Does skiing in New Zealand live up to the hype?

This column is always easier to write when there's been a huge dump of snow in Australia (up to 90cms in the past week) - more so when you're comparing home with the snow across the ditch. What Australians don't want to shout out to their Kiwi cousins is: "look what we've got, and it's a lot!"

While Aussie ski fields gloat those in New Zealand are struggling, a warm front came in to the South Island to delay Treble Cone's opening weekend until Ullr co-operates again. Let's hope that is soon.

Thredbo may be claiming 95cms of snow in the past seven days and an almost half-metre base but Queenstown's Coronet Peak was forced to describe their off-trail conditions as a "wee bit agricultural" in a recent snow report. Their snow report currently sits at a minimum of 1cm to a maximum of 30cms depending on how close to the snow guns you ski.

Of course we all know that just by talking about it we may jinx it, destining Australia to weeks of rain and New Zealand to powder heaven in July. We still have another two-and-a-half months of the ski season to go so let's not peak too early or claim the season is over before it has truly begun.

New Zealand has long done a brilliant marketing job of convincing easily disgruntled and entitled Australians that the snow and skiing on their side is better than ours. But is that true?

Australia has the largest ski resort in Australasia, Perisher (1245 hectares). We also have the longest run thanks to the 5.9km Supertrail at Thredbo. New Zealand's Turoa ski field claims the most vertical rise with 722 metres, the best Australia can do is 672 metres at Thredbo. What's an extra 50 metres between friends, right?

When it comes to snowfall and quality, New Zealand's snow traditionally has the same moisture content as Australia's but it does get more of it depending on where you ski. The Canterbury region which is the gateway to Mount Hutt and the club fields claim an average of four metres and more per season. That's double our average two metres (without snowmaking, which we excel at). But further down south, New Zealand's Queenstown fields average around two metres while Wanaka's Cardrona claims three metres and Treble Cone closer to five.

Those who like tree skiing will prefer Australia's snow gums as New Zealand's skiing is above the tree line, which makes it harder to see during poor weather conditions. If you prefer ski-in-ski out accommodation, Australia is for you as Cardrona is the only commercial ski field with on-snow accommodation. This means you will have to drive or get transport to New Zealand's ski fields, sometimes on less than stellar roads that put hair on your chest.

There is always something about using a passport to go skiing, it feels exotic and like a true overseas holiday because, well, it is. New Zealand is three hours flying time and about six hours door-to-door when you count in customs, transfers and more.


Sure you can fly from Sydney to Cooma then drive but the travel time all evens out. At least until Qantas re-establish flights to Mount Hotham, Victoria, which we truly hope they do.

Then there's Queenstown. Australia's ski villages are sweet and offer some lively après of their own but they are no "adventure capital" Queenstown. The international resort town sits on a lake with views of mountain peaks thrusting skyward from the shore. Those same peaks people throw themselves off with parachutes, hang-gliders and bungee chords, landing in jet boats on white water rapids and other Bear Grylls-style fare.

Add close to 200 drinking establishments in one square kilometre and our après scene may as well go home. But at least our après scene is on snow. Clutching at straws here. Though we did have Europe's leading après experience, La Folie Douce, at Thredbo last year.

It would be remiss of me to not mention Wanaka. A more laid-back version of Queenstown across the Crown Range and the service town for Treble Cone and Cardrona. Take a camera, you won't believe the vistas if you don't capture them on film to marvel over later.

But back to us. We already have powder photos from June 25 and another 20cms forecast in the week ahead.

That means we win, right? Just don't mention helicopters.


Thanks to Skimax Holidays, we're giving you the chance to win a ski and snowboard trip to Whistler Blackcomb in Canada for two people. You'll fly from Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne to Vancouver, bed down for two nights at the harbourside five-star Pan Pacific Hotel and take in the city's sights including the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and FlyOver Canada. Then you'll spend five nights in luxury at The Westin Resort & Spa at Whistler Blackcomb with ski-lift passes for two for the week you're there.

All you have to do is #hashtag your original Instagram winter-inspired images with #misssnowitall and #skimaxholidays to enter.

Each week we will choose five finalists and add them to our weekly Instagram gallery. Then we'll choose 14 finalists in September for our readers to vote on. It's that easy.

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