When most people think of skiing New Zealand they probably immediately think of places like The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Treble Cone and Cardrona. There’s no doubt, these ski fields are amazing, but there’s another one you may not have heard about that actually offers incredible ski fields too. Mt Hutt is located a little over an hour from Christchurch, making it a destination that’s easy to visit not just for locals, but overseas visitors too. If you’re looking for insight into this hidden ski spot, look no further! Here’s my essential guide to everything you need to know about visiting Methven and Mt Hutt.
But first, watch this…
Must-know tips for visiting New Zealand
If this is your first time visiting New Zealand, there are a couple of things you need to know before you set off:
- Unlike Australia, you won’t find a never ending roster of deadly predators lurking around the place. NZ is free from snakes, sharks, spiders and all those other deadly creatures that call Australia home
- Kiwis love their burgers! You’ll find plenty of great burger shops dotted all over the South Island, including Devil Burger, Red Star, Burger Fuel and the eternally famous Fergburger. Be sure to try as many burgers as possible – it’s kind of your duty, right?!
- You can buy alcohol at supermarkets in New Zealand but will need your passport with you as ID (a driver’s license won’t cut it)
- The border control/customs team in New Zealand are super strict so be sure to clean any dirt off your shoes and don’t try to bring in any wooden or food items
- Kiwis are environmentally conscious, so keep your eye out for recycling bins and sustainable practices implemented around the place
- When driving from place to place make sure you factor in extra time to stop and photograph because you’ll likely spot some gorgeous spots along the way
- Read my full guide on ‘Things to know before you visit New Zealand‘ here
How to get to Methven and Mt Hutt
It’ll take you around 1 hour 15 minutes to drive from Christchurch to Methven, the little town nestled at the bottom of the Southern Alps that acts as a base for visitors to Mt Hutt. What’s great about Mt Hutt is that it’s a budget-friendly, super easy alternative for holiday-makers looking for some winter fun without wanting to venture as far south as Queenstown. If you’re based in Brisbane or the east coast of Australia, it’s easy and affordable to fly to Christchurch, hire a car and drive out to Methven. In some instances, it’s an even better alternative to venturing down to Thredbo as you’ll be treated to New Zealand’s fantastic winter sports conditions and natural beauty at a comparable price! We made our visit to Mt Hutt part of our ski/snowboard trip itinerary, opting to drive from Christchurch down to Queenstown and Wanaka, visiting the southern ski fields first, then making the drive back up and ending our trip with two nights in Methven and a few days on the Mt Hutt ski fields.
Best time to visit Mt Hutt
If you’re looking to make the most of Mt Hutt’s amazing ski field you’ll want to plan your visit around the winter months – June, July and August. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds you should pay attention to when New Zealanders are on holidays and avoid these time, particularly school holidays! You may also like to consider visiting as late as September when the days are getting longer as Spring starts to peek around the corner. We visited in mid-July and found conditions to be absolutely perfect!
Where to stay in Methven
We stayed in the heart of Methven, spending two nights at The Lodge and found it to be the perfect base for our ski and snowboard adventures! The hotel is located right in the heart of Methven, which isn’t really all that hard given it’s a pretty small town. That said, the location made it really easy for us to head out on foot, visit the local cafes, shops and pubs and not have to worry about climbing back into the car and driving each time we wanted to go somewhere.
The accommodation itself is simple, clean, comfortable and just the ideal spot for a visit to Mt Hutt. We’re talking the kind of accommodation you look forward to getting back to after a big day on the slopes because it’s cosy, comfortable and the perfect place to unwind each day! Don’t let the understated facade fool you, The Lodge offers great accommodation.
We stayed in a double room which was really spacious and comfortable, equipped with 1 Queen and 1 Single bed. Our room was really spacious, we could easily spread out our all our luggage and ski gear and still have plenty of room to walk around easily. The bed was really nice and comfortable, offering us a great night’s sleep each evening, which we really needed after a big day of skiing and snowboarding. There’s loads of storage and cupboard space, making it easy to hang up all your ski gear to dry out in the nice warm room. The bathroom was spacious, very clean and the shower offered fantastic water pressure for a nice, steamy, hot shower.
You’ll find the wifi really fast and totally free! I was even able to watch some Netflix without any trouble. The room also includes a mini-fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, a television, heater and a desk and chair. Like I said, decked out with everything you need. There’s a continental breakfast each morning which offers guests toast and condiments, cereals, tea and coffee – a great, simple start to each day before you head up to the mountain. Attached to the hotel is restaurant and bar, Crossroads, where you can get your hands on a glass of wine or cold beer as well as a delicious dinner. Best of all, guests of the hotel are offered a discount on food and drinks!
We had a great stay at The Lodge and really looked forward to getting back to the room each day, finding it a very comfortable spot to be based. It offered great accommodations, easy access to the local area and a warm, welcoming and very friendly atmosphere which made our stay extra enjoyable.
Best things to see and do in Methven
Without a doubt, the number one thing to do is visit Mt Hutt and spend your time shredding the slopes! If you’re planning on driving up to Mt Hutt you’ll need to check the road conditions before heading up and make sure you’re carrying snow chains if required to do so. To make life a little easier, we booked ourselves on one of the local shuttle bus services, Snowman Shuttles, which dropped us up at the ski field in the morning and picked us up in the afternoon.
Of all the fields we visited, Mt Hutt was the biggest surprise package. From the top, standing on the snow, you can see all the way out to the water, which kind of blew our minds. By the time I visited Mt Hutt I had a few lessons under my belt as well as having made my way down Treble Cone twice and Cardrona a few times, so I was really ready to spend the day working on my turns and trying out my shred skills. I absolutely loved Mt Hutt! Highway 72 was the perfect run for me, offering plenty of space to take some nice, wide turns and soak in insanely good views of the local area.
The boys also loved Mt Hutt as it offered 4 freestyle terrain parks, 365 hectares of snow to play on, 1 six seater, 1 four seater, 1 three seater and 2 learner lifts as well. The guys, being more advanced, were able to really get into the terrain and leave the trails, giving them more to explore. Of course, there’s a childcare and a wide range of restaurants and cafes to visit – we ate at Huber’s Hutt and loved the food and coffee (and cold beers at the end of the day).
Where to eat and must-try food
I love food. Like, really really love food! Based on that information, here are my picks on where to find great food in Methven:
- You absolutely must eat at local hero, Truck Norris Texas BBQ! We ate there on our first night and loved it so much we went back again on the second night – it was just so good
- If you love dumplings and ramen be sure to make a visit to Purple Dragon
- Visit Pioneers Cafe for a yummy lunch, their soups are divine and the toasted sandwiches really hit the spot
- If you’re after hearty pub grub, look no further than The Blue Pub or The Brown Pub
- For something a bit fancier, check out The Dubliner
- Head out for breakfast at Arabica Cafe
- Duck into Cafe Primo e Secundo for breakfast, brunch or lunch
- Grab a bite to eat at Crossroads
What to pack for a trip to New Zealand
Packing can be tough and New Zealand is no exception, here are my tips on a few things you definitely need to pack:
- If you’re visiting in winter you’ll definitely need weatherproof gear that keeps the wet and wind out – I’d recommend two snow-friendly jackets, thermal underwear, plenty of warm clothing you can layer, beanies, gloves, neck warmers and lovely thick socks
- If you’re visiting in the warmer months you’ll be looking to pack comfortable, cool clothing but still including a few layering options just in case you catch a chilly afternoon or evening
- Be sure to pack waterproof shoes, hiking shoes and make sure they’re comfortable
- You’ll definitely need sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat to protect you from sunburn (even if you’re visiting in winter!)
- I tend to find my skin dries out in New Zealand so be sure to pack lots of moisturisers, lip balm and any other particularly nourishing products you might have
- Read my full ‘What to pack for a trip to New Zealand‘ guide here.
Watch our Skiing the South Island video!
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.