California is truly one of the greatest destinations to rent a car, no matter if you want to get around San Francisco, drive along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway, drive up Highway 395 to Lake Tahoe, or go for a road trip over to Nevada. Either way, California makes for an ideal starting point for your journey.
Check out our guide to ensure that booking your next rental car is a seamless, fun experience. Here’s all you need to know about renting a car in California.
How Old Do You Have To Be To Rent a Car in California?
You have to be at least 21 years old to rent a car in the state of California. However, this wasn’t always the case. In fact, virtually all rental companies required the renter to be at least 25 just a couple of decades back. Here’s why.
Back in the late 20th century, renters under the age of 25 weren’t exactly profitable for suppliers. Young drivers were, on average, more likely to have an accident or get caught driving under the influence. Renting cars to young people was a risk that most companies did not want to take. Instead of modifying the rental agreements to better suit young drivers, they chose not to permit them altogether.
Luckily, times have changed. Renting a car shouldn’t be an issue for most drivers aged between 21 and 25. Some local rental companies may even let drivers as young as 18 rent a vehicle, as long as they’ve had their license for at least a year. There is one major catch, though.
Extra Fees For Young Drivers
If you’ve ever rented a car in the past, you are probably well aware of this. Pretty much every single rental company will charge an additional young driver fee, also referred to as a young driver surcharge. The fee is calculated on a per-day basis and added on top of your rental bill.
You can expect the young driver fee to be anywhere between $20 and $90 per day. The fee can vary, depending on the location, the car type, and the rental period. In the end, it all boils down to the rental company and their policies. It’s best to double-check directly with the supplier before booking your vehicle.
You can also dive into the terms and conditions for more info on fees. Here is why we recommend thoroughly reading the T&Cs before booking your vehicle.
Once again, you may be surprised to hear that there are a handful of exceptions to this rule. Some 18-year olds may be exempt from paying a young driver surcharge. Keep reading to find out more.
How To Avoid Young Driver Fees
There are a couple of ways to make your way around the young driver surcharge. Some of them are quite sneaky!
One of the easiest would be to become a member of the AAA. Memberships start at just around $60 per year, and most rental companies waive young driver fees to AAA members. If you’re planning to rent a vehicle for more than a few days, it may be worth getting an AAA membership.
Military and Government Employees
Young government and military employees, aged anywhere between 18 and 25, can often benefit from no young driver fees. In addition, most companies will even let an 18-year old government/military employee rent a car! In the vast majority of cases, this only applies to official business trips though.
The majority of rental companies waive young driver fees to all members of the USAA. To become a member of the USAA, you have to be a member of the US military. This applies to both active as well as former members, as well as their spouses and children.
Do You Need An International Driving Permit in California?
No! California does not require foreign drivers to obtain an International Driving Permit. Tourists can legally drive on California’s roads using their local driving license.
As long as the driver is at least 18 years old, has a lawfully issued driving license from their home country, and the license covers the vehicle type that they are driving, you’re all good to go! In fact, the same applies for most states in the US.
Note that some rental companies may require renters to obtain an IDP. While this is uncommon, it’s not completely unheard of. Once again, it’s best to double-check with the supplier before finalizing your booking.
Renting A Car in California- Tips and Tricks
Now that you’re all ready to being your California adventure, don’t forget to take a look at our tips and tricks. They may just make your trip even better!
Consider Extra Coverage
Unlike Europe, rental cars in the United States do not come with CDW or Theft Protection as standard. Basic protection is extremely limited, and it is strongly recommended to purchase additional coverage. You can learn more about rental car insurance in this blog post.
Check with your credit card company, many US residents have rental car insurance included in their credit card plan! Note that in some cases, you may only be eligible for coverage if you’ve paid for the rental car using that particular card.
Keep in mind that if you choose to purchase additional coverage directly at the counter, you will be charged more! It’s always cheaper to purchase coverage online, prior to your trip.
Beware of the Fees
It’s crucial to be aware of all the extra fees that are right around the corner. We have a list of nearly 20 of the most common extra fees that can quickly add up to your rental bill. Take a look at them right here.
Airport Pick-up and Drop-off
It is unarguably the most convenient to pick up your rental car directly at the airport terminal, and drop it off right before heading on the plane. Note that virtually every rental company will charge you an extra “premium location surcharge” for airport pick-up and drop-off.
If you want your rental bill to stay low, it’s best to pick a different location.
High Fuel Prices
Last but not least, don’t forget that California has some of the most expensive gas in the entire country. While fuel prices in Cali are still lower than those in Europe, it is over a dollar higher than the national average. You should take the high prices into consideration, especially when planning a long cross-country road trip.
You can check the current gas prices by state right here.
Now that you know how old do you have to be to rent a car in California, the tips and tricks to California car rental, and lots of other useful info, it’s time to go ahead and book your adventure!
Don’t forget to use Rentalmoose to compare the best deals from our trusted suppliers.
The scenic Highway 395 makes for one of the best road trips you could take in SoCal. Afterall, who wouldn’t want to drive across diverse landscapes and endless natural beauty, with two of the area’s most spectacular National Parks just a small detour away? Check out our road trip guide from Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe along Highway 395.
Must-See Spots When Driving From LA To Lake Tahoe
Some of the best attractions along this Highway 395 road trip include:
Without further ado, let’s dive into this LA to Lake Tahoe road trip guide!
by David Mark
This Highway 395 road trip begins in the legendary City of Angels.
For your maximum convenience, Rentalmoose recommends picking up your rental car directly from LAX. Note that airport pickup is usually subject to an extra fee added on top of your rental bill. If you want to avoid a premium location surcharge, it’s best to pick up your rental car somewhere in the city.
Also, most rental companies have their LAX offices outside of the terminal itself. After you’ve collected your luggage, head over and take a complimentary shuttle bus to the rental company. It should be a 5-minute ride.
What are the best things to do in Los Angeles?
Despite what some first-timers may think, there is a lot more to Los Angeles than just Hollywood or the Walk of Fame. Mulholland Drive, for example, is easily one of the best driving roads in this part of California. You can spot hundreds of bikers and petrolheads enjoying this chicane-filled drive each day.
Rentalmoose insider tip: Don’t forget to stop at the Mulholland Scenic Overlook for those classic views of the skyline! Check the map for the exact location.
The two LA attractions listed below are simply ideal for fans of the outdoors. We all need a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy city every now and again.
Runyon Canyon Park
Runyon Canyon Park is the perfect getaway located in the Hills above the city. You can enjoy an early morning jog, or simply hike up to admire unbeatable views of the Los Angeles skyline.
The North Entrance of the park can be accessed directly off Mulholland Drive. That way, you can stop for a hike while driving down LA’s favorite scenic drive. What a fun way to spend the day!
The park is open from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week. Entrance is free of charge. Your vehicle can be parked at the North Entrance off Mulholland Drive.
Griffith Observatory & Griffith Park
Griffith Park isn’t exactly a hidden gem. In fact, you have probably already seen it plenty of times in various Hollywood blockbusters and TV shows. Nonetheless, the iconic Griffith Observatory is the place to admire those picture-perfect views overlooking the LA skyline.
After a memorable night in one of the best hotels in Los Angeles (these are our favorite picks in town), it’s time to hit the road and begin your Highway 395 road trip to Lake Tahoe.
Red Rock Canyon State Park
by Matthew Dillon
To be completely honest, the Southernmost tip of Highway 395 is a little underwhelming. The route starts in the town of Victorville and the first stretch isn’t exactly picture-perfect. That’s why we recommend taking the chicane-filled Angeles Crest Highway via the Angeles National Forest. You will then reach Red Rock Canyon State Park via Lancaster instead. It is a much more exciting drive.
The scenic Red Rock Canyon State Park is located roughly 2 hours north of Los Angeles. Once you’re here, you can admire jaw-dropping natural beauty. The park borders the southern tip of the Sierra Nevada, it’s filled with scenic canyons and hiking trails that overlook it all.
You can access the hiking trails via the park’s dirt road network. It’s open to any street-legal car, so you can safely drive around in your rental car!
Camping at Red Rock Canyon State Park
Moreover, travelers who wish to spend the night here can set camp at one of the 50 campsites situated at the Ricardo Campground. Up to 8 friends can share one campsite at $25 per site, no campgrounds for larger groups are available.
Lone Pine & Mount Whitney
by Khun Hans Photography
After spending some time at the Red Rock Canyon SP, it’s time to head north into the beautiful landscapes of Sierra Nevada. A short 20-mile drive up will take you to the iconic Highway 395. Follow it for around an hour, until you reach the cute town of Lone Pine.
A slight detour to Death Valley National Park is an absolute must, especially if you haven’t been to this park before. You could even extend the trip further to see the Grand Canyon over in Arizona, too!
The village is a well-known spot for fishing. It’s also surrounded by some more spectacular natural beauty, complete with winding hiking trails to take it all in. These are some of the must-do attractions in Lone Pine.
Museum of Western Film History
Movie buffs have to drop by the Museum of Western Film History. The museum gallery is full of Western memorabilia that any enthusiast will love. Visitors can get an insightful look at how some of the most iconic Western movies were made.
You can watch a Western movie at what is perhaps the world’s best Western cinema, located within the premises. The cozy theatre can sit up to 85 guests.
The museum is open 10AM to 4PM Thursday to Monday.
Fishing in Lone Pine
Like we mentioned previously, the Lone Pine area is a popular spot among fishing fans who visit Sierra Nevada. There are plenty of fishing spots to choose from in and around Lone Pine, such as:
Check out this blog post by the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce for a guide on fishing in the Lone Pine area.
Hiking & Enjoying The Outdoors
Without a doubt, the best thing you can do in Lone Pine is simply enjoying the outdoors. There are lots of hiking trails, such as the Mobius Arch Loop Trailhead that will take you to the iconic Mobius Arch rock formation.
The Mt. Whitney Trailhead is worth paying a visit, too. From there, you could hike over to the Lone Pine Lake, which is around 6 miles (10km).
Whitney Portal Road Scenic Drive
Don’t let the short length of Whitney Portal Road fool you, this scenic drive is an absolute must-visit! The 13-mile (19km) scenic drive will take you through the heights of Alabama Hills. Movie buffs will instantly recognize this scenery from hundreds of Western films that were shot here. This area was also featured in High Sierra, an absolute classic from 1941 starring Humphrey Bogart.
Stay The Night
Before continuing further, Rentalmoose recommends spending the night in Lone Pine. Consider checking in at the cozy Dow Villa Motel. This family owned business has been welcoming guests ever since its opening in the 50s! Make the most out of the outdoor pool while you’re here.
Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
by Fred Moore
Technically, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest does require a small detour off of Highway 395. However, much like the Death Valley NP, it is highly recommended to visit it during a drive from LA to Lake Tahoe. You will not regret adding merely an hour of driving, that’s for sure!
If, somehow, you’re still not convinced about adding Bristlecone Pine Forest to your road trip itinerary, you’ll definitely want to keep reading.
This precious spot is home to some of the oldest trees found on our planet.
Many of the trees found in the Bristlecone Pine Forest are more than 4000 years old!
You can get more information about the area at the visitor center located at Schulman Grove. It’s open throughout the summer between 10AM and 5PM Thursday to Sunday.
After a hike through the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, it’s time to continue along Highway 395 until you reach Bishop, another stop worth making during a road trip from LA to Lake Tahoe.
by Jay Huang
Bishop is yet another cute town that’s situated along Highway 395. It makes for one of the favorite local getaways from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Its beautiful surrounding area makes for a great destination to visit on your drive up to Lake Tahoe.
Climbing the Buttermilks
Those who are into climbing are probably well aware of what Bishop has to offer. The nearby Buttermilks feature some of the region’s most accessible and diverse climbing areas. Every climber can have a great time enjoying these impressive boulders, no matter the skill level.
The climbs here range from beginner-friendly ones, all the way to some of the country’s most challenging routes. The Buttermilks are located only a short drive west out of Bishop. Simply follow the appropriately-named Buttermilk Road along the McGee Creek.
Nature in Bishop
As Bishop is famous for its scenic natural setting, it is an absolute must to visit at least a few of the best sites in the area. Hike up and down the challenging trailheads, go on a thrilling mountain biking adventure, or simply take in the views from the comfort of your vehicle.
Either way,you simply have to enjoy the outdoors when in Bishop.
The Four Lakes in the Bishop Creek Basin
The scenic Bishop Creek Basin is home to four spectacular lakes. Ideally, you’d want to visit all of them as each one offers a different landscape. If you only have the time to see one of them, we recommend going to the South Lake.
by Jeff Sullivan
A short 45-minute drive along Highway 395 will take you to the scenic town of Mammoth Lakes. Without a doubt, this may just be the most exciting stopover during this road trip. If you only had the time for one break between Lake Tahoe and Los Angeles, I’d strongly recommend to make it here.
Mammoth Lakes is full of attractions, no matter the time of the year. During the magical winter, you should definitely head up to the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. This resort is often considered to be the best of its kind in all of California!
Mammoth Mountain is easily the best place to go skiing in California. First-timers, as well as experienced skiers and snowboarders are all bound to have a good time here. If you’re not particularly into skiing, you can simply take the scenic gondola ride up to the summit. The views from there are magnificent.
Mammoth Mountain is a year-long destination. During the summer, travelers can play a game of golf or try out mountain biking. You can find more details about Mammoth Mountain on its official website.
Detour to Yosemite National Park
Did you know that one of the US’ best National Parks is just a small detour away? If you haven’t been to Yosemite NP before, it is strongly recommended to add a few days to your itinerary and visit it. You will not regret it, that’s for sure.
You can check out a guide around Yosemite National Park right here. Note that reservations are no longer required to enter the park!
Play Golf High Above Sea Level
Golf enthusiasts will surely have a good time when in Mammoth Lakes, as the town is home to two spectacular alpine golf courses:
Snowcreek Golf Course
Sierra Star Golf Course
You cannot go wrong with the Snowcreek golf resort. It was the first golf course in Mammoth Lakes, and is often considered to be the best one around. However, its elevation isn’t as high above sea level as the Sierra Star course.
Travelers can enjoy a game of golf accompanied by dramatic backdrops at each of the resorts. In addition, the Sierra Star golf course is also the highest-elevation 18-hole course in the entire state. You can see a driving increase of up to 10% when playing at this altitude, according to some experts.
This is it, the longest driving segment of the drive from LA to Lake Tahoe. Follow the road up north for a little over 2 and a half hours, all the way until you reach the spectacular Lake Tahoe. The equally-amazing drive is perhaps the prettiest part of California’s stretch of Highway 395, too.
Welcome to one of the most beautiful lakes in the West part of the US! There are so many great attractions and fantastic things to do in this part of Lake Tahoe, it’d be impossible to list them all. Nonetheless, these are our top picks.
Did you know that Lake Tahoe has its very own castle? The magical Vikingsholm is tucked away in the Emerald Bay, down at the southern tip of the lake.
Emerald Bay was the first destination where wealthy Californians would build their holiday homes in the late 1800s. The land where Vikingsholm is has seen summer cabins for over two centuries, though the beautiful castle erected in the late 1920s. It still remains here today, making for a truly magnificent spot.
by Mike McBey
You’ll probably quickly realize that Vikingsholm doesn’t exactly look like your typical North American building. The unique name is another giveaway of the property’s Scandinavian descent. In fact, Vikingsholm was commissioned by Mrs Lora Josephine Knight who had been in love with Scandinavian fjords. The natural setting of Lake Tahoe reminded her of Northern Europe.
Today, Vikingsholm welcomes tourists from across the planet. You can learn more about the property and all of its secrets during a guided tour.
Note that the property is 1-mile away from the car park, it is only accessible on foot or by boat.
Swimming & Sunbathing
Unwinding at a sandy beach does sound like the ideal way to spend the day. A well-deserved afternoon of relaxation isn’t exactly a road trip essential, though it certainly wouldn’t hurt. You should make the most out of the fact that swimming is permitted in Lake Tahoe. Enjoy the crystal-clear waters and impressive alpine backdrops!
These are some of the best beaches at South Lake Tahoe.
Zephyr Cove Beach
South Lake Tahoe- Where To Stay
Travelers who wish to stay at a fun-packed resort should certainly consider booking a room or suite at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Resort. The 3-star property features spacious and modern rooms, though those who stay here will probably hang around the casino downstairs. Moreover, you can expect tons of live shows, cool bars to spend the evening at, and much more!
Alternatively, you could opt for the waterfront Beach Retreat & Lodge. The 3-star property boasts modern rooms that overlook the lake, three waterfront restaurants, and a marina with kayaks and boat rentals.
After you’re done with your Highway 395 road trip, you could drive over to San Francisco and drop your rental car off there. Alternatively, you could drive back from Lake Tahoe to Los Angeles via the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, one of the best driving roads on the planet.
Bonus- Rent A Car To Drive From LA To Lake Tahoe
Like any other road trip, the answer is largely subjective. If you’re a fan of sports cars, you’ll surely enjoy a lavish roadster or a classic American muscle car. No matter what car you’re after, Rentalmoose has got you covered. Browse through options from the industry leaders and ensure you get the best deal with Rentalmoose.
If you’re hesitant about renting a car for the Highway 395 road trip and would rather use your own vehicle, check out this blog post. It may just change your mind.
Don’t forget to use Rentalmoose to find the best rental car deal for this road trip!
Get your car from Rentalmoose, we plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.
New Zealand is a natural wonderland, though most tourists prefer to visit this country during the summer. You may be surprised to hear that New Zealand is a terrific destination for skiing and snowboarding, yet it still remains vastly underrated.
Here is your ultimate guide to skiing in New Zealand.
Note that many of New Zealand’s best ski resorts are located on the South Island. Rentalmoose recommends flying into either Queenstown or Christchurch. You can then pick your rental car up directly from the airport and drive up to the resorts! There are 34 of them in total, though these are the ones we consider to be must-visits.
The North Island is home to just two ski resorts. Both of them are situated on different sides of the same mountain. Nonetheless, they are certainly worth paying a visit!
Without further ado, let’s dive into the best ski resorts in this fascinating country!
The Best Ski Resorts in New Zealand’s South Island
Check out some of our favorite spots you need to visit when skiing in New Zealand! We’ve focused on the best alpine resorts located near Queenstown and Christchurch.
For maximum convenience, consider picking up your rental car directly after arriving in New Zealand. Don’t forget that airport pick-up usually means having to pay an extra premium location surcharge on top of your rental bill.
Day-pass- around $150 per adult, 50% reduction for children
Coronet Peak is easily the most popular ski resort around Queenstown, and it’s easy to see why.
As it’s the most famous alpine resort in the region, prepare to see lots of fellow riders. Especially during the peak season. If you’re looking for a serene spot, this is definitely not it.
Nonetheless, Coronet Peak is an absolute must on the itinerary of any skiing aficionado. The resort is made up of 3 different chairlifts and a variety of exciting trails to ride down. In addition, Coronet Peak is home to 2 restaurants, 2 bars, and a cafe to wind down after a joy-filled day.
What makes this alpine resort special is definitely its signature nighttime skiing sessions. That way, riders can enjoy the slopes even after the sun sets.
Those who are not in the mood for skiing can take the scenic gondola ride up to the summit and simply take in the jaw-dropping views. Coronet Peak overlooks one of the most breathtaking mountain ranges in this part of the planet.
Day-pass- around $150 per adult, 50% reduction for children
Cardrona Alpine Resort is one of the most popular ski resorts in New Zealand. Slopes are plentiful, for both beginners as well as experienced riders.
Cardrona features some of the best slopes in the country, paired with an unbeatable setting. Admire an impressive backdrop while riding down the tall mountain. After a day of skiing or snowboarding, you can unwind at one of 8 different cafes and restaurants within the resort.
Proximity to Queenstown is one of the main reasons why all ski lovers flock to Cardrona during the season. After all, the slopes are around an hour away from the heart of Queenstown. The nearest international airport is merely an hour away by car.
Rentalmoose insider tip: You can purchase a multi-day pass that can be used at both Cardrona and Treble Cone.
On the other hand, you should note that Cardrona can get rather crowded during peak tourist season. If you’re looking for a quiet ski slope with little to no tourists, this may not be the perfect pick for you.
Cardrona Alpine Resort in The Summer
If you’re planning to visit New Zealand outside of the skiing season, you should still consider driving up to Cardrona. This action-packed resort is the ideal year-round destination.
These are just some of the things you can do in Cardrona outside of the ski season:
Gondola ride up to the Cardrona Summit
Visit the iconic Bra Fence
Nearest airports- Queenstown Airport (NZQN)- 90-minute drive, Wanaka Airport (NZWF) is a 30-minute drive away
Day-pass- around $140 per adult, 50% reduction for children
Treble Cone is yet another famous ski resort near Queenstown. Unlike Cardrona, this alpine resort is not the best pick for beginners. If you’re an inexperienced skier or snowboarder, it’s probably best to skip Treble Cone.
Experienced ski and snowboard fanatics can enjoy the largest ski area on New Zealand’s South Island. In addition, the thrilling slopes get the highest amount of snow in the country!
Take a break from skiing and enjoy a meal with the view at the Allpress At Altitude bar. Alternatively, you could just grab a quick bite to eat from Grab & Go and directly head back on the slopes. The town of Wanaka is just a stone’s throw away from the ski resort.
Don’t forget that you can purchase a multi-day pass that can be used at both Treble Cone and Cardrona. Naturally, equipment rental is available directly at the resort.
Day-pass- around $140 per adult, 50% reduction for children
The Remarkables is the go-to alpine resort in New Zealand for beginners. This resort has earned its reputation as one of the best spots for travelers who are just starting out with winter sports. Oh, and it’s one of the top picks among snowboarders, as there are 7 parks filled with thrilling jumps and obstacles.
Riders can make the most out of the 7 different ski lifts and plenty of snowfall. It is recommended for first-timers to book guided lessons before hitting the slopes on their own.
The Remarkables- Ideal for Snowboarding
In addition to being a great spot for inexperienced skiers, the Remarkables is a top pick among hardcore snowboarders. Riders can choose from different parks, such as the Burton Stash which was designed by Jake Burton and Craig Kelly. It is one of just 6 parks designed by the legendary snowboarder, and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere!
This ski resort is easily accessible from the Queenstown Airport. In fact, it’s only a short 30-minute drive away. Remember to come prepared, as driving during the winter can turn out to be challenging.
Tow price- $85 per adult, 50% reduction for children
Craigieburn Valley- The Best Ski Resort for Experienced Skiers
Craigieburn may just be the most hardcore ski resort in all of New Zealand, not just the South Island. This alpine resort is infamous for having some of the craziest black runs in the country. If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly spot to ski, this is definitely not the right pick.
Certain about skiing in Craigieburn as a first-timer? Consider booking ski lessons before hitting the chutes on your own.
Skiers can make the best out of the three different ski lifts located within the resort. Then, make your way back down via the narrow chutes and steep slopes. Some of the trails are so crazy that even intermediate skiers may find them difficult.
As Craigieburn Valley is the opposite of beginner-friendly, you should not expect too many amenities. Unlike some of the other resorts on our list, Craigieburn only features one small cafe with panoramic views of the mountain range.
Day-pass- around $85 per adult, 50% reduction for children, kids under 11 ski for free
Broken River is the polar opposite of the hardcore Craigieburn Valley. In fact, this ski resort is one of the top picks among beginners and intermediate skiers, and snowboarders. What’s more, affordable prices and seasonal discounts for children all make Broken River one of the best family-friendly ski resorts in New Zealand.
Note that, much like Craigieburn Valley, Broken River does not have many amenities. You could grab a bite to eat at the local lodge, or book ski lessons directly at the resort. Don’t expect fancy cafes or crazy nightlife here, though.
Broken River is yet another ski resort in New Zealand’s South Island which is worth visiting year-round. During the summertime, travelers can hike around the wilderness or try out mountain biking. You can book one of the lodges and spend the night among breathtaking scenery, too.
Day-pass- around $80 per adult, 50% reduction for children
Mount Hutt is unarguably one of the best spots to go skiing in New Zealand. Don’t take our word for it, Mount Hutt even won the title as New Zealand’s best ski arena six years in a row!
Skiing down Mount Hutt is an absolute must-do experience. The views are out of this world, while the never-ending trails are nothing short of exciting.
Naturally, you would expect New Zealand’s best ski resort to have lots of amenities. You will find two restaurants to unwind after a day of skiing, two bars, a cafe, as well as equipment rental, and extensive skiing and snowboarding lessons.
If you’re not in the mood to ski, you could always simply take the sightseeing trip up to the summit of Mount Hutt via the chair lift. The views from the top are unbeatable.
Mount Lyford is one of the region’s best-kept secrets. This alpine resort is one of the most fun spots to go skiing in New Zealand. Surprisingly, it does not draw too many crowds either, even during peak ski season!
As Christchurch is nearly two hours away, many tourists choose other resorts that are easier to access. That way, Mt Lyford remains an exceptional alpine resort that’s quite underrated.
The trails at Mount Lyford as suitable for both advanced skiers as well as first-timers. Lessons are available, along with equipment rental. If you want to spend the night at Lyford, consider booking one of the cozy mountain huts.
After a day of skiing, travelers can unwind at the cafe or spend some relaxing time at the Terako Day Lodge.
The Best Ski Resorts in New Zealand- North Island
While the North Island does not have as many alpine resorts as the South, there are still plenty of spots worth visiting in the central part of the island. That said, travelers who wish to go skiing in New Zealand will probably have a better time down on the South Island.
You’re not spoilt for choice in this part of the country-the North Island is only home to 2 ski resorts! Nonetheless, both of them are worth visiting.
Whakapapa is undoubtedly the place to ski in the North Island. It’s the largest ski resort in New Zealand, and it sits atop the tallest mountain in this part of the country. What’s more, Whakapapa also features the largest beginner area in the country.
You may notice that Whakapapa looks strangely familiar. That’s because this resort was used as a filming location for one of the scenes in Lord Of The Rings! This in itself is already a great reason to pay Whakapapa a visit.
Don’t expect Whakapapa to be secluded. After all, New Zealand’s biggest ski resort does draw serious crowds, especially during peak season.
Skiers and snowboarders can make the most out of nearly 70 different trails at Whakapapa. Everyone will find a run suitable for their skill level here, no matter if you’re a first-timer or an expert.
Rentalmoose insider tip: Consider visiting Whakapapa on a weekday if you want to avoid the crowds. A weekday pass costs nearly half the price of a regular day pass.
Looking to do some sightseeing rather than winter sport? Don’t miss the Sky Waka, a breathtaking gondola right that will take you up to the Knoll Bridge Chalet, over 2 kilometers above sea level. From there, you can take in the panoramic views. Note that Sky Waka is open all year long, not just during the wintertime.
Turoa is a stone’s throw away from the previously mentioned Whakapapa. In fact, this ski resort sits on the other side of the same mountain, Mt Ruapehu. Two of the best ski resorts in this part of New Zealand are both situated on the same active stratovolcano, shall we say more?
On top of all this, Turoa also features the tallest vertical drop out of any ski resort in all of Australasia. It’s a whopping 722 meters!
Every skier and snowboarder is bound to have a good time at Tuora, no matter what their skill level is. This alpine resort features a selection of challenging trails, along with a large beginner area for those who want to try out skiing in New Zealand.
If you’re not in the mood to ski, you could always simply take the country’s most technologically-advanced gondola ride up to the summit. Then, you can take in the panoramic views atop New Zealand’s highest lifted point.
As great as Tuora is, no ski resort is perfect. There are limited lodging options here, despite having both fantastic nightlife and tasty places to eat. Travelers who wish to spend the night here may want to head over to Whakapapa instead.
Don’t forget to use Rentalmoose to find the best rental car deals for your New Zealand ski trip!
Post your pictures from skiing in New Zealand online using #Rentalmoose! Our favorite ones will be featured in our travel guides.
Get your car from Rentalmoose, we plant a tree for every booking made with our platform.