As Australian skiers and their families weigh up the pros and cons of skiing at home or taking a trip to New Zealand, here’s the Top Ten reasons to consider taking a winter holiday ‘across the ditch’.
A report commissioned by the Ski Tourism Marketing Network and carried out by Sweeney Research has found that New Zealand’s natural beauty, hospitable locals, family friendly environment, adventure activities and its reputation as a safe and close destination all add up to good reasons to travel for the snow.
With that in mind, here’s a list of Top Ten reasons to enjoy a South Island winter holiday and ski areas Mt Hutt, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables:
> It’s really beautiful. Snow-capped mountains, glaciers and lakes and character-filled towns all make for a big wow factor.
> It’s so easy and so fast to get there. Direct flights mean travel time’s cut and you get the best value from a long weekend or a ten-day winter holiday. Around 50 trans-Tasman flights drop into Queenstown every week during winter, and Christchurch Airport (just a 90 min scenic drive to Mt Hutt) has more flights from Australia than any other South Island airport
> The locals are friendly and they talk the same language. Kind of.
> School holiday programmes on all three mountains. Oh yes – you can enroll little Johnny into three or five-day programmes that make learning fun and give Mum and Dad the time to explore the slopes in peace and quiet or chill out on the deck. Littles from three months to five years can be booked into Skiwiland childcare programmes with qualified staff.
In Queenstown look out for:
> Night skiing at Coronet Peak on Fri and Sat nights – especially this year with a much larger night ski area, some freestyle features, an airbag for aerial trick practice (best fun ever!) and a whole new ‘Park After Dark’ vibe (think music, lights, beers and pizza on the deck).
> The Remarkables has got a brand new, big and shiny lift. Get up the Curvey Basin high-speed six-seater to claim boasting rights on new runs and the best views of the Southern Alps. They’ve sealed some of the road too with plans to seal it all the way to the top.
> Legendary Ice Bars offer seriously chill out times and they’re the perfect place to socialise on the snow in between runs. The one at The Remarkables has a whole new view ‘cos they’ve moved it up the mountain on the Curvey Basin trail. Check out the primo mulled wine and hot snacks at the Greengates Ice Bar at Coronet (a natural suntrap if ever there was one).
> Queenstown’s ablaze with outdoor fireplaces, indoor fireplaces, wood-fire pizza ovens, and even a restaurant with an opening roof (pretty cool when it’s snowing). More bars, restaurants, cafes and clubs than you can shake a stick at. On a non-snow day, adventure activity options are endless.
In Methven don’t miss:
ü Free kids deals – the cute little ski village of Methven caters for families (Aussies included) with the Kids4Free promo (www.kids4free.co.nz) where Mt Hutt offers free lift passes for kids 10 and under, and Methven comes to the party with free food, activity and accommodation options. Great overall accommodation deals from really good backpacker rooms with cosy communal lounges and kitchens to value-for-money apartments (great for families or groups). Check it out at here.
ü Après ski, Kiwi-style. Head to the Blue or the Brown (the Blue Pub and the Brown Pub are directly opposite one another) for a beer, pub grub, a game of pool and a yarn with the locals. Doesn’t get more ‘real’ than that.