Skiing and Snowboarding at Mt Dobson, New Zealand

Are you planning a New Zealand snow holiday? If so, the resorts on your agenda will most likely include Cardrona, Coronet Peak, Mt Hutt, The Remarkables and Treble Cone.

And as much as we love the above resorts, at The Snow Chasers we’re all about exploring.  So recently we threw the snowboards in the back of the ute and headed north (from Queenstown), hoping to discover some new riding territory. And to our surprise there are quite a few ski areas within a 3-hour drive from Queenstown, namely Mt Ohau, Round Hill, and Mt Dobson. On this particular trip, we visited Mt Dobson but are planning on riding the other two very soon – watch this space!

 THE DRIVE UP TO MT DOBSON. LIKE THE REST OF NEW ZEALAND, SPECTACULAR.

THE DRIVE UP TO MT DOBSON. LIKE THE REST OF NEW ZEALAND, SPECTACULAR.

Mt Dobson, or affectionally known as Dobo to the locals, is located between Tekapo and Fairlie, about 280kms north of Queenstown and 200kms south of Christchurch. The access road leaves the Fairlie-Tekapo Rd (8) about 12kms from Fairlie and is approx. 14km to the carpark. The road is not too challenging or narrow but having a 4wd is definitely the best option – 2wd access is OK but expect to fit chains even with the lightest snowfall.

Mt Dobson Mountain Statistics

  • Base Area Elevation: 1615m
  • Highest Lifted Point: 2030m
  • Vertical Rise: 415m
  • Skiable Area: 400+ hectares
  • Trails: 14+
  • Terrain: 25% beginner / 50% intermediate / 25% advanced
  • Lifts: 1 x Triple Chair, 1 x T-Bar, 1 x Poma, 1 x beginner rope tow
  • Operating Hours: 9am to 4pm

For a little bit of fun, I thought I would perform a suggested warm-up routine!

Accommodation

There is no on-mountain accommodation available at Mt Dobson so look to stay in either Tekapo (absolutely magic views over Lake Tekapo) or Fairlie. You could try Burkes Pass or Kimbell too but there are limited options in these small towns. And if you’re in Fairlie or passing through, be sure to drop into the Fairlie Bakehouse – pies and cakes to satisfy everyone!

Tickets and Facilities at Mt Dobson

The carpark is right at the base, with less than a 2-minute walk to the ticket office.

 THE TICKET OFFICE AND CAFE - BOTH RUN BY THE SAME LONE STAFF MEMBER!

THE TICKET OFFICE AND CAFE - BOTH RUN BY THE SAME LONE STAFF MEMBER!

Lift tickets will set you back $84 for a full day and $58 for a half day (from 12:30pm). There’s one small café serving mainly pies (from Fairlie Bakehouse), coffee and snacks. With the carpark so close, we noticed the locals would picnic out of their cars – some even had little camping ovens! A cool option if you had time to plan.

 

 

 

 

 THE UNCROWDED LUNCH AREA OVERLOOKING THE SADDLE CHAIR

THE UNCROWDED LUNCH AREA OVERLOOKING THE SADDLE CHAIR

The Mountain

The mountain is serviced by a fixed triple chair, one T-bar, one Poma and one beginner’s rope tow. The beginner area is pretty small but the Poma-serviced runs are very mellow so no problems for newbies. That is, if they master the Poma – we had to have a couple of attempts on our snowboards! People on skis, or at least those who knew what they were doing, didn’t seem to struggle as much.

 A LITTLE SIDE-HIT ACTION.

A LITTLE SIDE-HIT ACTION.

Dobo does a pretty good job on their groomers – plenty of terrain to explore if you don’t want to ride off-piste. As there hadn’t been much new snow recently, we mainly rode the Saddle Chair to make the most of the freshly groomed runs. Just under the chair is a natural halfpipe that we had a heap of fun on. There are also plenty of little side hits to keep things interesting. It was pretty much blue runs off the chair – fun but not too challenging. Riding to the top of the Fairlie Ridge T-Bar allows you to drop some interesting terrain, like Early Morning and Top Fence. We rode these but had to be a little reserved, carefully avoiding the rocks. We still managed to find little pockets of pow, even though the last snow reported was only 2cm the day before.

 THE NATURAL HALF PIPE UNDER THE SADDLE CHAIR. YES, SOME OF THOSE LINES ARE OURS!

THE NATURAL HALF PIPE UNDER THE SADDLE CHAIR. YES, SOME OF THOSE LINES ARE OURS!

And that’s the great thing about riding out-of-the way places – you still find fresh lines even though it hadn’t snowed in a day or two. And no lift lines either – straight on every time! Most of the day we really felt like we had the mountain to ourselves.

 JEN ENJOYING A WELL DESERVED REST AFTER RIDING THE LONG, STEEP FAIRLIE RIDGE T-BAR.

JEN ENJOYING A WELL DESERVED REST AFTER RIDING THE LONG, STEEP FAIRLIE RIDGE T-BAR.

Without a doubt, we were looking at lines we'd love to drop on a powder day - Mt Dobson would offer some pretty amazing terrain on a (or recent) powder day. At a guess, I think we really only got to ride half the mountain due to the lack of snow – a visit will be scheduled on a pow day!

 MT DOBSON TRAIL MAP

MT DOBSON TRAIL MAP

Ski Resorts Off The Beaten Track

There was definitely a different vibe at Mt Dobson compared to the larger commercial ski fields. Although still classified as a commercial ski area, it has a club field atmosphere – very relaxed and uncrowded. Just be prepared as the facilities and lifts are not the same as the commercial ski resorts but if want to explore new terrain, have uncrowded lift lines, slopes and lunch areas, then  Mt Dobson is a great option for skiing in New Zealand.

 OVERLOOKING 'TOP FENCE' - WE DROPPED IT BUT WANT TO HIT IT AGAIN ON A POWDER DAY.

OVERLOOKING 'TOP FENCE' - WE DROPPED IT BUT WANT TO HIT IT AGAIN ON A POWDER DAY.

If you’ve been to Mt Dodson or have another favourite out-of-the-way New Zealand ski resort you’d like to share your thoughts on, or have any questions, please leave a comment below.

 WE'RE A PRETTY HEALTHY BUNCH AT THE SNOW CHASERS BUT SOMETIMES YOU JUST GOTTA INDULGE.  ENJOYING A CRONUT AT THE FAMOUS FAIRLIE BAKEHOUSE.

WE'RE A PRETTY HEALTHY BUNCH AT THE SNOW CHASERS BUT SOMETIMES YOU JUST GOTTA INDULGE.  ENJOYING A CRONUT AT THE FAMOUS FAIRLIE BAKEHOUSE.

Until then, keep searching for the perfect line!

Mick

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