Ohau (skifield)

Ohau is a small commercial skifield in the foothills of New Zealand's Southern Alps, near the boundary between the Otago and Canterbury regions, and close to the western shore of the lake of the same name. The skifield was originally developed by the Mount Cook and Southern Lakes Tourist Co.[1] The field's service town, Lake Ohau Alpine Village, is located on the shore of the lake to the south of the skifield.

Ohau Snow Field
LocationSouth Island, New Zealand
Nearest major cityWanaka, New Zealand
Vertical400 m
Top elevation1925 m
Base elevation1425 m
Skiable area125 hectares
Lift system3 total; 1 chairlift , 1 snow mat, 1 platter
Lift capacity2295/hour
Terrain parks2
Night skiingNo


In 2004, a new two seater chairlift was installed on the slopes. This chairlift opened up the snowfield a lot more and increased the lift-accessible terrain. The next year, the longest snowmat in New Zealand was installed in place of the ropetow. The skifield now has 3 lifts (1 chairlift, 1 platter lift and 1 snowmat).

The base altitude is 1400 m and the highest altitude is 1825 m. The access road is an unsealed alpine road but is usually kept in good condition with buses leaving from the lodge daily.

Historically, the season has run from mid-July to early October. In 2008, a new 23-cannon, fully automated snowmaking system was installed, allowing the skifield to open earlier, capturing lucrative July school holiday business.

Expansion plans

In March 2012 it was announced that an ex-Treble Cone 2 seater chair lift had been purchased. This was to be installed over the following summer in time for the 2013 season, giving visitors a secondary access to the peak.[2] This installation did not occur, and in June 2013 it was announced this chair lift had been traded for the ex-Cardrona "La Franchie" 2 seater chair lift to be installed depending on the success of the 2013 winter season. This new chair lift has a claimed increased capacity of 1200 skiers and boarders per hour on a 4.5 minute trip.[3] In March 2014 it was noted, "unfortunately we cannot afford to put in the chairlift for 2014 but hopefully if the business continues to trend upwards we can put it in for 2015!"[4]


Ohau has some of the most spectacular mountain views in New Zealand. From the summit of the skifield a view of the Southern Alps can be seen. From the skifield runs, Lake Ōhau and the Mackenzie Basin can be seen spread out below in the valley floor. There are good views across the lake to Ben Ohau.

View of Lake Ōhau


  1. Wigley, Harry The Mount Cook way: The first fifty years of the Mount Cook Company Auckland: Collins, 1979
  2. Mike & Louise, Neilson. "Ohau Newsletter". Ohau Snow Fields and Lake Ohau Lodge. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  3. "Ohau Plans Second Peak Chairlift!". World Snowboard Guide. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  4. "Ohau Snow Fields and Lake Ohau Lodge". Ohau Snow Fields and Lake Ohau Lodge. Mike & Louise Neilson. Retrieved 21 March 2014.