What Is Temple Basin?

Kathy Heydasch

Temple Basin is a club skifield located on New Zealand's South Island in an area known as Arthur's Pass. Its rough natural terrain has made it a popular skiing and snowboarding destination in the area and internationally. The area has two major ski resorts with various amenities. Temple Basin is only accessible via a 45-minute hike, with limited accessibility being a common aspect among many club skifields.

Temple Basin is a popular skiing destination with 2 major ski resorts.
Temple Basin is a popular skiing destination with 2 major ski resorts.

A club skifield is mostly a New Zealand term used to describe ski resorts that are open to the public, but paying members of the clubs can receive highly discounted rates for skiing and other activities. Temple Basin is one such club skifield located about two hours from the largest city on the South Island of New Zealand, Christchurch. It is run by two ski resorts, the Temple Basin Ski Club and the Canterbury University Snow Sports Club.

Temple Basin is a skifield located on New Zealand's South Island.
Temple Basin is a skifield located on New Zealand's South Island.

Over an almost 800-acre area, Temple Basin has some courses that are only available via hiking, making it an adventure sports haven. Some courses, however, have rope tows which are mechanical systems for carrying skiers and snowboarders back up the hill. Temple Basin has three such major rope tows, which are also known as ski tows or handle tows, and one beginner's tow.

Cassidy Tow is one of the major rope tows, and is a great area for beginner and intermediate skiers. A visitor can then walk to Temple Tow, which is an intermediate slope. Another short walk later, one arrives at Downhill Basin, which is Temple Basin's highest rope tow, which offers intermediate and advanced skiing opportunities.

From Downhill Basin, intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders can access two areas without rope tows. The first is Bills Basin, which has intermediate slopes. The other is called Minger Valley and since it is not regularly patrolled, it is usually reserved for back-country enthusiasts. Minger Valley is also on the western side of the southern alps, so it receives much more significant snowstorms than areas in the east.

Temple Basin is the home to an instructional facility called the New Zealand Snow Safety Institute. Open year-round to allow for teaching about the variety of weather conditions and climates, the Institute hosts a series of courses on climbing, mountaineering and safety. Some courses are designed for the outdoor enthusiast, like Avalanche Awareness, with instructional learning about the terrain and general mountain activity safety. Other courses are designed specifically for potential ski patrollers to gain education and eventual qualification.

Temple Basin is located about two hours from Christchurch, New Zealand.
Temple Basin is located about two hours from Christchurch, New Zealand.

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Discussion Comments


@LisaLou - If you are visiting New Zealand between the first part of July and early October, you should get some Temple Basin ski time in.

I don't think the prices are unreasonable and pretty much what I expect to pay anywhere for a good day of skiing.

They have different prices for youth, students and adults. You can expect to pay anywhere from $20 - $70 per day depending on which category you fit in to.

They also have some modern lodges where you can spend the night if you want to ski more than one day. I would definitely call ahead and make sure they have room if you are interested in that.

I just went for the day, but talked to several people who were staying over night in the lodges.

You can get a lot of useful ski information from online sites before you go. The Temple Basin has 3 tow ropes, so if you are used to ski lifts, this might take a little getting used to.

There is also a free lift that will transport your gear to the top of the mountain if you don't want to carry it all the way.

If you get the chance to go, I would take advantage of it. It is an experience that you will never forget.


This ski area sounds absolutely awesome! I have always wanted to ski overseas and this sounds like a great place.

We are going to be going on a trip to New Zealand next year, and I wonder what months of the year their ski season is?

I have heard the scenery in New Zealand is amazing, and think visiting the snow covered mountains would be worth it, even if I didn't get a chance to ski.

I am also wondering how much it costs to ski at a place like this. Since I am not a member, would I even be able to afford it?


I spent a year in New Zealand as a student, and knew I wanted to visit Temple Basin ski area while I was there.

They don't have nearly as long a season like they do at many ski resorts in the United States. They also don't make any snow, but the scenery is absolutely beautiful.

Even though I had been skiing in the mountains, this was even better than I thought it would be. You don't have to be a member to ski there, but be prepared for the hour long hike each way just to get to the slopes.

Usually at the end of a day of skiing I am pretty worn out. The worst part was taking an hour to get back to the car. It wasn't so bad getting there because you are excited and taking everything in as you go.

At the end of the day you just want to get back to your room and enjoy a nice long soak in the tub!

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