Ice skating was invented in Finland more than 3000 years ago, when a clever Finn had the crazy idea of strapping sharpened bones to his feet and sliding across a frozen pond. This primitive method was refined by the Dutch in the 13th or 14th Century when steel blades with sharpened edges were first used. English king James II discovered the sport on a visit to Holland in the 17thCentury and after introducing it to the British aristocracy, it quickly became a craze for Brits of all classes.
Ice skating arrived in New Zealand in the 1920s – our relatively mild and short winter making it a precious score for keen skaters chasing primo conditions.
New Zealand’s best known natural ice skating spot is Lake Lyndon, a glacial lake in the shadow of the Craigieburn, Torlesse and Big Ben ranges, in the middle of Porters Pass. The lake freezes every couple of years, and is an easy day trip from Christchurch. Check out some cool night skating footage on Lake Lyndon on YouTube.
Further south, near Wanaka, Diamond Lake is a popular spot for ice skating and the odd spot of ice hockey. You’ll find it about five minutes’ drive up the Treble Cone access road.
Another favourite for southern skaters is the Tekapo Springs Skating Rink. It’s part of the Tekapo Springs complex so you’ll need to pay for this one, but the bonus is they also have skates for hire so it’s a good option for the part-time ice skater. For details, check out their website.
Just five minutes’ walk from downtown Queenstown you’ll find the famous Queenstown Ice Arena, set amongst the beautiful Queenstown Gardens on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. The rink offers skate hire, lessons – including speed skating lessons if you’re ready to step it up a notch. You’ll find everything you need to know on their website.
If you’re pressed for time or just an incurable city slicker, don’t worry. You can try your hand at ice skating smack bang in the middle of New Zealand’s biggest city. The Aotea Square Ice Rink, on Auckland’s main drag Queen Street, is open until 11 August. With the opening of the rink Auckland joined the ranks of other great cities with an inner-city ice rink, like New York, London and Amsterdam. Awesome holiday fun! For session times and prices check out their website.
If you know of any others we’re keen to hear about them!