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FLY SOUTH FOR SUMMER - Katie Bamber, Senior News Reporter
Wednesday May 30, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Have you considered skiing during our summer and skipping down to the Southern Hemisphere? Here's where, when and why you should...

Having you considered skiing the other side of the year? Somewhere exotic, our kind of exotic.

Ski speaking, that's Australia and New Zealand or Argentina and Chile for us.

If Austria is known for its hospitality and fun traditions, Italy for food and being massively underskied, Switzerland for its class and scenery, and France for fondue and its love of Brits, what are the Southern Hem's ski countries and their resorts known for?

First of all, which countries have skiable mountains?

Australia and New Zealand both have keen skiers and riders, the great outdoors and people who'll travel to get to the best snow.

We have a full report on the resorts  in Australia and New Zealand later in this article.

Then there's landscape...

Base Backpackers imageMount Cook and Lake Pukaki, Base Backpackers image

As a sweeping generalisation, the resorts Down Under are a little smaller and more 'rustic' than the glitz and glam of many through the European Alps.

The lift systems are basic but (it's worth mentioning twice) what these places lack in fancy infrastructure, they make up for in scenery and terrain. 

There's huge opportunity for adventure, less tracks are beaten and you can really earn your turns; basically backcountry skiing is a big YES.

Treble Cone NZTreble Cone NZ

Then there's South America and here is a related PlanetSKI feature on skiing in South America.

Argentina, Chile for skiing. Now that's seriously changing it up.

The culture, the experience, the vistas and the sport; skiing the Andes really should top every bucket list.

Snow can be inconsistent, but where isn't, and the resorts are spread out far and few between down the Andes making each special and an ultimate destination.

Bariloche, Patagonia - Austin Chow PhotographyBariloche, Patagonia - Austin Chow Photography

Let's start with the first to kick off skiing for Winter 2018:


Many resort are clustered together in New Zealand, around a main city and in close driving distance, giving a trip out there to take in a handful as well as city life an even bigger appeal.

There's skiing on both islands, though South Island has the main resorts to head to, getting slightly colder weather.

South Island

Ski areas not far apart at all, an hour from Queens

Wanaka resorts: Cardrona, Treble Cone, Snow Farm

The town of Lake Wanaka is an attraction in itself. Tranquil, chic and modern, it has both high end B&B accommodation and backpacker lodgin, with trendy cafes with a ski town feel.

The lake and local wineries offer great off-mountain activities.

Then again, the heli skiing companies based here and the stella scenery might draw you up higher again.

Cardrona is a firm favourite for many, is rare for the reorts there in that it has on-mountain accommodation and even has its own whisky distillery.

Consensus is in, it's main draw is the friendly atmosphere, but also considered a resort for all with its numerous bowls and much of the skiing above the tree line.

Treble Cone is said to receive the most snow in NZ. It's also the biggest resort on South Island and owns the biggest vertical to ski at 700m.

A resort for experienced skiers with 45% of the runs marked advanced (and those blacks are known to be more challenging than the average New Zealand black diamond).

Treble Cone has prepped 10% of its runs for beginners, which can be enough when starting out, and at a nod to this uneven proportioning doesn't charge for use of the beginner's area and lifts and offers 'first-timer' low-cost ski packages forr learners.


Not far from Wanaka are the...

Queenstown resorts: Coronet Peak, The Remarkables

Coronet Peak

New Zealand's most popular resort and a mere 20 minutes from Queenstown.

Night skiing on weekends is a great perk.

Apres ski, the eating scene, the top snow making facilities to give the ski area a little nudge at low points of the season all help make Coronet a main attraction and central hub in New Zealand's adventure capital.

Coronet PeakCoronet Peak

The Remarkables

A small mountain resort with 4 chairlifts (updated ones)in, you got it, The Remarkables mountain range.

And under the jagged peaks you ski, down in the valley sits Lake Wakatipu.

Picturesque is an understatement and, even better, it's just a 37-minute drive from Queenstown.

Sun, bowls to ski and a favourite for families.

It's also recommended for freestyle - good idea to get good parks in for a small one so close to the city, and one popular with kiddos.

The RemarkablesThe Remarkables

Christchurch resorts:

The big resort up here is Mt Hutt. There are half a dozen or so smaller ski fields, but Mt Hutt is the only one with chairlifts.

The others have a mix of T-bars, Pomas and rope tows.

Temple Basin, Craigieburn Valley, Broken River and Mount Olympus, all two hours (and a little more) from Christchurch all use rope tows exclusively, but on the plus side kid ski free at nearly all these.

Mt Hutt

High and wide, is how it's known.

Overlooking the Canterbury plains the resort boasts steep black diamond pistes and wide open terrain.

Adventurous skiers head to  "The Towers" rock formations at the top of the field, and the South Face.

New Zealand with its jagged peaks is good for such descents.

Mt Hutt rises up to 2,190m and on a good day you see can way over to NZ's tallest mountain, Mount Cook.

Open and high - great for good days - but skifield is often called 'Mt Shut', as it's prone to close during bad weather...

Kids under 10 ski for free, and on mountain entertainment includes the Corona Ice Bar, coffee house and the Sky High cafe, a well as Huber's Hut to explore.

It's a 90-minute drive from Christchurch, though the road up the hill on a snowy am can be hairy. Many stay in nearby town Methven - 30 minutes driving form the mountain - or in the bigger town of Ashburton an hour's drive away.

Mt HuttMt Hutt

Hanmer Spring, Mt Lyford are small fields north of Canterbury and Christchurch, then back south towards bigger names:

Fox Peak, Mount Dobson and Roundhill are smaller ones towards the highest peak in NZ, Mt Cook.

Mount Dobson is a popular choice known for its smooth powder.

The resort looks over Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki, and across the water to Mt Cook and Mt Tasman.

Mt DobsonMt Dobson

Canterbury resorts: Mt Dobson, Porters, Ohau, Mt Cheeseman, Fox Peak

Ohau is a name that come up among New Zealand ski fans in the know for being a good freeride mountain.

It's a family run resort and you'll get your own lines and space here alright.


North Island

Skiing is centred around Mt Ruapehu, an active volcanco.

The resorts: Whakapapa, Turoa, Manganui, Mt Taranaki, Tukino

Here started the season in the Southern Hemisphere today - Friday 1st June, 2018 - with the Happy Valley lower area open.

See more of the superbe snow and conditions here:

Mt Ruapehu dramaticsMt Ruapehu dramatics

And across the ditch...


Steep, deep and cheap are not things related with Australia's ski scene.

BUT, this doesn't take away from the complete novelty of skiing somewhere this wild.

And who needs to compare powder and terrain when we're talking completely different countries and continents.

Skiing in Australia has its own draws and I'll bet nobody'd turn down the chance to ride the hills of 'straya.

Head to Australia's ski resorts in July and August when the snow will be best - June and September can be a little sketchy.

The mountains in Aus are hella old and have eroded into softer curvers.

There aren't the jagged peaks of NZ, nor the vertical or steeps we ski in the Alps, Rockies or Andes.

Be careful of those extra charges like resort entry fees or whopping car-parking costs... On the plus side the money must go towards the good snow-making facilities and upkeep for the base lodges and towards its ski villages, which are generally better for than in NZ (in that they exist) and create more of a ski buzz for your holiday.

New South Wales resorts:

Thredbo is the cool place to ski in Australia. There's music, lively apres and friendly party people.

It also boasts the longest vertical descent at nearly 700m.

There's a good mix of pistes for all levels of rider, though probably best lauded for its cruisey blues. Off piste skiers head to Gold Course Bowl for their lines.

If you're willing to put in the uphill slog there is a lot to get out of exploring the Aussia backcountry around Thredbo.

Bars and restaurants create a lively ski-town scene and it's a good all round resort in Australia.

ThredboThredbo, Australia

Victoria resorts: Mt Buller, Falls Creek, Hotham

Mount Buller is the Melbourne hangout, an easy 3 hours away.

The weekend warriors mean it gets busy, but always a good vibe there.

It's a ski-and-be-seen kinda place - ain't nothin' wrong with that and some of the best places out there are a blend of city-chic and mountain-cool.

It's praised for its lift infrastructure and snowmaking, and on top of the largest ski village of the Australian resorts, make it a good option whilst there.

Falls Creek

Falls Creek has a great base village. It's car free, charming and is full of shops, bars and restaurants.

The good number of gentle slopes, kids activities and events that are put on mean families love it here.

A solid groomer resort, it's ideal for intermediates.

In the backcountry, Mt McKay's steeper steeps and chutes offer some play for expert riders.

Falls CreekGum Trees of Aus, Falls Creek

Mt Hotham

Hotham is interesting in its geographical set up.

A very old, eroded mountain means the top has flattened, and this is where you'll find the beginner's area.

The steeper slopes are down into the valleys (with a 400m descent down to 1,450m) setting off from the main village, which sits at 1,750m.

Down Under, Hotham is known as a 'serious skier's mountain'.

It has the best expert terrain on the continent with the most black runs in the country. And then there's the off piste...

Head to the in-bounds (off-piste skiing made safe) Heavenly Valley to ride some gullies when the snow's good as when it's on, it's on here.

Or (only if you are one) to Extreme Zone for more challenging descents with rocks, trees 'n more obstacles.

Though there's a few beds high up in the village, Dinner Plain - a farming village turned quiet ski town - is where you'll find more affordable food, drink and places to sleep.

Hotham VillageHotham Village

So, winter birds, whether you're a beginner looking to start of your love of skiing (we promise it will be...) with a bang or an expert wanting to mix it up and change the way you ski and see the mountains, we hope this has been of use.

Hit us back up on our social media for more questions, queries, updates and opinions of Southern Hemisphere - we're always looking to understand the mountains deeper.

And 'til it all starts down there we'll flood our site and pages with pictures of the snow (as it's looking oh-so sweet right now) and keep you informed here.

Coronet PeakCoronet Peak before it all kicks off

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number 1 for ski news

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