Does the thought of the snow melting and the ski season coming to an end fill you with dread? If you’re anything like me, it’s something I refuse to accept and it has lead me to travelling the world in search of year-round powder.
Skiing in the Southern Hemisphere is different to many resorts in Europe – primarily it’s the infrastructure that differs but you’ll encounter a change in snow consistency and scenery.
You have a choice of nine different ski areas on South Island, New Zealand. Skiing and Snowboarding is also available on the North Island, including the Ruapehu Region, where you can ski down Mt Ruapehu (an active volcano!). However, overall options are more limited on the North Island.
My trip took me to Coronet Peak and Cardrona– the two resorts closest to Queenstown. Lift ticket prices are similar to what you would expect in Europe, but if you’re renting gear it’s possible to walk into a store and rent a pair of skis/snowboard and boots for $10 per day!
There are local buses available to access Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cardrona and Treble Cone. The pluses being that you won’t need to worry about fitting snow chains onto your car or having a few mountain beers but you may need to cope with some hefty lines.
Don’t be mistaken, these resorts are relatively small if you’re used to skiing for miles per day across the Portes Du Soleil. Put that aside though as the postcard picture scenery you’ll take in with each turn as well as the resort options with in relatively short distances of each other will keep you hooked on New Zealand.
I hadn’t planned to ski in Chile. It was a guy staying in the same hostel in Santiago that talked me into it (didn’t take long) as he was going the following day and wanted someone to ride with. I checked the forecast for La Parva (one of closest ski resorts to Santiago), saw the crazy snowfall due overnight and was sold.
There are plenty of ski transfer companies based in Santiago so you can take your pick from the long list of resorts to go to for either day trips or long stays. Where you go can depend on what you’d like to do.
Portillo Ski Resort is world renowned for being the first South American Resort to hot the World Skiing Championships and thrills those seeking amazingly steep slopes. The historic yellow ‘Hotel Portillo’ also makes the resort unique as there is limited lodging on-mountain (one budget hostel is available). However, for a completely new experience you may seek out Volcan Osorno – volcano skiing or Snowcat skiing in Ski Arpa Resort for some of the best untracked powder in the world!
The majority of resorts, including Portillo, have daily buses that will take you to the resorts. If you don't feel like schlepping it with everyone else many ski companies include private transfers in their package prices.
Some resorts like Valle Nevado operate a one-way system to the resort, with cars only allowed up to the resort from 8 am - 2 pm, and down from 2 pm - 8 pm.
It’s simple – fly to Buenos Aires and then an internal flight to your destination. Check with each resort on the local airport.
Choosing where to ski in my opinion was a minefield. Resorts are not close together and public transport is a little tricky, not mention, relatively expensive for what you may imagine South America to be like. Renting a car would be the best option for visiting multiple resorts.