The snow report: our top 12 destinations
With nearly 40 snow fields spread across Australia and New Zealand choosing a ski destination this season is no easy feat. Here's Jetstar's guide to 12 of the best snow holidays.
- July 2018
A beautiful village and plenty of beginner and intermediate terrain ensure that Falls Creek remains a family favourite.
New & Noteworthy A AUD $9 million high-speed quaddetachable chairlift has replaced the Eagle triple chair.
Eating & Drinking The Frying Pan Inn and Cloud 9 have received renovated interiors and rejuvenated new menus (including woodfired pizzas); Dicky Knees has transformed into a taqueria (serving Mexican fare); and Astra Lodge continues to offer fine alpine dining (and accommodation).
Stay For cosy mid-range accommodation with an open fire try Nelse Alpine Lodge; QT has groovy hotel digs with verandah spas.
Oh, So Good Feel like a rock star and take a scenic ride high over the Victorian Alps with Forest Air Helicopters.
Mount Buller, about three hours drive from Melbourne, is one of Australia’s most popular resorts. There’s terrain for all comers, and a vibrant village.
New & Noteworthy Buller Ski Lifts has unveiled its SnowSat system – the first in Australia. SnowSat links state-of-the-art piste grooming machines to IT systems, making for immaculately smooth and infinitely skiable slopes.
Eating & Drinking Breathtaker Hotel and Spa has introduced Spanish/ Moroccan sharing plates at its already popular Signature Restaurant; ski-in and ski-out for delicious lunches at Koflers Hutte (tip: try the apricot mogul cake) and Tirol Café.
Stay The eight-person timber chalet Burnt Hut is like something from a glossy home magazine; Austrianstyle Pension Grimus has apartments in a great position; and economical accommodation, with homecooked meals, is available at Coonamar Ski Club.
Oh, So Good Mount Buller’s new pond skim event promises to make a big splash on 22 September as contestants dress up and ski/ snowboard across the water for cash and glory.
Mount Hotham is renowned for its tougher runs. Nearby Dinner Plain, a town of timber houses and chalets, provides an attractive alternative to staying right in the main ski village and is popular with families.
New & Noteworthy Miss Mary’s restaurant has opened at Hotham Central, offering cocktails and Asian-fusion cuisine.
Eating & Drinking Zirky’s is a quality stalwart of Hotham’s dining scene; The Bird Café has no-frills but good food, craft beer and live music during après-ski hours; Dinner Plain’s Blizzard Brewery is the highest brewhouse in Australia and has gathered a strong following since opening a few seasons ago.
Stay The three-storey Cobungra Chalet sleeps 12 and has ski-in/ski-out access, as well as a private sauna; the Snowbird Inn, home of the Bird Café, has affordable rooms.
Oh, So Good Relax at Dinner Plain’s Japanese-inspired Onsen Retreat + Spa.
New South Wales
Thredbo won the title of best Australian ski resort at the 2017 World Ski Awards and it’s no wonder, given its all-round terrain and excellent village facilities.
New & Noteworthy Snowmaking has been added to the Cruiser Terrain Park, while summer works in the Central Spur area have improved traffic flow between the two main resort areas.
Eating & Drinking Try the Franco-Italian fare at Australia’s highest restaurant, the casual Eagles Nest; Kareela Hutte for its famous Kareela De Burger and the great views; and the Thredbo Burger Bar for its menu of 15 mouth-watering burgers.
Stay The 65-room Thredbo Alpine Hotel is a resort icon and centrally located; the five-star Rockpool Lodge offers two bedrooms plus a loft and lounge with a big fireplace.
Oh, So Good The resort has a packed après-ski program this year, including free outdoor music.
Perisher is an amalgamation of four resorts: Perisher Valley, Guthega, Blue Cow and Smiggin Holes. It has more than 100 groomed runs and 1245 hectares of terrain.
New & Noteworthy The resort has announced a new AUD $4.2 million quad chairlift to replace the Leichhardt T-bar next year. This season, Perisher has spent AUD $400,000 on snowmaking improvements and added a new snow-grooming machine to its fleet.
Eating & Drinking Snow Gums restaurant at the Perisher Valley Hotel has an open fire and serves local produce; the High Ground Coffee Bar opened last year and already has a reputation for good coffee and food.
Stay The Perisher Valley Hotel is in the heart of the resort and offers boutique luxury; The Station is an affordable off-mountain option.
Oh, So Good Set the alarm for the resort’s First Tracks program from 29 July to 9 September.
This snowfield was voted NZ’s best ski resort for the third year in a row at the 2017 World Ski Awards. It’s an easy 90-minute drive from Christchurch, with accommodation in the small town of Methven.
New & Noteworthy There have been renovations to the Sky High Café as well as road improvements.
Eating & Drinking Methven’s iconic Blue Pub is in the centre of town, serving up hotel fare, live music and a good vibe; there’s also the Brown Pub, a 2016 finalist in the national Hospitality Awards. Down the road, Ski Time is another popular venue, with an open fire and great local dishes such as beetroot marinated salmon.
Stay The Blue Pub and The Brown Pub have affordable rooms; Ski Time also has accommodation, ranging from no-frills lodge rooms to apartments. All three are members of the Kids4Free initiative in Methven, allowing kids aged 10 and under to stay at no cost.
Oh, So Good Experts should head to the Virgin Mile for black chutes, ending in the Rakaia Saddle run. Strike it on a powder day and you’ll hardly notice the magnificent views over the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific Ocean.
The Remarkables & Coronet Peak
These two South Island ski fields, suitable for all levels, are the best bet for those based in Queenstown – a lakeside town with abundant places to eat, drink, shop and stay, as well as a raft of adventure activities such as bungy jumping. Shuttles run from town to snow – it’s 20 minutes to Coronet Peak and 40 minutes to The Remarkables.
New & Noteworthy Big improvements have been made at both mountains, with more beginner terrain (70 per cent at The Remarkables), reconfigured novice slopes and new conveyor (carpet) lifts.
Eating & Drinking Take in panoramic views with lunch at Heidi’s Hut on Coronet Peak; wrap your mitts around a Fergburger in Queenstown, renowned as one of the world’s best burgers; try the newish Yonder Café, fast becoming ‘the’ place in Queenstown.
Stay Queenstown has a new QT Hotel; Eichardt’s Private Hotel lays claims to the best boutique property in town; and there are lots of choices for backpackers, including Bumbles Backpackers.
Oh, So Good Queenstown’s adrenaline activities include bungy jumping, white-water rafting (yes, even in winter), jet boating and mountain biking.
Cardrona & Treble Cone
These two snowfields are close to Wanaka, another pretty lakeside town. Cardrona is an intermediate skiers’ delight. Treble Cone, celebrating its 50th anniversary this winter, has some of NZ’s most challenging lift-accessible terrain.
New & Noteworthy Treble Cone has introduced a free return bus service from Wanaka for those who book lift passes, lessons or other packages. Group lessons have been capped at five people, and a 90-minute snowshoe experience has started. Cardrona is spending NZD $20 million on improvements over several years. Last year it was a new lift and snowmaking, this year there are café refurbishments and more snowmaking. There’s talk of another lift in 2019 for advanced skiers and boarders.
Eating & Drinking The food trucks at Wanaka’s Brownston Street provide quick options from burritos to dumplings; there are two new brewhouses, the Ground Up Cellar Door, and Rhyme and Reason on Gordon Road; Kika’s Italian menu is one not to miss.
Stay The Wanaka Hotel is central and affordable; Release Wanaka has a range of luxury homes.
Oh, So Good Wanaka’s quirky Cinema Paradiso has seating in a Morris Minor car and on old sofas.
Whakapapa & Turoa
These sister resorts are on opposite flanks of Mount Ruapehu, an active volcano. Whakapapa is NZ’s largest ski area and T¯uroa is its highest, with extensive terrain parks. Much of the accommodation is in the town of Ohakune.
New & Noteworthy Whakapapa’s Far West T-bar has had a NZD $1.3 million upgrade.
Eating & Drinking Knoll Ridge Café, NZ’s highest, has stunning views; the Schuss Haus Corona Bar opened last season and is a perfect spot to chill out with drinks and tacos after skiing; be sure to try a Snowflake Burger at the Snowflake Café.
Stay The three-star Park Hotel sits in the Tongariro National Park with easy access to both ski fields; the Powderhorn Chateau is a boutique, classic timber chalet in Ohakune.
Oh, So Good Relax in a geothermal hot pool.
Small and Mighty
Outside the orbit of the major snow resorts, many of the smaller ski fields in Australia and NZ also have some exciting offerings this year.
Victoria’s Mount Baw Baw now ‘guarantees’ snow, thanks to a new snow factory on the mountain in partnership with TechnoAlpin.
The factory has the ability to produce 110 cubic metres of snow daily.
“Being one of the few alpine resorts in Australia with a snow factory, we’re convinced this will be our best season yet,” says the resort’s general manager John Fascio. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for Mount Baw Baw’s environmental ambassadors, two adopted dingoes. The cute pups are at the resort all year, greeting visitors and going on guided walks.
Across the border, in NSW, Selwyn has enhanced its snowmaking capability by adding four snow guns, supplementing the 32 already in action. All up, the resort’s snowmaking system covers 80 per cent of its terrain.
As in previous years, the resort is again offering free midweek skiing for kids (advance booking required).
Thirteen of NZ’s small resorts – including Porters, Craigieburn and Broken River – have rafted together to provide attractively priced seven and 10-day Chill Passes. They’re perfect if you’re doing a snow-themed road trip in the Southern Alps.
Adventurous types may want to tackle the Craigieburn Haute Route, a guided four-day ski tour that traverses several peaks and ski areas from Craigieburn to Mount Olympus, with evenings in rustic ski lodges. There are four trips scheduled this season, in August.