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Rainbow Ski Area is situated at the top of the South Island of New Zealand just off highway 63. It is about 1 hour 30 minutes drive from Nelson airport, 1 hour 20 minutes drive from Blenhiem, 1 hour 40 minutes from Picton and 1 hour 20 minutes drive from Murchison.

The ski area is serviced by St Arnaud Village which is on the edge of the Nelson Lakes National Park. The ski area is a 40 minute drive from St Arnaud along State Highway 63 (SH63), past the Top House corner.

From State Highway 63, turn onto Rainbow Valley Road (also known as Wairau-Hamner Springs Road). Turn right if coming from Nelson or St. Arnaud, turn left if coming from Blenheim. Drive along the 12km sealed road. The road passes through five fords before reaching the bottom-of-the-mountain car park at Six Mile Creek. The mountain road winds alongside Six Mile Creek through native beech forest and up towards the ski area above the tree line. Chains must be either fitted or carried by ALL vehicles once past the bottom car park. A shuttle service from the bottom car park is available for those traveling without chains. For more information on the shuttle click here

Rainbow Access Road

If you intend driving up the Rainbow Access Road it is MANDATORY  that you have a set of chains, from the bottom car-park onwards. Even on days where chains do not need to be fitted,  you MUST still carry a set of chains that will fit your vehicle. Conditions in this Alpine environment can and do change rapidly requiring that you fit chains to leave the mountain. For this reason chains must always be either carried or fitted to your vehicle. You will be turned away at the base of the mountain or at the top car park if it is discovered that you are not carrying chains. The shuttle service is a good regular service for customers who do not have chains for their vehicle.

No chains, No access, No exceptions!

Chain Hire Services 

Chain Hire is available from the following locations: 

  • St Arnaud -  Alpine Lodge- 03 5211869 
  • Blenheim - Mag and Turbo Blenheim - 27 Grove Road - (03) 579 1645 

Purchasing Chains

Chains can be purchased from the following retailers: 

  • Stirling Sports Motueka | 201 High Street, Motueka  (03) 528 9845
  • Repco Nelson, 49 Gloucester Street, Nelson  (03) 546 9992
  • Repco Richmond, 8 Gladstone Road, Richmond  (03) 543 9301 
  • Repco Motueka, 400 High Street, Motueka  (03) 528 1101 
  • Repco Blenheim, 32 Main Street, Blenheim  (03) 577 8141
  • Blenheim - Mag and Turbo Blenheim - 27 Grove Road  (03) 579 1645

Don't want to drive up with chains? - Check out the other transport options available to you.