Cheeseman is located on Highway 73, a few km’s past Porter Heights on the Craigieburn Range. Situated in a southeast facing basin, the field covers an elevation range of 1570m–1840m.
The natural snowfall is pretty reliable at Cheeseman. Most of the field is also on tussock so it does not need much of a base to get going. Although Cheeseman does not have snow making, they do have a couple of groomers which regularly groom many of the trails. Groomers ensure they can move snow around to keep open in lean times.
The terrain inside the ski field is a rolling mellow affair. The terrain steepens up near the top of the field but remains open. It is definitely an intermediate skiers type of field and ideal for families.
Cheeseman’s other draw card is it’s backcountry – the field’s position in the range opens up a number of backcountry runs. The most frequently skied is Tarn Basin, which is lookers left of the top T-bar. This is a good side country option if you find yourself getting bored with the mellower terrain in the field. It is also possible to traverse along the range to Mt Olympus.
Lifts and accommodation:❆❆❆
The field’s main basin is serviced by two T-bars in addition to a small learners rope tow. This makes Cheeseman a good option if you want an uncrowded club field without nutcrackers. In terms of on mountain facilities Cheeseman is well endowed with a large day lodge and overnight accommodation.
A day pass at Cheeseman will set you back NZ$79 which is a bit for a club field, however they offer a 5 day flexible pass for NZ$275 = NZ$55 day. Single ride backcountry passes are NZ$10.
Getting to Cheeseman is pretty easy – the drive from Christchurch taking a bit over an hour which makes it a pretty easy day trip option from the city. The access road is good for a club field. If you’re not used to South Island mountain roads it gets a little exciting at the top but nothing the average driver can’t handle.
Bottom line:Overall stoke factor 3
Uncrowded family field with mellow terrain and good backcountry access.