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Snowshoeing is a great way to experience the New Zealand winter backcountry. You don’t have to be able to ski to get into winter adventure. Snowshoeing does not require special equipment beyond warm clothing and snowshoes that can be rented at many sports shops or through guided packages. Ski poles are helpful for balance but are not required.
You don’t need any previous experience; most people pick up the technique right away. After initially learning to not trip over their new XXX Large feet, most people are surprised at how easy it is. Snowshoeing is best on flat or gentle hills. In New Zealand where the mountains are mostly very steep, the mountains of Central Otago such as the Old Man Range near Alexandra or the Pisa Range in Wanaka offer gentle rolling hills perfect for snowshoeing.
Overnight tours are great for private groups or families. Huts (and for the more adventurous, snowcaving) offer the opportunity to experience living in a winter environment. Locations such as Black Peak Hut or Robrosa Hut near Wanaka offer the chance to access the huts with helicopter so that snowshoers of any ability can enjoy a night in the snowy wilderness. Whether it is hiking to a summit or simply enjoying an alpine sunset, it is a fantastic place to unwind.
Guided tours offer the opportunity to build and sleep a snowcave. Snowcaves are surprisingly warm and snug. With the help of a guide they can be built strong and safe. When built near a hut they offer the opportunity for some members of the group to sleep in the cave while others may choose to sleep in the hut. See Aspiring Guides in Wanaka for overnight snowshoeing options.
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