Gnomes Alpine Sports

Gnomes Alpine Sports Blister Gear Review


26 South Terrace, Darfield
Canterbury, New Zealand

Winter Hours:

7am – 6:30pm, 7 days a week

Tel: 03-318-8433



We stopped in at Gnomes Alpine Sports on our first trip to New Zealand in 2013, and we knew we’d be going back again when we returned to Canterbury last August.

Gnomes Alpine Sports Blister Gear Review
Gnomes Alpine Sports, Darfield, New Zealand

Gnomes has now mounted nearly a dozen of our review skis, fitted a number of boots for us, and moulded custom footbeds for a handful of our reviewers.

Gnomes is owned by Leith Rhodes and Alistair “Ally” Kerr, and they and their staff have a level of talent, expertise, and a friendly attitude that make it extremely easy to add Gnomes to our list of Blister Recommended Shops.

Also important: Leith and Ally are some of our favorite people. Fun, funny, and fun to ski with, these are really good people who are also very good at what they do.

Gnomes Alpine Sports, Blister Gear Review.
Skiing with Ally Kerr in Broken River, NZ.

History & Experience

Gnomes opened in 1983 in the town of Darfield in Canterbury, New Zealand, (40 minutes west of Christchurch) by Leith’s parents, Ian Rhodes and Jan Crossley. A second Gnomes rental outlet store was opened in 1999, just minutes from the Christchurch airport.

Leith and Ally have each worked in ski shops since they were kids, including the largest snowsports retailer in the UK, and have been fitting ski boots full time since 1999.

Finding the right pair of boots, skis, or gloves is not a black and white process, and Leith and Ally are committed to working with the unique needs of every customer, making sure they end up with the product that suits them best.

Walk into Gnomes and you’ll be asked where you typically ski and on what type of terrain, how you’d like to improve your skiing, what products you have experience with, what you’ve liked / disliked about those products, etc. – questions just like the ones we ask our readers before giving our own recommendations.

Gnomes Alpine Sports, Blister Gear Review.
Leith moulding a pair of custom footbeds for Jonathan Ellsworth, Blister’s Editor in Chief.

Custom Boot Fitting

Gnomes is outfitted with the tools and products that let Leith and Ally provide a very high level of boot fitting customization.

Central to Gnomes’ fitting process is a pressure analysis system that measures a skier’s stance & weight distribution, revealing underlying biomechanics and foot pressure points that need to be addressed in order to achieve an ideal fit.

Gnomes Alpine Sports, Blister Gear Review.
Jonathan Ellsworth on the Gnomes foot pressure analysis system.

The shop also stocks Sidas custom footbeds, ZipFit & Intuition aftermarket liners, and Booster straps to dial in the fit of each pair of boots they sell. And we can say from experience, backed by Gnomes’ full boot fitting guarantee, that you’ll end up in a great fitting, comfortable pair of boots.

Skis & Snowboards For Sale

Gnomes carries a full line of skis and boots from a number of major brands. Whether its lightweight touring gear you’re after of an on-piste carving ski, they’ll have something up your alley. And if Gnomes doesn’t carry just what you’re looking for in the store, they will be happy to call in an order for you (even for snowboard equipment, which they don’t stock in house)

Gnomes Alpine Sports, Darfield, New Zealand
Gnomes Alpine Sports, Darfield, New Zealand

Demos and Rentals

In addition to any ski from their rental fleet, you’re welcome to demo most any ski you see for sale on the wall at Gnomes. And if you pay to demo a ski that you then decide you’d like to buy, the price of the demo is discounted from the purchase price.

The shop also rents out snow chains & nutcrackers (tricky little devices you’ll need to ski most of the Canterbury club fields).

Outerwear & Accessories

Gnomes carries a full range of backcountry touring gear (packs, beacons, shovels, probes, skins), as well as goggles & helmets from Smith, Giro, and Von Zipper, outerwear from Marmot, Sessions, and Armada, and merino wool base layers from New Zealand’s own Mons Royale.

(If you’re not familiar with Mons, you probably should be; we love the stuff. Check out our reviews of the one-piece Monsie and Mid Hoodie.)

Tuning & Mounting

Gnomes’ staff have tuned and mounted close to a dozen of Blister’s test skis over our last two trips to New Zealand. There’s nothing they can’t handle on a tight schedule and we’ll continue to trust them with our tunes and mounts in the years to come.

Bottom Line

If you’re on your way to the Canterbury club fields, or even if you’re in the Christchurch area, make a point to stop in and say hi to Leith and Ally, and tell them we sent you.

Then let us know how it goes — your feedback is an important part of our review process to keep our shops list legit.

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