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Explore Christchurch and beyond

Our urban hire bikes are perfect for strolls through Hagley Park

Rainbow Ski Area

At the top of the South Island, the Nelson, Tasman, and Marlborough regions are blessed with the Nelson Lakes National Park and Rainbow Ski Area. It’s a seriously fun and friendly ski area, with facilities to match a medium-sized commercial operation. There’s extensive snowmaking, a terrain park (with its own tow), 5 tows including a T-bar and Platter, with plenty of grooming. The terrain caters for beginners, intermediate and advanced.

About Rainbow

Located in the St Arnaud Range, the ski area is approximately 1½ hours’ drive from Nelson or Blenheim and only 40 minutes from St Arnaud Township. Carry chains and put them on if directed. There’s also a regular shuttle service from the bottom of the access road.

A series of well-groomed pistes ensure there are plenty of trails down and great skiing. Off-piste, the terrain ranges from jibby features to wide open powder bowls. Accessing significant backcountry terrain is possible along the St Arnaud Range. Check with their snow patrol to share your intentions.

For those that wish to lap the Rainbow Community Park there is a great variety of features with 3 jump terraces and plenty of scope to progress.

The base area is home to the rental shop, car park and awesome Rainbow café. The delicious fare on offer is all made in-house with fresh ingredients and awesome coffee.

Trail Map

Rainbow Trail Map

Terrain and Weather Tip

Westerlies provide the best snow for Rainbow. The sunny east-facing slopes make for great skiing. West Bowl access tow is awesome for off-piste skiing.


The closest accommodation is in beautiful St Arnaud at the northern end of Lake Rotoiti. It's a small alpine village with a petrol station, café-restaurant and store. It's a popular base for exploring Nelson Lakes National Park and there are chalets to rent, motels, campsites and a lodge. 

Chill Tip

Keep an eye on those weather maps, as Rainbow is the most northern ski area on the Chill Pass (on the South Island) and it often catches heavy westerly snow that can miss the mountains further South.

Check List

For a Great Picture: Take the access tow to West Bowl and ski to the ridge for views of Nelson Lakes National Park and Lake Rotoiti below.
For all Abilities: Jump in the park, there are mini features for groms and the ‘too old’ alike.

Snow Forecast

Rainbow Stats

Beginner 25%
Intermediate 55%
Advanced 20%

Piste: Main Runs Groomed

Main Lifts 1x T-Bar, 1x Intermediate Platter, 2 x Fixed Grip Rope Tows
Learner Lifts 1x Fixed Grip Rope Tow
Terrain Park: Yes

Top Elevation 1758m
Bottom Elevation 1540m

Ski/Board Hire: Yes
Lessons: Yes
Access: 2WD with chains when required

Day Pass Rates:
Adult $125
Student/Senior $90
Youth (7-17) $70
Child Under 7 Koha

Half Day, Multi Day, Learner Slope and Family Rates also available.

Draw Card: Sunny faces, spectacular views and uncrowded slopes.

Key Contacts

Mountain Phone: +64 3 521 1861

Useful Links

Where to eat
Chill Passes

NZ Mountain Safety Council



Heading backcountry? Make sure you’re ready: