Ohau Snow Fields Terrain


Ohau Snow Fields Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Ohau Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    1,425 – 1,825 (400)
  • Average Snow Fall
    ?  metres
  • Lifts (3)
    1 double chair
    1 platter lift
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am - 4:00pm
    end June to early Oct
  • Terrain Summary
    Longest run – ? km
    Beginner - 20%
    Intermediate - 50%
    Advanced - 30%

Ohau Ski and Snowboard Terrain

The lift-accessed terrain at the Ohau Snow Fields is reasonably small. The vertical drop is also small at 400 metres but this is fairly close to the average for New Zealand ski resorts. As is typical for ski fields in the Mackenzie District (including Roundhill and Mt Dobson), there is a distinct lack of hordes when you ski Ohau. Sweet as…

The Ohau Snow Fields is contained within one reasonably steep valley and has lots of lumps and bumps to make the terrain interesting. With the exception of a few groomed trails, the ski field is an off-piste haven. The main part of the terrain is only serviced by one chairlift, so a degree of traversing may be required to get to the goods.

Ohau ski field has evolved somewhat over recent years with investments in lift, snowmaking and terrain park infrastructure, and it seems that there are plans for further enhancement in the future.

Ohau Lifts

For a small ski area it is rather luxurious to have a chairlift rather than a ropetow, even if it’s just a slow chair. It is also rather lavish that the kids have a magic carpet! The other beginners’ area is serviced by a platter lift.

The owners have plans for another chairlift to be installed to the lookers’ left of the ski area, which would open up more terrain and the lift accessed vertical.

Lift Tickets

Lift tickets are delightfully inexpensive and are further discounted for those staying at the Ohau Lodge.

Kids’ tickets are very cheap, in part because they’re valid for 17 years and under. Kids under 6 ski free whilst over 65s get 50% discount, and other discounted tickets include a half day or learners lift pass.

Ohau Snow and Weather

The average annual snowfall is unknown but is assumed to be in the realm of a few metres. Early season snowfall is typically not plentiful, but the ski field has snow making guns to cover the main trails. The off-piste areas may not be great in the early parts of the season as they require a decent base to cover the many rocks. Snow quality is somewhat typical for a NZ ski field and the lift is south east facing so the snow quality is well maintained on most of the aspects.

Ohau is sometimes a “windy place” because the valley is somewhat exposed. This may result in the closure of the ski field occasionally.

Ski Ohau: Beginners

Ohau is a perfect ski field for learners because there are two dedicated areas where L-platers can practise without the intimidation from experienced riders whizzing past. The really inexpensive learner packages that include lift tickets, lesson and rental equipment are also a major bonus for beginners.

Confident beginners can hit The Boulevard, a groomer that snakes down the main part of the ski field.

Ohau Intermediate Ski Terrain

If you love ski resorts with a variety of cruisy groomers then Ohau is probably not the place for you. Most lower-end intermediates won’t mind the limited options, but once other intermediates whizz down the steep groomer on skiers left (often used for race training) they’ll have to hone their off-piste skills (and quickly!). Various blue runs marked on the trail map (but not via any signage) would be somewhat intimidating to the average intermediate (due to large rocks that limit the space in which to manoeuvre). As an alternative, most intermediates would be best placed to experiment in the off-piste areas between the main groomed trails.

For the Family/Kids

Ohau is great for families because it’s small and very easy to keep track of the family. The secluded beginners’ areas and their proximity to the day lodge are also a plus. The lift ticket prices for kids are also fab!

Terrain Park

Ohau Snow Fields generally has two so-so terrain parks. One is in the beginners’ area and consists of a couple of little jumps and another small park is near the top of the lift that mainly consists of table tops.

Advanced Ohau Skiing and Snowboarding

There are no groomed black runs but most of the off-piste area is suitable for advanced skiers and boarders. The slopes to the skiers’ right have interesting features including rocks and ledges to huck off. To skiers’ left the central runs are similar, but runs off the High Traverse have much more pitch. They become progressively steeper and culminate in Escalator. These lines are fabulous but way too short, especially considering the traverse that’s required.

The upper reaches of the ski area also has some pleasurable hike-to-terrain including the Ridge Run above the lift.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

On the skiers’ left there are some lovely gnarly lines past Escalator, although the traverse can be very curly depending on the amount of snow cover.

For the Powder Hound

Powder hounds will be pretty happy for a day or two after a snowfall. One factor contributing to a higher likelihood of getting freshies is the lack of crowds, but disadvantages are the small size of the ski field and the ease of being able to see fresh lines in-bounds, so it’s difficult to have your own secret powder stashes.

Hiking up to the Ridge Run is often very worthwhile and the views from the top are amazing. Alternatively a 45 minute hike up to lookers left takes you to across to Hemi’s bowl (some call it Hami’s). This long backcountry run has three sections of nice pitch, and it ends up on the road and egress requires a 5-10 minute hike up or a nice friend with a car. Avalanche risk is every present so make you have your avalanche safety gear, at least one buddy, and plenty of know how.