One of New Zealands most
challenging club fields has achieved cult status among our
advanced skiers due to its steepness, deepness and cheapness.
This field is uniquely devoid of any slopes that would form a
comfort zone for the novice skier.
Craigieburn Valley ski field
nestles under the steep face of a prominent mountain in the
Craigieburn Range called Hamilton Peak. The top tow offers
numerous route options via open powder bowls and narrow chutes
with names like Bug Out, Nuns Rabbit Warren and
Plakes Mistake. Serious skiers enjoy radical runs in this
out there terrain, and boarders seek out the
sickest drops and chutes. One infamous fall line
achieves a 600 metre vertical descent through Middle Basin.
The season runs from July to
October and the snow ratings are 0% beginners, 60% intermediate
and 40% advanced. Lifting is by three high capacity rope tows
leading up to the highest point of 1,811 metres. There is no ski
hire on the field.
Access is via a 6 km unsealed
road, which starts some 42 km from Springfield and 104 km from
Christchurch. Chains must be carried and can be hired in
Darfield. It is a 10 minute walk through beech forest from the
car park to the ski area. The Koroheke and Lincoln lodges make
overnight stays a pleasant experience. Private double rooms and
six person bunkrooms are available at economical rates.
Beyond the patrolled area
there are a range of ski-touring options. Short traverses can be
made to Alans Basin and the Broken River ski field, and a
full day of natural backcountry travel can be arranged in
consultation with the ski field manager. Some of the backcountry
runs compare very favourably with a heli-skiing experience.
Craigieburn offers phenomenal
freestyle skiing conditions for those with the requisite
experience, with the added bonus of cheap accommodation, and