Hands down the most hardcore place to go skiing in New Zealand. Situated in Arthur’s Pass, right on the Main Divide, Temple offers a truly unique alpine experience. The field has no road access and can only be accessed on foot. However what makes Temple Basin is it’s terrain. It would be safe to claim that Temple is the spiritual home of big mountain riding in New Zealand.
Being close to the West Coast, Temple gets its fair share of big westerly storms. This is reflected in Temples 11.5m annual snowfall however this also means it gets it’s share of rain. A few degrees can be the difference between epic pow and the field being turned into a river. Like many of the Canterbury club fields, Temple does not have grooming or snow making.
Temple has three tows with a vertical drop of 427 metres. The tows are spread out which significantly increases the accessible terrain. However this results in frequent hikes between the tows. Thus skiing at Temple Basin is best thought of as lift assisted inbound backcountry.
Oddly enough, Temple also offers some decent terrain for learners in the form of Cassidy tow, although lack of grooming can make the learning curve a little steep at times.
There is night skiing on Temple tow, which is often a rowdy affair. It does however have a practical application as in storms, the darkness helps turn up the contrast in whiteout conditions, making skiing possible.
Being situated right on the Main Divide, skiing Temple is mountainous, not just hilly. The terrain is more like that of the Alps, only shorter runs. The skiing, accessed via the tows and a little hiking, is chock full of gnarly lines, from tight chutes to open powder filled bowls – this place does not disappoint. However what makes Temple Basin is it’s never ending supply of side country. Head to Mt Temple for tight chutes, the Minger for mellow open powder, or either of the Phippes for long lines on big terrain. There are also other zones to be had which are all within easy hiking distance of the field. Have a chat with ski patrol as they are always keen to share their knowledge and more often than not come along for the ride.
This video is a good representation of the lines that are possible here…
The field has has two lodges with capacity for 120 people to stay on the mountain. Both lodges are fairly modern with large common areas and a bar. There is also a full-time chef, serving three hot meals each day. However staying on the mountain is not just about convenience, being remote and surrounded by large mountains is part of the unique Temple Basin experience.
Getting to Temple Basin can be a bit of a mission, it is best explained in the video below….
Bottom line: overall stoke factor❆❆❆❆❆
Definitely not a place to miss for anyone with a sense of adventure, but remember that the hiking never stops at Temple.