Skiing and snowboarding in the Australia and South Pacific region is limited to New Zealand and a small portion of Australia. The ski fields in Australia are located in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales and in the Victorian Alps and are not particularly good for any serious skiing. With only a small amount of snowfall each year from June to August, skiing in Australia is average at best.
In New Zealand, the skiing and mountains are comparable to Europe. The season only lasts from July through to early October, but with 14 commercial ski areas and numerous ski clubs, New Zealand is the most popular skiing destination in the Southern Hemisphere. Mount Ruapehu, Mount Potts and Wanaka are some of the top spots.
Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand: The two largest ski fields are situated on Mount Ruapehu, which is the largest mountain in the World Heritage listed Tongariro National Park. The mountain is home to New Zealand’s highest lift access at over 7,500 feet, the largest ski area and also the longest vertical drop in Australasia at 2,360 feet. Skiing at Mount Ruapehu is generally regarded as the ‘best’ easily accessible snowfields in New Zealand.
Queenstown, New Zealand: Being one of New Zealand’s most popular ski resorts, Queenstown has great facilities including a host of accommodations, restaurants and bars, night skiing, heli-skiing and numerous ski lifts. The mountains are good, with Clarke Glacier and the Harris Mountains having the best powder.
Mount Potts, New Zealand: Mount Potts is New Zealand’s premier skiing mountain, with fantastic powder on long and fast runs. The only access to the top of the mountain is by helicopter. Mount Potts is a regular spot for US ski and snowboard teams Burton and Rossignol. The mountain is also heavily featured in the Lord of the Rings film, The Two Towers.
Wanaka, New Zealand: Located approximately 40 miles from Queenstown, Lake Wanaka is another popular New Zealand ski resort. The Cardrona Alpines are situated nearby and are well serviced by chairlifts, restaurants and bars.
Thredbo, Australia: Situated in the high mountains of New South Wales, Australia, Thredbo is the best that the country has to offer. With a mild winter season and only small amounts of snow, skiing here is not very good. The fields usually turn to compacted ice very early on in the season. On a positive note, some nice restaurants, good bars and nightclubs make the time spent there bearable.