by Chad Bennett in Cool Travel on Tuesday 17 September 2013

Australia has an increasing enthusiasm for a swathe of New Zealand’s ski options and Porters, located just over an hour’s drive from Christchurch, is fast becoming one of the top picks in the Canterbury region.

With inexpensive flights from Sydney to Christchurch taking just three hours, you can be on the slopes in less time than it takes to get down to Perisher, and the raft of quality terrain available makes the decision to go to Porters a no-brainer. With a huge late-season dump closing the well-known Mount Hutt resort last week, we circled Porters and took the short – and stunningly beautiful – drive from Methven to get amongst it.

Canterbury’s club ski fields have long been one of New Zealand skiing’s best-kept secrets, showcasing the sheer diversity of options available in the region. Away from the hustle-and-bustle of the crowds, club fields are often operated and maintained by a dedicated team of locals, and use T-bar and rope tows to access runs.

Porters gives you the best of both options. It has expanded to provide modern snowmaking and grooming facilities while at the same time maintaining the traditional – and crucially, uncrowded – feel of a club field.

Three T-bars are used to access a range of intermediate and advanced options and in Big Mama and Bluff Face, Porters boasts two of the steepest and longest runs in the region. From it’s highest point of 1980m, skiers and boarders take in the imposing skyline of the Southern Alps and the stunning Lake Coleridge below. Above all, Porters retains a friendly, relaxed atmosphere that seems harder and harder to find at larger, more commercial resorts these days.

From nearby towns, such as Springfield or Methven, Porters is easily accessed and the same goes for Christchurch. But for an authentic experience, Porters also offers lodge accommodation, a remnant from the club field days, halfway up the access road meaning you can be on the slopes in minutes.

While we weren’t able to soak in the goodness of the lodge accommodation, the drive alongside Lake Coleridge literally metres from the lake itself more than made up for it. It’s these types of experiences you can’t find anywhere else, and part of the allure of a truly great alpine region.