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It’s not easy knowing what gear to bring for your first family ski holiday. Here are our top tips for essentials that won’t break the bank!

You’ve planned the trip, booked the flights and checked out the snow report…awesome! Your winter holiday is about to kick off. But if it’s your first time bringing the kids skiing, you might find it handy to have a list of all the gear they’re gonna need. Here’s our guide for equipment and essentials guaranteed to keep them (and you) happy!


Starting with the obvious, unless you’re planning on doing a Shane McConkey mogul run (google it) you’re gonna want warm, dry clothing for you and the kids. Getting the right ski clothes can be a daunting task: there’s tonnes of brands, sizes and styles to choose from. We’ll start with the essentials:

Speaking of falls, there’s nothing worse than putting your hands down on cold snow! A good pair of waterproof gloves or mittens are key to a happy kid on the slopes. We recommend mittens because they’re waaaay easier to put on tiny hands, and they’re a whole lot warmer! There’s a full range of adults and kids gloves in our on-mountain Retail Shop if you turn up to the mountain and realise you’ve left one glove back at your hotel…

Ski pants are thick, waterproof and durable, designed to be worn over thermal layers (we’ll get to those in a bit). They shouldn’t be too tight, as there’s going to be a layer or two underneath and a pair of thick, long ski socks. A lot of brands come with suspenders or a Velcro tightening system that you can use to adjust the waist (or simply use a trusty belt!). The best thing about buying ski gear? Baggy is always in style! Having a jacket and pants that are a couple of sizes big means they’ve got loads of room to move, add or remove layers and – best of all for parents – grow! Our friends at The North Face have an awesome selection of jackets and trousers that we really rate for both kids and adults.

Goggles and sunglasses are definitely essential. When the sun comes out, the reflection on the snow can create a glare that’s no fun! Goggles also keep the mountain breeze out of little eyes. Check out the legends at Dragon – they’ve got a full range of kids goggles too! 


When it comes to the varied NZ weather, layers are your best friend. Many people make the mistake of skiing with just one or two layers including their jacket, usually finding themselves too cold if they’re out of the sun and too hot once they start hitting some serious turns. Having three or four layers on means it’s way easier to adjust your temperature and add or remove layers as needed. This is great for kids, who usually want to take off or put on clothes every 10 minutes! Keeping them comfortable and happy means they’re not thinking about itches and focusing on all the fun! Think thin shirts, jumpers, zip up fleeces and jackets.

For their feet, one pair of long ski socks is perfect – ski boots are padded and lined and pretty warm. One area that can get a little cold is the face (even if it’s sunny). Cold mountain air is no fun on a little nose, so it’s a great idea to have neck and face warmers to help cover up.

Icebreaker is an epic Kiwi brand that makes great quality merino (that’s our famous sheep!) clothing. Their stuff is durable, warm, and tried and tested by pretty much every staff member at Cardrona (seriously). Head to the Retail Shop on the mountain to pick up some Icebreaker if you’re feeling a little chilly!

Our daily Snow Report gets updated just after 6am each day – leave the page bookmarked on your device & give it a check when you get up in the morning. It’ll tell you everything happening up on the mountain that day & what to expect weather-wise.

And finally… safety first!

You might think that helmets are only needed by super hardcore ski racers or park rats, but they’re pretty essential for everyone, regardless of ability. Learning to ski or snowboard, like all sports, has a bit of risk attached, and it’s a great idea to protect your kids’ heads from any bumps. Helmets are available to rent at Cardrona, but if you’re serious about skiing and planning more trips, then it’s a great idea to invest in a comfortable helmet.

Snacks: Almost as important as clothes!

Our ski school instructors love kids who don’t crash, in more ways than one! Sending kids off to a lesson armed with a couple of mini chocolate or muesli bars is a great way to ensure they stay happy. Most kids in lessons will get a ride on our Chondola, or take a break at Captain’s Café for some water, and these rest stops are a great moment for them to grab a snack and recharge. Even if they’re not in lessons, having something tasty on you for them to eat can be a great way to maintain family fun on the slopes. If you’re trying to convince a little one to come with you for one last run, a chocolate bar is the perfect bargaining tool!

Skis, snowboards, boots and poles!

We totally recommend for little ones to hire their gear on the mountain – we hear all the time stories of families who’ve bought their skis/boots at the start of the season, then when it comes time to shred the gear is all too small! If you rent up the hill you know you’ll get the right size. We also have performance upgrades if you’ve got a wee shredder who just wants to ride the big lines!

Bits and Pieces

Finally, there’s a load of little things that we’ve found useful over the years for kids on the snow, here’s a little breakdown:

  • Tissues are always an essential for cold noses
  • Sunscreen – it might be winter but the sun is still strong! Don’t get the infamous “goggle tan”!
  • Lip balm
  • Goggle bag or cloth to clean goggles

If you forget anything, at Cardrona we’ve got eight cafés & restaurants around the mountain to rest up, recharge and restock in, as well as the Retail Shop for extra layers or any clothing you’ve forgotten.

We can’t wait to see you & the kids up here soon!



About the Author

Phil Waddell

Digital Marketing

Phil is an Englishman of many talents - he's a great skier, has taught a lesson or 500 in his time, is the king of dad jokes, can park a car like a champion, and strings sentences together with finesse.