Southern Hemisphere Skiing
Wild mountain ranges, new cultures and deep powder. Head south of the equator during the summer to experience winter on the other side of the world.
Unlike many European resorts, winter season in the southern hemisphere begins in early June and ends in October, though this varies considerably from resort to resort. There are ski resorts in Chile, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, many of these being world-class operations that attract a mix of local skiers and international visitors. You can find information on more southern hemisphere skiing and snowboarding in our resort guides, however here are a few of the highlights.
Skiing in Chile can be a rewarding experience, with unique volcanic mountainscapes and a different ski culture to that found in Europe. The main resorts are within two hours of the capital, Santiago, which means that Chilean resorts have the shortest travel time from the UK. Portillo, situated on spectacular pass between Argentina and Chile, is used by many national alpine teams for training, with a mix of mellow intermediate terrain, technical steeps and couloirs. Closer to Santiago, Valle Nevado is the most well-known of the Three Valleys resorts, along with El Colorado and La Parva. While the lift-accessed terrain won't thrill expert skiers, the area has a great snow record and is well placed for accessing some exciting backcountry terrain.
Further south, the likes of Nevados de Chillan and Antillanca offer spectacular volcanic scenery, some great tree skiing (you won't find this in the resorts further north) and in the case of the former, excellent thermal spas.
As with Chile, expect to see some spectacular scenery when skiing or snowboarding in Argentina. Las Leñas is the furthest north of the Argentinean resorts, and has a reputation among freeskiers for its deep Andean powder, vertiginous steeps and temperamental lifts (specifically the TS Marte chairlift). Much further south, Cerro Catedral and Chapelco both offer a good mix of terrain and despite lower elevation than other South American resorts, they can still receive huge snowfalls. Away from the snow, Argentina is also known as for being a value destination, where enormous steaks and delicious red wine cost a fraction of what they do in Europe.
Australian resorts are relatively unknown among Brits, even though the skiing has a long history in the country. Resorts with the most developed infrastructure are found on either side of the New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria state boundary. There is on snow accommodation at most resorts, and weekends see numbers swell with visitors from Melbourne and Sydney.
Perisher, the largest ski resort in Australia, has extensive snowmaking facilities, as does Thredbo. Located in the province of Victoria, and at slightly lower elevations than the NSW resorts, Mount Buller, Falls Creek and Mount Hotham are the most popular areas. The high price of lift tickets and expenses, paired with a strong currency in recent years, has led to many Australians heading to New Zealand for their ski holiday.
New Zealand, hosting a mix of ski resorts from small club operations to large commercial ventures, is a popular choice among British seasonnaires and those embarking on gap-years. Many resorts run instructor training programmes leading to internationally recognised qualifications, including BASI, and the ski towns of Wanaka and Queenstown have a fantastic atmosphere.
There is some superb off piste terrain on offer on the South Island of New Zealand, at the remote (and at times rustic) club 'fields', as well as at larger and better known areas such as The Remarkables and Treble Cone. Turoa and Whakapapa are the two main resorts on the North Island, and while the weather can be unpredictable, the volcanic landscapes are spectacular.
For the latest southern hemisphere conditions, check out the snow overview and our summer snow reports.