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Anyone planning to head to New Zealand this summer??

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone,

I'm considering heading to New Zealand during our NA summer this year. I've been poking around this subject for some time now, but I'm at the point where I need to make a decision.

When is the time to go? And Where? I know the Canadian Ski Team does a lot of summer training there, so there must be some good skiing there somewhere. I honestly don't too much about skiing there, but I'm trying to do my research before I make any decisions. I'd like to teach/coach, and possibly work at a bar/restaurant, etc. I need a place to get reliable information, and any help would be great.


post #2 of 11
[Caveat: I am a Kiwi, and I ski a lot in NZ, but I have not skiied the South Island. Other Kiwi skiers will know more than I do about this topic, but this should get you going in any case.]

First things first, do not go to the North Island. There is skiing there, but it's not worth travelling that distance for.

In the South Island, there are two areas you should consider. The first is Queenstown. It's towards the bottom of the South Island, on Lake Wakatipu. It's a "resort town", and the skifields are from 1/2 to 1 hour away. The skifields are The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Treble Cone and Cardrona. As I hear it, Treble Cone is the most challenging.

Prices for everything in Queenstown, including accomodation, are pretty damn high these days. Accomodation can be hard to find if you're a "worker". Wanaka is a town about an hour from Queenstown, and Treble Cone and Cardrona are often skiied from there...you'll probably find that prices are cheaper in Wanaka. It's a growing destination town, so undoubtedly has less night-life than Queenstown.

The other skifield you might consider is Mt Hutt. It's about half way up the South Island, and Methven is the town that services it. It used to be a pretty sleepy little town but I'd expect that's changed by now. It won't be like Queenstown but it'll probably have some of everything you'd need, although as with Wanaka, after-ski jobs will probably be harder to find.

My advice to you is to go to Queenstown/Wanaka. Mt Hutt is very exposed and often has to close due to the wind -- its nickname here is Mt Shutt. The skifields around Queenstown have more settled weather.

Our ski season usually starts around the middle of July and goes until the end of October. You will see earlier start dates mentioned -- such as the "official" start to the ski season, Queen's Birthday weekend, the first weekend in June -- and it can happen, but something between mid June and mid July is more likely.

There is some snowmaking at the southern skifields, but I don't know how much and it won't be as much as North Americans are used to. We are much more dependent on natural snow. OTOH, at least some of the southern skifields are tussock under the snow and so it doesn't take much to get the season underway. There is no tree skiing in New Zealand, to my knowledge.

You need to bear in mind that NZ is a tiny place -- only 3.5 million Kiwis in total, contained in a country that's about 2/3 the size of California, with about 70% of the population in the North Island. Skiing is a growing sport here, but you will find it quieter than you're used to, almost for sure, both on the slopes and in the nearby towns. There is a smaller market for everything one can spend money on here, just because of the population, and that has an effect on the types and quantity of services and goods on offer. This may not bother you, but it will bother some folks, so you ought to be aware of it. Also bear in mind that our dollar exchanges to the USD at around 50c typically: i.e. it takes two of our dollars to get one USD.

HTH and I hope you have a great time down under! Many Europeans and North Americans come here to instruct during our ski season, and many come back year after year.
post #3 of 11
[ January 16, 2003, 11:48 PM: Message edited by: SkiAddict1 ]
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply Skiaddict1,

The information you've given me so far is very helpful. I don't mind at all that it might be "quieter" than I'm used to. I'm from the east coast of Canada, so I can't imagine it being too much "quieter" than it is around here. I'm looking forward to finding more about the area you mentioned. I've heard before that that was the area I should be headed to, now I at least know where to concentrate my research.

post #5 of 11
If they have a decent snow season, you will have the time of your life in NZ! Just don't expect to make any money while there. If you break even, (not including your airfare) you've done well!

I agree with much of what SA1 has said-. Queenstown is without a doubt the number 1 ski town in NZ, and the closest to anything you'd find here in NA. With the variety of nearby skifields, you shouldn't get bored in a season. And there are certainly better opportunites for evening work.

Don't rule out Mt Hutt, the skiing is good, and the town is still growing. There is much more to do there than there was even just a few years ago.

But I will disagree with SA1 regarding the North Island. Mt Ruapehu has the 2 largest skifields in NZ on it. Both are now owned by Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) and have an interchangable lift ticket. Yes, the weather can be hideous! Yes- it has minimal snow years. But so does the South Island.

But what those who have never skied the NI are missing is the skiing! Without a doubt, it has the TERRAIN! The SI can't even come close in that department! Chutes, wide open steeps, off piste, back country, etc. The SI WISHES it had the terrain the NI has.
The support town for Turoa(on the South side) is Ohakune. It has really developed over the past 20 years, into quite a nice little ski town.
The support villages for Whakapapa (on the North side), National Park and Taumaranui, are rather small, but filled with some of the coolest people you'll ever meet.

Don't pass it by- you'll regret it! I spent 11 seasons on that mtn, as head race coach and ski school manager. My position allowed me to ski just about every skifield in NZ. And I wouldn't give up the NI to go South for more than a visit!

Have a great time!


By the way- if you are planning on working, most of their hiring is done by the end of April. Most of the ski fields have on line job applications. Get 'em in soon!

[ January 16, 2003, 06:23 PM: Message edited by: vail snopro ]
post #6 of 11
Re Ruapehu: I can't disagree more with vail snopro. It is definitely NOT worth coming any distance to ski it. I've been a Ruapehu skier for 18 years and I go back every year (these days I live on the mountain for 10 weeks at a time). I love the place, it's in my blood, but I'm not blind to its faults. Yes there is some good terrain, but the snow and weather conditions suck when you're used to better.

Powderhoundin, unless you actually like Sierra Cement and shitty weather, don't bother with Ruapehu. We joke that on Ruapehu we get real good at skiing everything from blue ice through to crud...but never powder! Seriously, after a biggish dump we all go around all day not knowing what to do. We just don't get practice with powder except maybe a couple of days each season. The weather is too warm and wet -- that's what you get for being so close to a big ocean, being at ~ 37 deg latitude, and having the skiing top out at ~ 6,600 feet.

Ruapehu suffers greatly from being out in the middle of a great big plain, with essentially nothing else around that's that high. It acts like a magnet for clouds and wind -- we typically expect to get one third good days, one third closed days, and one third bad weather days on which the keen will ski. The South Island is chock full of mountains, and so the weather is much more settled. Also, being closer to Antarctica, the snow is much colder and drier. Queenstown is at ~ 45 deg.

Treble Cone has some good challenging terrain as I hear it. Definitely do not go to the North Island!

[Oh, BTW: yes, Ruapehu's two skifields are now on the same lift ticket, but there is essentially no transport between them and it is an hour's drive each way -- you can't ski between them unless you walk up and over the top, which is about a 2,000ft climb. Ohakune is a nice little ski town these days, but National Park doesn't even have a grocery store, let alone much of anything else, and Taumarunui is 40 minutes away from Ruapehu. Face it, vail snopro, you don't ski Ruapehu by choice.]
post #7 of 11
Ruapehu is like the game of golf. One good shot keeps bringing you back for more. I agree that it is the kind of place which gets under your skin, and you learn to love it.

But you must admit- when it's good, there is no place in NZ which can compare! I have admitted its weather is some of the worst in the world, but there is enough about the place which kept me coming back there for 11 seasons. And it sure as hell wasn't the money! I could have quite easily cashed it in and gone South, or to Aus, or just stayed home and had summer.

Some of the attraction was the team I worked with. Over 20 years, and alot of us still keep in touch. An international group, with a very high percentage of examiners, national d-team members from different countries, etc. What a group!

This past season was an anomaly. They had alot of snow, and really bad weather. Closed for 19 days in a row at one point this season. Usually, the seasons with the most snow, they have the best weather. I'll agree with you that in the 11 seasons, there were probably only that many actual powder days. But that isn't why you go there.

Anyone who can last several seasons there, will sure be able to ski a wide variety of conditions by the time they leave! And when its bad on one side, you can get to the other. Dave M (not the one of several posts), the GM, is trying to get the bus service between the two sides running a bit smoother. I have no doubt that one day things will run smoothly, offering a fantastic experience to those brave skiers willing to make the effort of getting there.

By the way- if you are so dissappointed with it, why haven't you been to the South Island yet? Saving Ruapehu for yourself?

post #8 of 11
snopro -- I'm not disappointed with Ruapehu, I've been in love with it since I was 3 years old, and have skiied it nearly every year for the past 18 years. But that doesn't mean I think it's worth travelling to from a 1/3 of the way around the world! I ski it because I live in Auckland and I'm too cheap to go south. Also because I belong to a ski club and it costs me next to nothing to live there! There's a BIG difference between going to it from Auckland, and going to it from North America!
post #9 of 11
Make sure you make it to Treble Cone, it is not to be missed. It can also have it's bad days, but has some amazing epic days by New Zealand standards. Is bigger and higher than the Queenstown resports of remarkables and Coronet Peak. Stay in Wanaka when you ski Treble Cone, not Queenstown. Wanaka has grown heaps over the last few years (not necessarily a good thing) so has a bit of night life to offer, and plenty of restaurants.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Julie, thanks for the reply..

At this point I've pretty much decided to try to live in Wanaka.. I'd like to get a job at Treble Cone, Cordrona, or one of the other resorts in the area. Any information I have found so far both on the net, and from people I've talked to say that Wanaka would be the place to be. Any further suggestions?

Thanks again,

post #11 of 11
I think you have made the right choice. Treble Cone is going to have a few management changes this season, all for the good. It has recently been sold and has been bought by local business persons (ski shop owners, motel owners, etc) and ski enthuisiasts (who have money). So I think that this would make it a good place to work as it is now being run by skiers again, plus it has the best terrain of all the commercial ski areas, and the best views.

The skifield link is

Wanaka is below the snow level (except for a couple of days a year), so whilst you are here you can still go mountain biking, kayaking, rock climbing, bungey jumping etc. Thats assuming you get some days off.

Wanaka link is


To get an idea of the wonderful scenery in the Wanaka/Queenstown region, check out
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