With 400ha of steep gnarly terrain and three high capacity rope tows to take you there Craigieburn is definitely worth checking out.
Snow and weather rating:❆❆❆
Craigieburn like the rest of the fields in the Craigieburn range does best in south easterly storms – although larger westerly storms also reach the field. The layout of the field over two valleys means that Craigieburn can hold on to snow in leaner times. Consequently you can normally find good snow a week or so after a big storm.
Terrain & Lifts (NutCrackers) Rating:❆❆❆❆
Being spread over two basins Craigieburn has a lot to offer terrain wise – the pitch is generally always steep and suited to more advanced skiers.
The main bulk of the field is contained in the left hand basin, where the three tows will give you 500 metres of vert to play with. You can either head down the valley or go left of the tow. Traversing out left will take you under Hamilton Peak and further round to the Remarkables.
The right hand option takes you to Craigieburn’s infamous chutes – it can be a little tricky finding your way into these, so it pays to scope from below first. Generally they get mellower the further you go from the tow. The chutes funnel you into the middle basin from where you can cut back to the tows or continue down middle basin. This run is Craigieburn’s show piece. You can ski all the way out to the road but the better option is to cut right and look for a small goat track through the beech forest that pops you out behind the lodges. Then you only have a small hike back to the bottom tow. When the snow is on, this run is often described as poor mans heli-skiing.
Craigieburn also has New Zealand’s only tree run. This is accessed by hiking the ridge in front of the day lodge which will put you at the top of an avalanche path through the trees. These lower slopes are often thin on snow due to the low altitude.
Terrain explained in video form:
Adult standard in a bunk room is $95 which includes breakfast and a three course meal dinner, you will need to clear your own plates. There are also private ensuite rooms on offer for $230.
Getting to Craigieburn is pretty easy – it is only 110 km or 1.5hr from Christchurch on Highway 73. Look out for the sign “Craigieburn Valley Ski Area” which is just after the sign to Broken River. The mountain road winds gently up through picturesque beech forest and although narrow is good for a club field. Any field in New Zealand in the South Island it is a good idea to carry chains.
Cost per turn: ❆❆❆
At $75 dollars a day Craigieburn is very much in line with the other club fields in the range.
Bottom line: overall stoke factor 4
If there was an award for best all round club field, Craigieburn would win. It is easy to get too, has good tows and epic terrain.