Backcountry Touring Access Guidelines
How to behave when accessing the back country using ski field infrastructure.
The Federated Mountain Clubs and the New Zealand Alpine Club have liaised with all of Aotearoa's ski fields, to come up with guidelines on how to behave when accessing backcountry terrain via a ski area. The aim is to promote understanding of the hazards that can be present and encourage courtesy and respect for the field as well as the backcountry terrain. With a little courtesy and respect, we can keep open the convenient and rapid access to a day in the winter backcountry.
You can download the guidelines as a one page PDF here.
Talk to Ski patrol
It's in everyone’s best interest to have open communication
- Find out about snow and avalanche conditions and current ski field operations.
- If requested, leave your intentions and ensure you sign back in.
Respect the field
Everyone wants to have a good day out on the hill, a little respect goes a long way.
- Each mountain is different, always check out the field’s website for advice and the latest updates before you leave home.
- Skin or hike where you are not a hazard to field users.
- Respect closed areas.
- Follow the fields advice about when and where to travel through the field. (so that you are not exposed to dangerous ski field operations like avalanche bombing, de-icing, helicopters, snowmobile routes, winch groomers and cables, which can all kill.)
- Find out the ski area's policy on leaving your vehicle there outside of operational hours.
- Do not interfere with field operations or be a nuisance.
- Respect the ski areas' generosity if they allow one-ride tickets.
Respect the backcountry
One step beyond the field boundary is the backcountry!
- Plan and prepare for your trip.
- Research private property boundaries (www.WAMS.org.nz); get permission before you go.
- Take an avalanche awareness course or consider hiring a guide.
- Check the avalanche advisory (www.avalanche.net.nz)
- Always take shovel, beacon and probe, and ensure you know how to use them.
- Consider taking an emergency response device, such as a personal locator beacon.
- Make room between people and other groups when travelling.
- Always tell a responsible person your trip plan, when you plan to return and when they should notify emergency services.
- Check in with that responsible person when you are safely off the mountain.
- Never travel alone in the backcountry.
This guideline was developed by the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand, with support from the New Zealand Alpine Club. The guideline received feedback and support from 23 Ski Areas throughout Aotearoa.
Chill Snow Safety Courses & Guided Tours: chillout.co.nz/alpine/guided-alpine-tours
The Chill Mountains (includes contact details): chillout.co.nz/alpine/the-mountains
Ski Touring New Zealand: skitouring.co.nz/touring-access-guidelines
New Zealand Avalanche Advisory: avalanche.net.nz