Mount Olympus Ski Area
Skiing in the "Playground of the Gods"
The ski area at the foot of Mount Olympus, for locals also known as "Playground of the Gods", is located in the middle of the Craigieburn Range on the South Island of New Zealand.
The approach to this Club Field is pure adventure. Without all-wheel drive or snow chains the way to a seemingly abandoned container in the middle of nowhere is a sporting challenge. After an eternity we arrived late at night at the container, which turned out to be the lift house. Two good-humored Zealanders greeted us. But instead of the lift passes the Kiwis gave us a double whiskey. You first have to drink before you can buy lift tickets. Before, they would not allow us to go skiing in the "Playground of the Gods"...
Short time later, the special welcoming ceremony was only beaten by the self-built Jacuzzi at the top hut and an après-ski party, we won't forget ;)
Mount Olympus has four rope tows, that transport the skiers on the mountain. Without Nutcracker, a belt and special gloves you have little chance to survive the first few meters on the rope. The material for the lifts can be hired at a local shop. The highest of the four rope tows brings the skier finally to the starting point of the longest downhill, which has around 450 vertical meters and, and an amazing backcountry.
Among locals the Mount Olympus Ski Area is one of the secret freeride tips in the New Zealand Southern Alps. Thanks to the south-facing location this club field gets within the most precipitation (average 4.5 m). In addition, the ski area is very well protected from harmful wind effects. In combination with the challenging terrain it is a dream for off-piste oriented skiers. We at B.A.M. retrospectively think that "little Alaska" is one of the best club fields, that New Zealand has to offer.
Back to reality...
...is written on a sign at the foothills of Mt Olympus. A signal that we were back on the State Highway towards civilization and, after the exciting stay in the "Playground of the Gods", we aimed for our next stop: Temple Basin.
For more information about skiing in the Mount Olympus club field, visit the homepage here.