Ski Selwyn - Tips for First Timers

Friday, 5 August 2022

Ski Selwyn - Tips for First Timers

Heading to a new mountain for the first time is exciting for any snow enthusiast. In Selwyn the six ski areas offer a variety of terrain and unique features. While there’s joy in discovery, it is good to have a bit of information on board to pave the way for an epic day on the snow. Here are a few tips for first time visitors to the Selwyn ski areas: Porters, Cheeseman, Broken River, Craigieburn, Temple Basin and Mt Olympus.


Each of the ski areas has their own mountain lodge or lodges to bunk in. You can’t beat the convivial atmosphere and warm glow, relaxing after a day on the mountain, knowing you’ll get to wake up and do it all again the next day. If you’re looking for insider knowledge of the mountains and people to share the stoke with this is the perfect opportunity to meet the crew. Lining up an overnight stay with a powder day is a priceless experience you won't forget in a hurry.  

Temple Basin, Craigieburn Valley, Broken River, Cheeseman and Mt Olympus all have accommodation right on the ski areas and Porters Alpine Lodge is just a short drive down the access road. It is worthwhile checking out the various ski week options to really immerse yourself and enjoy legendary hospitality and uncrowded skiing. There’s also a full calendar of events to check out such as SplitFest at Temple Basin.

Mt Olympus boasts the famous Mt O Hot Tub so pack your togs for the top hut and Broken River’s White Star Chalet includes a sauna.

Temple Basin, Mt Olympus and Broken River also offer night skiing when conditions allow so take a good head torch. 


Getting up the ski area access roads can be an adventure in itself. It pays to check conditions before leaving home, especially when chains might be required to be fitted and not just carried.

The Porters access road is usually suitable for 2WD, the road is relatively short and mellow and on days where chains are required there is a shuttle from the bottom.

The road up to Cheeseman is longer but well maintained and also suitable for 2WD vehicles with chains. The carpark is a short distance from the day lodge and base area with space to unload at the top. 

Broken River offers something a bit different with the Tyndall Tramway. The passenger tramway transports you from the carpark with a spectacular ride through the native beech forest up to the lodges and ticket office. Operating in the morning and afternoons this saves a 20 minute walk. Unfortunately, due to trees falling in the first 2022 winter storm, the tram will not be open for 2022.  There is a 40 - 45 min walk through the beech forest to Lyndon Lodge.

Like Broken River, the road to Craigieburn Valley is also suitable for 2WD vehicles with chains but not campervans. The carpark is located an easy five minute stroll from the base area and lodges.

Getting to Mt Olympus can take the unprepared by surprise. The road to the bottom hut is manageable in a 2WD but often requires chains. From there up to the ski area car park it’s a little sporting and a high-ground clearance 4WD with chains on board is required.

Driving up an access road can be skipped altogether at Temple Basin where instead you park by the highway and enjoy a scenic walk up to the tows and lodges. A goods lift is a short drive west from the carpark and does the heavy lifting, just hang on to your ski poles as they come in handy for the walk up and don’t send the car keys up as you need to return to the carpark.

If you don’t have a suitable way of getting to the mountains there are a number of options including Snowpool and private shuttle operators such as Black Diamond Safaris and Smylies Transport. 


 From totally green beginners through to fully sending it, there truly is something on offer for everyone at the Selwyn ski areas. One of the best things about skiing in the region is you won't find huge crowds or lift lines, a bonus for any skier or boarder and especially those getting the hang of getting down the mountain, or up on the rope tows.

Porters has great facilities for beginners and easy progression from the platter on to the chairlift with snow makers keeping ‘Easy Street’ nice and fresh. Cassidy Basin at Temple Basin is a good option too, a mellow bowl with its own rope tow, somewhere to get the hang of both the tow and skiing off-piste.

Lovers of cruisy blues will be delighted with both Cheeseman and Porters, each offering wide-open grooming accessed by T-Bars.

Broken River also offers some groomed piste and is an excellent option for developing off-piste ski legs and getting the hang of the rope tow. The Rugby/Access tow has a slow button but like anywhere if it’s your first time just ask for help, you’ll be an old hand at it in no time.

While all the ski areas have plenty on offer for experts Craigieburn Valley, Mt Olympus and Temple Basin are renowned for steep terrain and are completely off-piste. Beginners with a determined attitude and adventurous spirit will still no doubt have a great time. Just getting up to the day lodges is worth it for the views alone.


Heading west on State Highway 73 there are a number of small towns to pick up supplies outside of Christchurch. While all the ski areas have food and drinks available it is a good idea to take extra provisions. The last stop for fuel and snacks is Springfield where the service centre also has chains available and a 24hr breakdown service.

Porters, Cheeseman and Temple Basin have ski and snowboard rental gear available. Gnomes Alpine Sports in Darfield is a fully equipped ski shop with rentals including touring equipment and rope tow gear. For the rope tows a belt or harness and nutcracker are required as well as leather gloves or a glove protector. These can be hired from the ski areas as well as Gnomes or at Chill in Christchurch where they can also be purchased. If you’re going to be using the rope tows regularly it is recommended to have your own gear. This can make using the tows easier with specially designed harnesses for comfort and also saves time or potentially missing out on busy days. Both stores have a wealth of local knowledge to tap.


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