Frequently Asked Questions
"How easy is cross-country skiing?"
Cross country skiing is a sport for everybody. The Snow Farm has ample, flat beginner terrain to get you started and our excellent instructing team is sure to get you comfortable with more challenging terrain. Overseas, the sport is enjoyed by people of all ages from 2 years old to 102!
"What should I wear?"
There are no hard and fast rules, and conditions at the Snow Farm can range from a bitterly cold windy winter’s day to a balmy spring snow day. You need to take this into account and check the weather before you come up. If we are open and you dress to the weather you can stay warm and have a fantastic time. If in doubt bring too much – you can always take a layer off.
So the minimum gear list for a day visit should look like:
- Wool/polypro hat/beanie.
- Gloves – windproof. Thick warm ones if it’s really cold. Thin polypro gloves are generally not warm enough.
- Sunglasses or goggles are essential to protect your eyes.
- Sunscreen. In August and September it is essential to apply sunscreen and lip screen/balm – may not be essential in June/July.
- Base layers, merino/polypro, that can be added or taken off. Leave the cotton T shirts at home!
- Windproof/waterproof top. Thick downhill jacket would be OK but could be a bit bulky.
- Warm windproof/waterproof pants. Definitely not jeans. Thick polypro/merino pants, winter cycling pants or even downhill pants would all be OK
Parents/caregivers – please check the gear for any children that you’re responsible for.
"How fit do I need to be?"
While cross country skiing is often cited as one of the toughest aerobic sports available, the truth is you can take it at your own pace. You certainly do not need to be in great shape to enjoy our trail network. We have skiers at all fitness levels enjoying our trails on a daily basis. If you can walk, you can certainly cross country ski!
"I have never skied before, can I cross country ski?"
Yes, you can! Cross country skiing is a great introduction to the sport of skiing. It takes away the intimidation factor of having to ride lifts or descend mountains. You start moving on a flat and level surface and develop your skills to where you can cope with moderate hills.
"Will I be able to ski to the hut after my first day on skis?"
Generally, skiers have no trouble with skiing to Meadow Hut after only one day on skis. We do suggest that you take advantage of our beginners’ package as the skills taught during the lesson will certainly help you en route to the hut.
"I have a dodgy hip/knee/ankle/.... can I still ski?"
In general yes. Cross country skiing is a very low impact form of physical activity, perfect for people with dodgy hips/knees etc. However, if you are concerned, you should always consult your doctor before trying a new form of activity.
"Can I bring my dog?"
"Do I have to master classic skiing before I try skating?"
The short answer is no. However, we do recommend that you begin learning how to ski with the classic style as it’s more akin to walking and hence easier to pick up.
"I have heard that downhills are impossible on cross country skis. Is this true?"
Not at all. While downhills are a little more difficult than you may encounter with traditional alpine skis, the Snow Farm terrain is selected to be cross country specific. You will rarely need to use any alpine techniques such as parallel or wedge turns to navigate your way around our trail system. You will only encounter short gentle slopes on our beginner and intermediate terrain. All of these slopes have good run outs, so often you wont find yourself having to snowplow or slow down at all.
"I want to go alpine touring, can I use your back country skis?"
Our back country skis are not touring skis. They are heavy duty cross country skis. You must use cross country specific boots and there is no way to clamp your heels down like standard alpine touring skis. Our back country skis are perfect for exploring the gentle hill terrain of the Pisa range, they are much lighter and therefore you can travel faster than you can on alpine touring skis.
"I have never been on snowshoes before will I need a lesson?"
All of our Snowshoe packages include a quick guide on how to fit them and where to go. This is typically enough for most people to confidently make it around our two marked trails. If you can walk, you’ll have no problems with getting out there with our lightweight snowshoes.
"I don't have my hiking boots with me, can I hire some?"
We don’t have a stock of hiking boots for hire so you’ll need to hire or buy some from the outdoor stores in Queenstown or Wanaka. Alternatively, you can hire a pair of cross country ski boots which are very lightweight and easy to walk around in.
"I want to snowshoe to the hut or outside of the snowshoe trails. Is this allowed?"
Yes, you can snowshoe on any of our trails, however we ask that you avoid walking on the classic track as this takes away from the enjoyment of other skiers.
"Is there an age limit on the Snow Fun Zone?"
Children up to 100 years of age can have fun in our Snow Fun Zone. The area is unsupervised by Snow Farm staff but is nice and gentle – a perfect way to get used to the snow!
"Can I bring my own sled or toboggan?"
Yes you may bring your own items (sled/toboggan/plastic bag, etc.) as long as you stick to the rules posted at the top of the slope (rules are rules after all!). However, we do have plenty of tubes and sleds available for use in the Snow Fun Zone at no additional cost.
"We don't have any ski clothing so can we rent some?"
No – you should bring all your own warm clothing including thermal base layers, gloves/mitts, hats and sturdy footwear. If you don’t have all your own clothing we recommend hiring some from one of the many excellent outdoor stores in Queenstown or Wanaka.
"Do you have professional photographers to take our photos?"
No – you have to take your own pics! We don’t have any photographers onsite but our lovely team are more than happy to help you take that perfect family snapshot.
"How do I get there?"
You can access the Snow Farm via road or air. See getting here for more information. If you come to the Snow Farm in winter (June to September here) you need to be prepared for driving on an unsealed alpine road. You should check the weather forecast and always carry chains and know when and how to put them on. If you have a 4WD vehicle, do not assume it doesn’t need chains. Drive to the conditions.
"When do you open for the season and when do you close?"
Our scheduled opening is usually the third or final week of June and we usually close in the third week of September. Of course, this all depends on snow cover and weather!
"Why are you called the Snow Farm?"
The name is a link into our rich history. The Snow Farm facility was originally part of a high country sheep station supporting a healthy number of the iconic South Island Merino sheep. This sheep station is still active today with the Cardrona side of the mountain being used to graze Merino sheep.
"How long have you been open?"
The Snow Farm has been serving the needs of New Zealand’s cross country skiers since it was developed and opened by the Lee family in 1988. In 2012 it was purchased by the Pisa Alpine Charitable Trust, who continue to operate the facility as a not for profit charity to this day.
"What's with all of the fences?"
The fences are part of the magic of the Snow Farm. They help to keep snow on our trails year round as they enable us to harness the wind and create snow drifts right where we want the snow. We are reliant on these fences as we don’t have any form of artificial snow making.
"Can I leave my car at the car park when I spend a night at one of the huts?"
Yes. The car park is pretty safe for a modern locked car. It is at the end of a 13 km unsealed road.
"Can we ski tour across the Snow Farm land to get to the Pisa Conservation Area?"
We recognise the importance of ensuring that access is provided to the unique, high quality ski touring experience available in the Pisa Conservation Area.
Ski tourers can pay a $20 road access maintenance fee and use the marked track that runs south from the Snow Farm Lodge for about 300m on our groomed trail before turning east and heading down an ungroomed valley to Musterer’s Flat. From there, you can cross Meg Stream into the Pisa Conservation Area.
Alternatively, for $10 per person (a portion of this goes towards road maintenance), ski tourers can use the Snow Farm groomed trails to access the Pisa Conservation Area at Musterers Flat. If you use this option, please don’t travel on the groomed trails any more than two abreast, stay out of the formed grooves (classic tracks) in the trails, and keep left!
There is a legal easement route north of the Snow Farm Lodge but this begins within the operational area of the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds, an extremely busy operational area that presents multiple health and safety hazards to the public using this easement. You will need to make specific arrangements with Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds (Ph. 03 443 0344) to use this option.
The $20 per car road maintenance access fee or the $10 per person groomed trail access fee can be paid at the Snow Farm office at the northern end of the Snow Farm Lodge.
The Snow Farm does not patrol the Pisa Conservation Area and you need to ensure your own and your group’s safety. Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
- Plan Your Trip
- Tell Someone Your Plans
- Be Aware Of The Weather
- Know Your Limits
- Take Sufficient Supplies
"What's the story about dog-sledding?"
Dog-sledding happens at the Snow Farm. Our great friends at Underdog NZ provide a fantastic experience on part of the Snow farm trails. Please contact them via their website.
- Hut bookings are very popular during the winter period and must be paid for in advance.
- If a booking is cancelled, we will endeavour to provide an alternative date in that season but if non are available, we are not obliged to find an alternative date.
- If a booking is cancelled more than three weeks prior to a paid booking, we will provide a 100% refund.
- If a booking is cancelled between three weeks and one week prior to a paid booking, we will provide a 50% refund.
- If a booking is cancelled less than one week prior to a paid booking, we will not provide a refund.
- If the Snow Farm is closed on the day of a booking, we will endeavour to provide an alternative date or provide a full refund if a mutually acceptable date cannot be found.
- If the Snow Farm is open but the weather conditions are considered by the Snow Farm to be unsuitable for young children (booked for the hut), the Snow Farm will endeavour to provide an alternative date in that season. If a suitable date cannot be found, the Snow Farm will provide a 50% refund.
- If the Snow Farm is closed or on hold when a booking applies, a full refund will be provided.
- When in the opinion of Snow Farm the weather is unsuitable for young children but the Snow farm is open, e.g., cold and strong winds, we may, at our absolute discretion, refund fees for a booking involving young children.
- The Snow Farm will allow a transfer of a booking to an alternative date in that season provided that we have capacity/availability. We will not transfer a booking to the following season.
- No booking will be transferred to an alternative date more than once.