Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are getting longer and summer is nearly underway. Down Under, our mates are gearing up for winter - “sussing out” the slopes, grooming the “ski fields” and welcoming
visitors for another season of skiing, snowboarding and off-piste (off-track) winter activities like dog sledding,
snow shoeing and tubing treks.
Australia has about 20 ski resorts that cater to everyone from
first-timers and families, to extreme skiers and boarders. Here
are a few highlights.
Thredbo in New South Wales is best for advanced skiers who
enjoy "a thigh burn" and "cashed-up latte lovers" (so says Australian Traveller) who can ski into 11 on-mountain restaurants. Thredbo is also home to the 3.6 mile (5.8 km) Supertrail, the longest run in Australasia with the country’s biggest vertical drop. Get their Winter Planner here.
Selwyn Snowfields in NSW (in Kosciusko National Park) is a great place to introduce kids to snow, while Mt. Buller in Victoria (a 3-hour drive from Melbourne) is great for mogul madmen and freestylers. In fact, the annual ABOM Mogul Challenge in August takes place right here at Mt. Buller and attracts a field of international Olympians and World Cup competitors.
Mt. Hothan in Victoria is great for extreme skiers and boarders who like their snow steep. The resort even has its own airport; QantasLink has direct flights from Sydney or it’s a 4.5-hour drive from Melbourne.
Ben Lomond in Tasmania combines stunning alpine scenery in a boutique field setting - with ski-in accommodation in a national park that’s only about 13 miles (20km) from the sea it’s possible to ski and surf in the same day. Check out even more Australia resorts here.
New Zealand has both the altitude and attitude for spectacular snow conditions. From the South Island’s majestic Southern Alps to the North Island - where you can ski or board on a volcano - New Zealand has it all.
Nestled at the foot of the Southern Alps, Mt. Hutt offers spectacular views that stretch out to the Canterbury Plains and the Pacific Ocean. With 1,166 acres (472 hectares)
of varied terrain, first class facilities, two terrain parks,
a 6-seater chairlift, licensed Skiwiland crèche (early childhood education) and a dedicated beginners area - Mt. Hutt has something for everyone.
Mt. Dobson offers a fun skiing and snowboarding experience for everyone from well-groomed slopes to soft
smooth powder that tests the best. Ohau in the Ohau Range - part of Canterbury’s main divide - offers reliable snowfall and fine weather.
During the colder months, Queenstown transforms into a winter wonderland. Coronet Peak ski area - just 20 minutes from central Queenstown and the South Island’s most popular ski area - offers diverse terrain, fantastic views and world-class facilities that recently
got a multi-million dollar makeover.
The Remarkables ski area (45-minutes from Queenstown) is all
about the fun and caters to families, freestylers and those who love
the big mountain environment.
For the spectator in each of us, there’s also the World Heli Challenge in Wanaka. Not for the faint-hearted, this event is considered the most exotic snow-based competition on the planet and brings the world’s top snowboarders and skiers to New Zealand for the “ultimate challenge”.
New Zealand’s high country and mountain resorts are also top training destinations for pro skiers from the Northern Hemisphere, including Shaun White. Snow-crazy tourists come to ski and board, plus they get to rub shoulders with Olympic-class athletes during events like the 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games.
Nearly 1,000 of the world’s top winter sports athletes will compete in more than 25 disciplines at the Winter Games in August - the largest winter sports event outside the Winter Olympics. Held at New Zealand’s top alpine resorts, events will include speed skating, figure skating and ice hockey in Dunedin.
So for locums working Down Under now - and for those who are planning their trip - make time to hit the slopes and winter events. You won’t be disappointed.