Friday, June 22nd, 2012
Skiing the Southern Hemisphere
Winter is here. It’s cold. You’re struggling to get out of bed. Your car windows are fogged up. Your cupboard is full of packet soups. And you’re complaining a bit more than usual.
There’s only one remedy for way you’re feeling… it’s time to shake off the winter blues, and embrace the seasonal change with a trip to the snow!
June marks the start of the Southern Hemisphere ski season, and sets Australian and New Zealand ski fields and resorts abuzz with powder hounds, socialites, families and novices.
Finding Your Feet
Most Australian and New Zealand ski resorts provide for first-timers and beginners with varied terrains, lessons and lifestyle facilities.
Located in New South Wales’ Kosciuszko National Park, Mount Selwyn is one of Australia’s most beginner-friendly parks, catering particularly for those new to snow sports with affordable Give it a Go packages. Nearby, Charlotte’s Pass also operates with learners in mind, offering group and private lessons, and a ladies’-only program, Think Pink Ladies Program. South of the boarder, Mount Buffalo asserts claim as Victoria’s most beginner-friendly ski park, featuring gentle slopes and fewer people than New South Wales’ big resorts.
Situated in the heart of the stunning Mackenzie country, Roundhill is one of New Zealand’s most popular novice ski fields, with a separate learners’ area that hosts a platter lift and two beginners’ rope tows.
All in the Family
In recent years resorts have turned their focus to families, boasting a number of quality ski schools, crèches and alternative snow activities.
New South Wales is home to two of Australia’s most family-friendly mountain peaks, Perisher and Thredbo. Perisher features the Milo Junior Ski School, where kids of all abilities can improve their technical skills; while Thredbo boasts a kids’-only entertainment and a terrain park called Thredboland. Further south in the Victoria, Falls Creek holds a perfect 10 rating for its child-friendly facilities, featuring a Kids Snowsports school in a separate terrain area.
New Zealand’s most family-friendly ski resorts are located within easy reach of Queenstown.Cardrona is arguably the country’s best kids’ park, with separate purpose-built areas for 3 to 5 years olds and 5 to 12 year olds. While iconic mountain range, The Remarkables allow kids under 10 years old to ski for free, and entertains teenagers with its Xbox Terrain Park.
Despite fostering an inviting come-one-come-all approach, many Australian and New Zealand resorts still place emphasis – and rest their creditability – on attracting professionals and snow-sports aficionados.
In Victoria, Lake Mountain is Australia’s premier (and one of the world’s busiest) cross-country ski resorts, home to 37 kilometres of cross-country trails, through 2400 hectares of alpine snow gum forest. Also in Victoria Mount Hotham is considered to be ‘the serious skier’s resort’ with 85 marked runs of true powder snow and challenging fall-line skiing.
Across the ditch, Snow Park NZ is fully dedicated to freestyle skiers and snowboarders. Treble Cone hosts some of the country’s longest and best runs. While Coronet Peak’s rollercoaster-like terrain is perfect for seasoned skiers.
A Night on the Piste
For some, a trip to the snow can be as much about après-ski, as it is about hitting the slopes. Humouring this attitude, a number of Australian ski resorts and New Zealand snow towns offer vibrant nightlife.
The closest of the big ski resorts to Melbourne, Mount Buller is arguable Australia’s most social ski resort, featuring a plethora of restaurants and pubs, and 7000 beds on the mountain. In New South Wales, Thredbo’s nightlife is unsurpassed, touting a number of bars, cafes and restaurants around Thredbo Village Square – which emulates European skiing towns with a town-like atmosphere.
Unlike other Australia’s snow hubs, New Zealand’s commercial ski areas are not generally set up as resorts with chalets, lodges or hotels. Most skiers commute to the slopes from nearby ski towns. The après-ski in Queenstown is the best New Zealand has to offer, boasting over one hundred licensed premises.
Australian parks, closest airports:
Charlotte’s Pass: Canberra (3 hours), Albury (4 hours), Sydney (6 hours)
Falls Creek: Albury (2 hours), Melbourne (5 hours)
Lake Mountain: Melbourne (2 hours)
Mount Buffalo: Albury (2.5 hours), Melbourne (4.5 hours)
Mount Buller: Albury (3 hours), Melbourne (3.5 hours)
Mount Hotham: Albury (2.5 hours), Melbourne (4.5 hours)
Mount Selwyn: Canberra (2.5 hours), Albury (3.5 hours), Sydney (5.5 hours)
Perisher: Canberra (2.5 hours), Albury (4 hours), Sydney (5.5 hours)
Thredbo: Canberra (2.5–3 hours), Albury (3.5 hours), Sydney (5.5–6 hours)
New Zealand parks, closest airports:
Cardrona: Queenstown (40 minutes)
Coronet Peak: Queenstown (20 minutes)
Roundhill: Queenstown (3 hours), Christchurch (3 hours)
Snow Park NZ: Queenstown (1 hour)
The Remarkables: Queenstown (40 minutes)
Treble Cone: Queenstown (1.5 hours)
Virgin Australia operates flights to: Albury direct, daily from Sydney; Canberra direct from most Australian capital cities and some major regional centres; Sydney and Melbourne from all Australian capital cities and most major regional centres; and Queenstown direct, daily from Brisbane and Sydney.
Our partner, Blue Holidays offers great Ski Queenstown holiday packages, from $884 per person.