Ski New Zealand
New Zealand is one of the most popular places in the southern hemisphere for skiing and snowboarding. In addition to downhill (alpine), there is cross-country, ski touring and ski mountaineering.
Heli-skiing is another popular, though pricey, attraction. In winter, helicopters are used to lift skiers up to the top of long, isolated stretches of virgin snow.
Unlike Europe, America or even Australia, New Zealand?s commercial ski areas are generally not set up as resorts with chalets, lodges or hotels. Accommodation and apr?s-ski nightlife is usually in surrounding towns, and there are daily shuttles to/from the main ski areas.
Club ski areas are open to the public and are much less crowded than commercial ski fields. Although non-members pay a slightly higher rate, they are still usually a cheaper alternative. Many have lodges you can stay at, subject to availability. Winter holidays and weekends will be fully booked, but mid-week you?ll have no trouble.
The variety of resorts and conditions makes it difficult to rate the ski fields in any particular order. Some people like to be near the party scene of Queenstown, others prefer the high slopes and quality runs of Mt Hutt, the less crowded Rainbow Valley or the many club skiing areas. And for class NZ scenery, it?s hard to beat the volcanic slopes of Ruapehu.
At the major ski areas, lifts cost from $30 to $68 a day (roughly half for children and two-thirds for students). Lesson and lift packages are available at most resorts. All the usual equipment can be bought or hired in NZ; rental costs from $30 a day. Snowboard with boots hire starts at $45. These prices are lower if the hire is over a longer period. It makes sense to hire equipment close to where you?ll be skiing, so that you can return your gear if there?s a problem with the fit.
From Lonely Planet?s New Zealand
Paul Harding et al
Published September 2002
720 pp / 44 pp colour / 120 maps