Ohau is a small family run operation which incorporates the Lake Ohau Lodge and Ohau Snow Fields. The ski field is located high above Lake Ohau in the Mackenzie high Country. Albeit small, Ohau offers up a rich smorgasbord of terrain, and is one of the most scenic spots to ski in New Zealand.
Although technically in the foothills of the Southern Alps, skiing at Ohau is still very much an alpine experience. The gradient of the field is generally steep and the terrain is awash with glacial features. This makes for playful terrain with dozens of cliffs and lips to hit on the way down. There are also a couple of mellow groomed trails on offer if you’re still a newbie.
You will also normally find a couple of jumps and a handful of rails on offer at Ohau.
When it comes to resort accessed backcountry Ohau definitely delivers the goods. The hikeable lines above the field are pretty obvious, however Ohau’s best kept secret is Hemi’s Bowl. Head along the ridge to the summit of Mt Sutton, from here drop into the basin towards the lake, but away from the field. This will take you through 550 vertical meters down untracked goodness to the top of the access road. Then it is only a short walk back to the chair lift.
The rest of the range also offers up numerous backcountry lines. The zone around Dumbell Lake is one such option, with both steep and mellow lines on offer.
Snow and weather:❆❆❆
Snow wise Ohau does alright; this is combination of having snowmaking, being south facing and having a relatively high elevation. Like the other Mackenzie fields it does best in southern and easterly storms. However as it is closer to the main divide than the others it also gets westerly spillover and providing reliable skiiing from late June to early October.
There is a fixed grip double chair, which gives you 400 metres of vert and 125ha terrain to play with. In addition there is a platter and a learner’s magic carpet. Currently there are also plans to add a second chair up towards Mt Sutton which would increase the terrain on offer.
Skiing at Ohau is not complete without staying at the infamous lodge, which sits on the shores of Lake Ohau. The lodge, which was originally built in the 1950’s, still preserves that old world charm -with five different classes of accommodation, hot tubs, a bar and and a restaurant that serves up 3 course meals. But what really makes the Ohau lodge is the isolated location and awe inspiring views. The lodge is also on the Contiki Kiwi Experience route which means big nights are quite common.
Bottom Line overall stoke rating:❆❆❆❆
Definitely worth the stop even if the snow is average you will find it hard not to have a good time at the lodge.
The Ohau Ball is a springtime bash and is always a good way to farewell the NZ winter.