Skiing on the other side of the world is usually reserved for committed seasonnaires owing to the huge distance involved. However, both for the Club’s many members who live in Australia and New Zealand, and for the growing numbers who make the journey every year, skiing and riding this part of the world can be an incredible experience.

 

Australia

Getting There

The first challenge in planning any holiday Down Under is getting there. Flight times are long, at around 21hrs, but with the expansion of air travel via the Middle East to complement traditional routes via Southeast Asia, there are now more options than ever.

The best aiming points are going to be Melbourne and Sydney – whilst Canberra lies closer to the Snowy Mountains, it does not offer the same experience as either of Australia’s largest cities, which are better for exploring either side of your skiing time.

The Snowy Mountains lie on the New South Wales-Victoria state border, meaning they are equidistant from both Sydney and Melbourne. This doesn’t mean they are close, however! The ski resorts on the Victoria side are a good 6 hours by most means of transport – by car or a 3-4hr train to Albury or Wangaratta with a two-hour transfer. It is possible to fly to Albury, and then get into the hills via a 2hr transfer.

Getting to Australia’s biggest resorts, ThredboPerisher and , is slightly more challenging; most people prefer to drive, 6hrs from Sydney or Melbourne, or 2 1/2hrs from Canberra. Snowy Mountains Airport is close and served by flights from Sydney and Melbourne, with a relatively short transfer time of just over an hour. Public coaches are available from Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra.

 

Resorts & Terrain

Whilst the Snowy Mountains can struggle for snow in dry years, recent investments in snow cannons, as well as better infrastructure to open up the whole of the mountain, now provide for a much more consistent skiing experience all through the winter.

Resorts are more focused on the North American model, with a series of bases and lifts serving one or a couple of mountains, and a focus on tree skiing and bowls. The larger resorts – Thredbo, Perisher, Falls Creek and Mt. Hotham offer the best variety of terrain, combining long tree runs with plenty above the tree line, and great bowls to drop into with loads of gentle long blues to get you back into the village.

Terrain parks are very common, allowing freestyle skiers plenty of room to play around and have fun. For beginners, the influx of instructors from North America during the northern summer means good tuition, in a familiar language, is readily available.

 

Facilities and Infrastructure

Several Australian resorts have been bought recently by the mega-resorts of Vail or Aspen-Snowmass, providing an influx of investment to provide a reasonable source of summer income for these businesses. Similarly, domestic investment is growing, meaning there is a huge amount of money pouring into resorts Down Under.

This means that most major lifts at the large resorts are modern, fast 4- and 6-man lifts, with isolated surface lifts or 2-man chairs servicing only the farthest reaches of each resort. The exception to this is Perisher, , which, mostly owing to its huge scale and multiple peaks, still relies on 2-man chairs and surface lifts for its Mount Perisher area – don’t let this detract from the resort, however, with 7 peaks across four resort areas, accessibility to the best snow is not a problem!

All major resorts have good on-snow facilities, including several mountain restaurants and cafes, and several ski patrol huts to ensure excellent coverage. Base villages are comprehensive, with the “Ski Tube” linking Lake Crackenback on the valley floor with Perisher Resort itself, offering up greater accessibility to the small resort here or the nearby town of Jindabyne.

 

 

New Zealand

Getting There

Whilst New Zealand’s winter sport of choice is undoubtedly rugby, the quality of New Zealand’s skiing is not to be sniffed at. Most major resorts are located on South Island, close to the towns of Wanaka or Queenstown. Flying to New Zealand has the option of going either east from the UK, via the Middle East or Southeast Asia, or west, via the western seaboard of the USA and offering a great chance for a layover in Los Angeles and a second “mini-holiday” whilst you’re travelling.

New Zealand’s two biggest airports are Auckland, towards to the northern end of the North Island and where a majority of flights head to, or Christchurch, about a third of the way down South Island, but with only one major international route, via the Middle East, for travellers from Europe. Both offer domestic connections to Southern Lakes and New Zealand’s best ski areas through either Queenstown or Wanaka Airports. Christ

Driving to the mountains offers the chance to head through some stunning scenery through the hills and along the shore on the sparsely inhabited western coast. Coach transfers are available from all major South Island cities, including Invercargill, Dunedin and Christchurch.

Queenstown and Wanaka are New Zealand’s best outdoor cities, acting as hubs for all kinds of adventures through the Southern Lakes region and to places such as Milford Sound. Basing yourself in either of these towns opens your holiday up to experiences off the snow too!

Other resorts are available outside of the Queenstown/Wanaka area; Mt. Hutt lies further north, and is best accessed from Christchurch itself, although there is some distance between the two. Whakapapa and Turoa hug the side of the remote Mt Ruapehu volcano, in the middle of North Island, but can be difficult to get to from major population centres.

 

Resorts & Terrain

The terrain and “style” of resort is more akin to Scotland than anywhere else, with resort bases hugging hills high above the valley floor and well above the tree line. However, a higher elevation and colder overall conditions result in far better snow quality and surety, and much more skiable terrain than in the Grampians. On top of this, the scenery is spectacular, with incredible views across the mountains, valleys and lakes of the Southern Alps.

Coronet Peak and The Remarkables are situated close to Queenstown, with a regular shuttle bus linking both to the town centre. Wanaka acts as the gateway to Treble Cone, with Mount Hutt further north and accessed from the small town of Methven, about half an hour’s drive away.

All the resorts are characterised by their “corries” or bowls, which act to focus most of their runs, with several, including Mt. Hutt, Treble Cone and The Remarkables featuring back bowls for skiers looking for more extreme terrain. Terrain parks are common as well, and, similar to Australia, comprehensive ski schools in a very familiar language helps beginners skiers get off the ground.

 

Facilities and Infrastructure

Many New Zealand Resorts have been similarly bought by the mega-conglomerates of Aspen-Snowmass and Vail Resorts over the previous few years, meaning many resorts now feature modern, fast lifts. The relatively small size of the resorts means this modernisation is comprehensive, with only one surface lift on the main hill in all of the resorts previously mentioned. Less developed resorts, such as Mt. Cheeseman and Broken River, near Mt. Hutt, are still dominated by surface lifts, however.

If you plan on skiing the back bowls, be aware that several of them will require a hike back up the hill. This is especially true of Treble Cone, where the Motatapu Basin offers some of the most extreme skiing in New Zealand but requires a hike back to the Saddle Basin Quad lift, and The Remarkables, where the bowl accessed via Homeward Run and Outward Bound trails deposits you halfway down the road back to town! The southern face of Mt. Hutt will also require hopping back over the ridge to get into Muesli bowl and back to the Tower Triple Chair

The most modern infrastructure will be at the resort bases, with limited facilities available further up the hill. All major resorts have well developed bases, offering shops, restaurants, public facilities, parking and rental centres.