Ski Australia & New Zealand
A family snow holiday is guaranteed to provide beautiful and lasting memories long after the snow has melted off your boots. But where should you go? Hereís Helen Hayesí guide to the best ski resorts in Australia and New Zealand.
There is nothing more satisfying than a family holiday at the snow; spending quality time together racing down runs, building snowmen, and hitting your parents (go kids!) with snowballs. The allure of the mountains is hard to resist Ė the fresh air, the stunning alpine scenery, the holiday vibe Ė and the fact that all that exercise ensures early nights for everyone... even the food seems to taste better.
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Donít miss: The flare run
Charlotte Pass is Australiaís highest resort at 1765 metres, meaning snow cover is always reliable and there is even more snowmaking available this season. Access is via snowcat and all accommodation is on snow, including the historic Kosciuszko Chalet. With excellent kidsí programmes and family-friendly events and activities throughout the season Ė such as Onesie Wednesday and the Kids Standard Race Ė Charlotte Pass is always a hit. Even better, kids four and under ski for free! Charlotte Pass has five lifts and two terrain parks with the Kosi Kids Club offering half- or full-day programmes for kids aged three to 12. Visit during the Winter Festival in August to see the flare runs and fireworks for extra fun.
Donít miss: The Subaru Australian Junior Freeride Championships in August 2016
Joining the Vail Resorts stable in 205, Perisher had an epic season last year and this season is expected to be just as good. Perisher has four linked resorts - Perisher, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow and Guthega - with 47 lifts, five terrain parks, plus a half pipe, mini pipe and two rider x courses. For mini-shredders, ski lessons are available from three years, snowboard lessons from seven years, and private snowboarding lessons from five years. There is an array of accommodation available on the snow or in the town of Jindabyne. Night skiing is on Tuesday and Saturday, and there are over 100 kilometres of cross-country trails.
Donít miss: Tubing and tobogganing
Family-owned Selwyn is an excellent starting point if you have never taken the family skiing or snowboarding before, with ten lifts, one terrain park, 45 hectares to play in and 88 per cent of the terrain designed for beginners and intermediate. Snow World looks after kids from 18 months to seven years, while Mini Mites offers snow activities for kids from 18 months to four years, Mighty Mites is a fun ski programme for kids three to four, and Mega Mites is for kids aged five to seven. Selwyn is a day resort with no accommodation, but there are plenty of family-friendly properties nearby.
Donít miss: The view from the Eagleís Nest restaurant at the top of the Kosciuszko Express
Thredbo is a favourite with many thanks to its village and plentiful accommodation. Itís also fantastic for children with Friday Flat being a lovely, safe learning area. Itís here you will find Thredboland with its fantastic programs for kids from 3yrs up Ė and if your little one is determined to snowboard the Burton Riglets program is for kids from 3yrs. For more advanced skiers and riders Thredbo has terrain to thrill with 14 lifts, four terrain parks and boasts the highest lifted point and the longest run in Australia to boot. There is also a huge indoor pool complex.
Donít miss: The Pete the Dragon Show, the Night Show Spectacular and the new app
Victoriaís biggest ski resort, Falls Creek, is a European style village with plenty of family-friendly accommodation and an endless wonderland to explore with 15 lifts, four terrain parks and 92 runs. The Kids Snowsports School is world-class with purpose-built beginner terrain and facilities for teaching kids of all ages, and the Burton Riglets programme will have little ones as young as three years learning to shred. Night skiing is on Wednesday and Saturday, plus you can take the kids snowmobiling, snowshoeing, snowbiking or roaring down the slopes on the new toboggan lane. First-time visitors to Falls can also enjoy a free mountain orientation tour.
Donít miss: The snow park in Dinner Plain and its tube park ski slope
Perched on top of a ridge, Hotham has spectacular views every direction you look. There are 13 lifts and the four terrain parks keep kids who love jumping off and sliding down obstacles more than happy. Kids can learn to ski and snowboard from three years at the fantastic Big D learning area or participate in Reach Your Peak and one-on-one Masterclass programmes. Harry the Snowdragonís show is a must for kids, on every Wednesday and Saturday from 4pm at the Big D. Hotham has invested $4.4 million in additional snowmaking, ensuring an extra blanket of snow this winter.
Lake Mountain Alpine Resort
Donít miss: The Australian Snowmanís Festival
Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is a renowned cross-country ski and snow play resort, and is only a two hour drive from Melbourne. For first timers, itís an excellent way of testing out the snow before committing to a holiday at one of the bigger downhill resorts. Lake Mountain has 37 kilometres of cross-country ski trails, three toboggan slopes, snowshoe trails, the Snowmanís Village and a flying fox. The Nordic Ski Centre has lessons for all levels from beginners up; the experience of sliding through the now gums and the beautifully prepared trails simply magical.
Mt Baw Baw
Donít miss: The Powder Pup Snow Shoe Tour (where you can take retired sled dogs for a walk!)
Mt Baw Baw, just 2.5 hours from Melbourne, will have you howling with joy with its two terrain parks, big air bag, seven lifts and 10 kilometres of cross-country trails. Accommodation is no more than 100 metres from the slopes and the ski school takes kids from six to 15 years, with snowboard lessons for kids eight to 15 years. Take your pick of snow sculpting, snow biking, the Frozen snow play park and laser show, or best of all, go dog sledding with The Howling Huskies Sled Dog tours through the stunning alpine scenery.
Donít miss: The Yeti snowshoe tour, dog sledding and the Gnome Roam
Buller is a rite of passage for many Melbourne families, with parents wanting to take their kids to the place where they learned to ski themselves. With 22 lifts, three terrain parks, slope-side accommodation and a host of great activities for families, it truly has something for everyone. The Ski and Snowboard School caters for kids three and older in the Magic Forest, seven to 14 years at Buller Kids and takes students from 15 to 18 years. From the tree runs off Wombat to the glorious views from The Summit, the terrain is magnificent. For something different, try your hand at Snowgaining Ė orienteering on snow Ė and see if your family can find all nine checkpoints!
Donít miss: Lunch at Hubers Hut (keep an eye out for Spike and Shred!)
Mt Hutt Ė named ĎNew Zealandís Best Ski Resortí in the 2015 World Ski Awards Ė delivers stunning views and terrain for all levels with four lifts, four terrain parks and a half-pipe. All accommodation is in Methven, a thriving ski town with family-friendly apartments, lodges and restaurants. For lessons, Skiwiland caters for kids from three months to five years, while Kea Club offers ski and snowboard lessons for kids five to 15 years. In school holidays, thereís also the three-day Kruiser Squad programme, a multi-day lesson. For first timers, look for the special lift and lesson packages and check out the Mt Hutt and Methvenís Kids4Free deal.
Cardrona Alpine Resort
Donít miss: The new three- and six-day Flexi Pass that allows you to ski at Cardrona and Treble Cone
With eight lifts, four terrain parks, two half pipes, a super pipe and Gravity X course, it would be easy to spend weeks at Cardrona. On snow accommodation is available; otherwise Wanaka is a 35 minute drive away. The ski and snowboard school is world-class, with a Ski Nursery for kids from three months, Ski Kindy for kids aged three to four years, and ski and snowboard lessons for kids from five years. A cafť at the bottom of the Valley View chair, a see-through tunnel on the magic carpet, and a beginner run - ĎA Real Journeyí Ė which at 4.5 km is New Zealandís longest, are all new this season.
Donít miss: The night skiing every Friday and Saturday night
The closest resort to picturesque Queenstown, Coronet Peak has eight lifts, two terrain parks and the facilities at the modern base building promise a seamless experience. The Big Easy has plenty of space for beginners to learn in a safe environment, with intermediate and advanced runs centred around the Greengates Express and Coronet Express. The Skiwiland Early Child Care has three levels of care for kids from three months to five years, while the Kea Club provides full- and half-day lessons for kids five to 15 and snowboard lessons from eight to 15 years. Kids six and under ski free every day.
Donít miss: The view from the Lookout.
This resort has recently completed a massive makeover with the new state-of-the-art base building opening last season and the Curvey Basin chair opening in 2014. Catch the Snowline bus and once on the mountain, enjoy the vast range of runs catering for all levels. There are seven lifts and three terrain parks Ė Beginners, Big and the Burton Stash. The beginnersí area at the base is served by two magic carpets, with kids able to progress to the runs off Alta. Intermediates head for Sugar Bowl while the advanced skiers and boarders love the many black runs off Shadow Basin. Kids six and under ski free every day.
Donít miss: Head up the Home Basin chair to the Altitude Espresso
The largest ski area in the South Island, Treble Cone has panoramic views over Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. There are four lifts and two terrain parks, including the Jazz Kids Terrain Trail. Lessons are available for kids from six to 15 years. First timers should look at the new Learn to Ski 1-2-FREE packages or try the two-hour Private Ski or Snowboard Lesson. Beginners love the Nice ĎN Easy Platter, while intermediates and experts will head for the Saddle Basin and Summit Slopes. Treble Cone has also invested in new PistenBully grooming machines.