Hitting the ski slopes this winter – our top picks and tips
By Vayle Hammond
1. The Remarkables, NZ
A very scenic 40-minute drive from the heart of Queenstown, the Remarkables (or ‘Remarks’ as it’s known to locals) lives up to its name and is one of the most photographed mountain ranges in the world. Offering some of the best ski terrains in New Zealand and with an extensive and well set up learners’ area, it’s a great place to bring the family but also caters to more advanced skiers and boarders with freeride terrain and the Southern Hemisphere’s only Burton Stash – a signature terrain park packed with natural features.
2. Coronet Peak, NZ
Whether you’re into cruising or caning down the slopes, New Zealand’s first commercial ski area Coronet Peak guarantees a good time for snow lovers of any level. Featuring ‘roller coaster’ terrain, it’s also home to the ever-popular Night Ski – the mountain is lit up from 4-9 pm so that you can enjoy a different kind of après ski.
As the closest resort to Queenstown, it also tends to be the most popular, so if you want to beat the crowds, pick up a First Tracks Pass to gain exclusive access to the mountain from 8-9 am and get shredding with the sunrise as your backdrop.
3. Cardrona, NZ
The most family-friendly out of the NZ options, Cardrona is well set up with a ski kindy, kids club and ski and snowboard school to cater for future snow bunnies. It also has some of the most reliable snow conditions in the region, making it the perfect place to find the sometimes-elusive fluffy white snow. Despite its family focus, there’s still plenty on offer for the extreme among your ski party. It’s home to the NZ Park and Pipe Team and has four terrain parks, two half-pipes and a gravity-cross course. You can also purchase a multi-day lift pass to be used at neighbouring Treble Cone Ski Field if you’re staying for a while.
4. Treble Cone, NZ
As the largest ski area in the South Island with over 550 hectares of terrain, Treble Cone is known for its legendary off-piste and more challenging runs. With predominantly blue and black grade terrain, it’s perfect for intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders but also has the ‘Nice and Easy Platter’, to keep beginners entertained. Situated on the edge of Lake Wanaka, Treble Cone boasts some of the best mountain views, and with plenty of cafes on-site, it’s easy to find a spot to take in the spectacular scenery between runs.
If you’re ready to finally take a trip out of NZ, there’s plenty to choose from across the ditch in New South Wales.
5. Thredbo, NSW
One of Australia’s most popular ski spots, it’s also been crowned as Australia’s best for five years running in the prestigious World Ski Awards. As the home to the longest ski run in Australia – the Crackenback Supertrail, Thredbo also boasts a picturesque and vibrant village right at the base of the mountain – perfect for some après ski indulgence or a soothing dip in the Olympic-sized heated pool at the Thredbo Leisure Centre. This year (after a COVID-induced hiatus), Thredbo is bringing back a packed calendar of winter events to keep snow-goers entertained both on and off the mountain.
6. Perisher, NSW
Perisher is Australia’s largest ski resort (and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere) with four linked resorts – Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Guthega and Blue Cow – totalling seven peaks and a whopping 47 lifts. Best suited to intermediate skiers and boarders (with almost 70% of the trails catering to intermediates) plan to stay more than just a couple of days to explore the 1,200 hectares of mellow trails minus any repeated run déjà vu.
7. Charlotte Pass, NSW
Described as charming and intimate, Charlotte Pass is Australia’s highest resort at 1,765m, making it a fantastic spot to chase fresh powder. Best for families and beginner skiers, the alpine village is completely snowbound in winter (meaning it’s only accessible by over-snow transport), so you can expect a quieter, secluded experience minus the long lift lines and hustle. Accommodation-wise, the iconic Kosciuszko Chalet Hotel is the pick of the bunch. Built in 1930 and known as ‘The Grand Old Lady of the Mountains’, the hotel offers the ultimate ski-in ski-out experience and sweeping mountain and valley vistas from every room.
8.Selwyn Snow Resort, NSW
Nestled in the most northern part of the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, the Selwyn Snow Resort is set for a grand reopening for the 2022 snow season after severe bushfire damage closed the resort in 2020. It’s been extensively rebuilt with new facilities, services and upgrades which promise something for every skill level.
Selwyn Snow Resort also offers the best tobogganing experience in NSW for non-skiers and skiers alike, with the relocated and expanded Toboggan Park reopening this season.
How to make the most of your trip
With a few years away from the snow, we’re all raring to go but may have forgotten some of the little things that make a ski trip great:
- Don’t forget the sunscreen – make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen to keep your skin protected from the reflective rays and SPF lip balm to protect against chapping.
- Stock up on snacks – keep breakfast bars, chocolate, and other high energy snacks in your pocket to give you a boost when you need it.
- Invest in a helmet – whether you’re tackling a black run or are a complete beginner, a high-quality helmet can save your life if you have an unfortunate accident on the slopes.
- Stay hydrated – drinking plenty of water throughout the day is crucial to avoid dehydration. While you may not feel hot and sweaty, the low humidity and high altitude can make it easy to become dehydrated. Particularly if you’ve been indulging in a few après ski drinks.
- Layer up – wearing a base layer, mid-layer, and outer layer will help keep your body temperature just right as you head out for a day on the mountain.
- Plan to relax – there are a lot of muscles used in skiing and snowboarding that aren’t likely to be part of your usual daily activities, so make sure you include an element of downtime to relax and recover.
- Keep an eye on the weather – unfortunately, it’s not all bluebird days; the weather can change quickly on the mountain, so keep abreast of weather forecasts and advice from the resort staff. When driving, take particular care, as icy roads and visibility can be challenging.
Wherever you go, stay safe and enjoy the ride
Just being able to plan holidays once again is exciting, so whether you’re travelling domestically or across the ditch, make the most of it, support local businesses and have fun!