Skiing Made Easy
Mt Cheeseman Ski Area is approximately 100km from Christchurch and offers an abundance of beginner to intermediate terrain at an affordable price. It has both groomed ski runs for the beginner and intermediate skiers, while also providing plenty of off-piste runs for the more advanced and adventurous skiers. Often there are snow safety courses run from the Mt Cheeseman Ski Area.
Mt Cheeseman is a wonderful ski area that is somewhat unique to New Zealand club fields in that it uses T-bar lifts rather than nutcrackers. This greatly increases the ease of access, allowing beginner and intermediate skiers access to more of the mountain.
Shockingly, even with the ease of access and the affordable prices, Mt Cheeseman offers an escape from the crowded nature of most commercial ski resorts. If you want a nice, relaxed atmosphere in the Craigieburn Range, you can't beat the small crowds of Mt Cheeseman. The relatively modest crowds also offer you the opportunity to find some fresh powder long after you would at more crowded areas.
It has two on-site accommodations, Snowline Lodge that offers a ski-in, ski-out lodge that includes three meals and either shared or private rooms. The other is a self-catering backpackers lodge, Forest Lodge. This is a budget accommodation with shared rooms. There is no onsite cook at Forest Lodge and no shuttle service to the mountain but that is more than made up for with it's affordability.
If you are looking for easily accessed skiing near a major city, Mt Cheeseman is ideal. The road into the area is well maintained (if a bit scary) and signs will mark where chains will be required. Obviously, as with all mountain roads, 4WD is preferred but not necessarily required. You won't find a better, more relaxing spot for beginner to intermediate skiers. The ease of access and moderate difficulty makes it an ideal destination for a winter ski retreat.