prone to closure in poor weather, giving the skifield the nickname "Mount Shut." On 12 August 2010, winds of up to 200 km/h struck the ski area, resulting in its closure along with the access road, and stranding 1200 people on the mountain overnight, where they were accommodated in the ski-field's base buildings. The road was reopened the following day.

Since there is no accommodation on the mountain, most visitors stay in the nearby town of Methven, a 35-minute drive to the mountain. The larger town of Ashburton is 55 minutes away. The city of Christchurch is one hour 45 minutes drive away.


Mount Hutt Snow and Weather

Mt Hutt receives 4 metres of snowfall on average per season, which is impressive relative to other NZ commercial ski resorts, but like its NZ counterparts the snow conditions can be incredibly variable. Anything is possible including dry powder, mashed potatoes, cement, slush or ice.

One of the shortcomings of Mt Hutt is that it sits on the edge of the mountain range and is exposed to cold and strong southerly winds. Mt Hutt has unaffectionately been called Mt Shut because the ski area and the steep windy access road are at the mercy of the weather gods. Bring a book, hang out in the Blue Pub or find other non-skiing activities in Methven, as there’s a reasonable chance that the resort will be closed for at least one day during your stay. Or if it’s open, not all lifts may be operating.

Poor weather results in the resort being closed 14 days per season on average, but because Mt Hutt has such a long season, the positive spin is that it has more “open” days per season than other resorts. And of course, bad weather is often accompanied by snowfall, and the geographical features of Mt Hutt means that it catches the snow like a baseball glove. Powderhounds are happy for the resort to be closed sometimes if it means more snow!

Another advantage of the exposed nature of Mt Hutt is that it provides views that are nothing short of extraordinary. On a clear day you can see right across the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific. Over the back of the mountain there are amazing views of the snow-covered Southern Alps which seem to go on forever.

Accommodation & Hotels

There is no accommodation on-mountain at Mt Hutt. The nearest main town is Methven which is a 30-40 minute drive away.

Methven is a quiet country town compared to the touristy hustle and bustle of Queenstown and Wanaka. It is situated a one hour drive from Christchurch, so it is easy to access directly from Christchurch airport.

Methven accommodation includes a range of options. In addition to hotels, Methven has cosy bed and breakfasts, family run lodges, backpackers, and motels. For well priced quality accommodation, Mt Taylor Lodge is a good choice.


 

Ski Area

Mt Hutt isn’t just Canterbury’s own “big mountain” – it’s also one of New Zealand’s largest ski areas with some of the best natural snow around. With an altitude of 2086m and a skiable area of 365 hectares, Mt Hutt has one of the longest vertical drops in the South Island and a great variety of terrain.

It also comes with spectacular views – on a clear day from the summit you can see the Pacific Ocean in one direction and into the heart of the Southern Alps in the other.

Just a 35-minute drive from Methven village, Mt Hutt is renowned for its big snow. Great natural snow is captured in its south-facing basin and combined with 75 snow guns, Mt Hutt consistently has one of the longest snow seasons in the South Island.

Featuring modern chair lifts and world-class facilities, the area is perfect for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. Beginners feel just as comfortable on wide, groomed runs as the freestyle enthusiasts are on terrain parks, or the world-class athletes who train at the international race arena.

In 2015 Mt Hutt was announced as the Best Ski Resort at the 3rd Annual World Ski Awards in Kitzbuhel, Austria.


For Beginners

The magic carpet serviced run provides young children or first timers with a safe area to get the feel of sliding on snow. The next progression is the gentle Highway 72 that slowly traverses down from the quad chair and is as wide as a highway!


Mt Hutt Skiing - Intermediates

With 50 percent of the trails rated as blue, Mt Hutt is a great intermediate mountain with long cruisy (and reasonably steep) pistes. Broadway is probably the easiest of these, and for fast leg burning runs, try Hubers Run and Lower Fascination. When the snow is good, confident intermediates can also easily navigate runs such as Towers and the Virgin Mile Ridge.


For the Family/Kids

Mt Hutt is very family-friendly. The magic carpet at the base is great for young children, and because three of the four lifts originate from the base, everyone returns to the same spot so it’s very social and easy to keep track of the family.


Terrain Parks and Pipe

There is plenty to keep freestylers entertained. Mt Hutt has a FIS specification half-pipe and two terrain parks featuring a variety of tabletops, kickers and rails. The one to the left of the quad chair is the “Terrain Mini Park” with two lanes of easy hits. The Up and Go Terrain park is more advanced and is located to the right of the quad chair.

In getting around the resort, there’s a little bit of skating for snowboarders along some of the trails, but it’s not too troublesome.


Advanced Skiing Mount Hutt

When the snow is fresh, Mt Hutt rocks! The awesome terrain around the edges of the resort becomes a playground. For example the Virgin Mile provides access to the bowl into runs like Low Drive or Hydro Slide, which are quite steep and amazing with a fresh cover of powder.

On the flip side, if the snow hasn’t fallen for some time, Mt Hutt can be a bit boring or excessively challenging. The Virgin Mile becomes tricky to tackle especially if wind-affected or icy, or if the wind has exposed obstacles and hazards such as rocks. Towers has some fairly steep and often bumpy terrain, and when it’s icy it is definitely for experts only.


Expert Skiing Mt Hutt

Further afield to the left of the lift is the South Face, the piece de resistance of Mt Hutt. The runs have a good fall-line and if you are lucky to get there just after a big dump, it can be like an epic heli skiing run. The egress is via the bottom of the Towers triple chair, so if the snow cover is marginal it can be a bit treacherous for your skis or board. Keep an eye on the boundaries as these are not roped off, just marked with an orange pole.

Ski lifts & pass


Mt Hutt Lifts

Gone are the t-bars of Mt Hutt! The lift system has been streamlined and now there are only four well planned lifts that provide an efficient lift service. A new 6-pack summit express lift has replaced the old quad, and now a quad chair services the terrain parks and some of the intermediate terrain.

In addition to recent lift infrastructure development, excellent summer grooming and trail cutting has provided better access to the terrain on the outer parts of the resort without the need to traverse.


Lift Tickets

Lift tickets are not as expensive as those at Treble Cone or Coronet Peak, but they are still reasonably costly. Thankfully there are good discounts available on lift passes for families, beginners, multi-day tickets and combo packages. If inclement weather closes the resort and you’ve purchased multi-day tickets, a full refund is on offer.

1
Day
2
Days
3
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4
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5
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6
Days

Adults

$99

$180

SAVE $18

$270

SAVE $27

$340

SAVE $56

$425

SAVE $70

$510

SAVE $84

Youth

(11-17 yrs)

$50

$96

SAVE $4

$144

SAVE $6

$180

SAVE $20

$225

SAVE $25

$270

SAVE $30

Child

(10 yrs and under)

FREE

FREE

FREE

FREE

FREE

FREE

Senior

(65+ yrs)

$50

$96

SAVE $4

$144

SAVE $6

$180

SAVE $20

$225

SAVE $25

$270

SAVE $30


LIFT & LESSON

Full day lift pass and group lesson
from $198

LIFT & RENTAL

Full day lift pass and recreational ski hire
from $147

LIFT, LESSON & RENTAL

Full day lift pass, group lesson and recreational ski hire
from $213

FIRST TIMERS

Packages for first time skiers and snowboarders
from $130

Activities & Things to do

Mt Hutt has a few activities to do other than just the lift accessed skiing. Methven and the nearby area also offer various things to do in case Mt Hutt becomes “Mt Shut”.

Mt Hutt Heli Ski and other Heli Skiing near MethvenYou can heli-ski from Mt Hutt with Mt Hutt Helicopters who offer a range of heliski and scenic flight options from Mt Hutt and Methven. From Mt Hutt they offer single runs or a 3 run package. They are operated by Methven Heliski so it’s a reputable company. The heli skiing season is fairly short and is generally doesn’t start until late July or early August.

Family ActivitiesA popular family activity at Mt Hutt is tobogganing on the slope adjoining the magic carpet run.

Adventure ActivitiesMt Hutt has bungy jumping on-mountain off Kea Rock with Mt Hutt Bungy. The costs are cheaper than what you’d find around Queenstown, and they can also offer the unique experience of a bungy off a jump ramp with your skis or snowboard on. Crazy Kiwis!

Other activities in the area include hot air ballooning, but if Mt Hutt is shut due to windy conditions then this won’t be operating either. Similarly skydiving is not a useful down-day activity as it only operates on no wind days with good visibility. If you need an adventure activity on bad weather days, go jet-boating.

Facilities & Services

All the resort facilities at Mt Hutt are located within or close to the day lodge. The day lodge was recently expanded and renovated so it is modern and contains all the required services. These include eating facilities, child care, ski school, ski and snowboard equipment rental, and lockers. The ski lockers are free overnight for those who rent equipment on the hill.


Mt Hutt Ski Hire & Snowboard Rentals

The Mt Hutt ski hire set-up is well organised. The quality of the standard rental equipment is good and there are performance rental skis and snowboards with strap-in binding systems available.

Mt Hutt ski hire is more expensive than snowboard and Methven ski hire, but it is advantageous if you plan to spend multiple days at Mt Hutt. It has the benefit of not having to lug equipment up and down the mountain, and allows the ability to swap and change equipment as required.

There are two Methven ski hire shops, all providing a range of standard equipment, performance gear and powder skis.

Both Mt Hutt and the hire shops in Methven have refund policies in the (likely!) event that Mt Hutt is closed.


Facilities for Children

Skiwiland crèche is for 2 to 5 year olds, and the Skiwi pack is available for ages 4-5 which has a combination of indoor childcare and a little skiing tuition. Mt Hutt has the advantage that it offers various packages, some of which include lunchtime supervision but not lunch itself.

Kea club is for ages 6-12 and involves ski school which runs simultaneously with adult ski school. It is possible to get a full day package (10am-4pm) which includes a couple of lessons, and supervision in the non-lesson times (including supervision over the lunch break but not lunch itself).


Mt Hutt Ski School

Mt Hutt offers tuition for boarding, skiing and telemarking in a group format for 1 hour, 50 minutes, and private lessons in 1, 3 or 5 hour blocks. Prices for private lessons are a little cheaper than at the other big commercial ski resorts, whilst group lessons are fairly comparable.

A whole range of other development programs for children, youth and adults are available.


Eating On Mountain

Huber’s Hut is the highlight of dining on-mountain at Mt Hutt. It is a lovely café with old-style western saloon décor that is cosy and inviting. There is an upstairs area with great couches and a sundeck outside to catch all the on-slope action. The coffee is terrific and the food basic, but tasty.

The day lodge features a huge cafeteria that has little charm, especially in comparison to Huber’s Hut, but it’s very functional. It also has a deck for sunny days where you’ll need to “keep your eyes on your fries” as the keas have a bad reputation for stealing food. Keep an eye on your gloves too because they’ll have a crack at anything. They’ve even been known to pick up a beer bottle to take a swig. Beer guzzling keas!

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