Broken River (BR) is the largest of the club fields, and by combining with neighbouring Craigieburn, it claims to have 900 hectares of skiing. All hyperbole aside BR is not a bad ski field and definitely one to checkout if you are new to club field skiing.
Weather and Snow:❆❆❆
Like all club fields, BR is completely reliant on natural snow fall. BR’s south facing aspect and elevation ensures it gets more snow and keeps it longer than the surrounding fields. As a result BR will often be open during the weekends late into October. The field has a groomer, albeit it’s use is sporadic so don’t expect corduroy.
The terrain at BR is diverse with something to please most tastes from intermediate through to expert. The main part of the field consists of a large rolling basin with good intermediate terrain. If you are after something a little more exciting at BR you have to traverse or hike.
Nervous Knob you can drop into Ruby Basin, which takes you all the way down to the access tow. By hiking the ridge above Ruby Basin you can often find fresh snow.
Another option that requires going out of bounds, is to drop the back side of Sunny Peak and then cut out to the main tow. The terrain in here is steep and complex so check the avalanche risk before venturing into this playground. (see Topo map for directions)
When the snow line is low it is also possible to ski out through Ruby basin to the car park which is a fun last run.
Lift System (NutCrackers):❆❆❆
BR’s lift system consists of four rope tows and a funicular(cable car) used to access the base of the ski area. The tows are all high capacity except for the ridge tow which can be a bit of a bottleneck on busy powder days.
BR has three on mountain lodges which provide fully catered and self catered options. Check it out here brokenriver.co.nz. The lodges are 10 minutes walk from the base of the field, at the top of the funicular. BR also hosts night skiing on the Ruby tow which is a bonus of staying on the mountain.
Access BR by car is fairly easy – it is 110 km from Christchurch and the mountain road is pretty mellow. On busy weekends there is often a small line up for the funicular although inconvenient it does save you a 45 minute hike from the top car park.
Non Member $75 Member $40
Over all Stoke Factor: 4
A good place to start if you’re new to nutcracker tows, with a nice mix of terrain on offer.