It can be tricky choosing the perfect ski resort. From skiing in Australia to enjoying Japan's snow season, the options are overwhelming for the most advanced skier. To help you decide, Cover-More has put together a list of popular winter destinations, including key factors for beginners to consider. Consider protecting your winter holiday with our travel insurance.
Is this your first time hitting the slopes? See our essential guide for skiing and snowboarding.
More than a tropical paradise, Australia is the perfect destination for novice skiers. With ten ski locations spread across three states, the Australian ski season is a great place to start learning. Lasting from July to September, enjoy the snow-capped mountains of your backyard. Despite the shorter season, Australia has world-class facilities and fantastic ski schools. This includes Perisher Valley - the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere. With relatively low altitudes and a lack of peaks, slopes are well suited to beginners. Even better - the low elevations reduce the risk of alpine sickness.
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Nestled in Kosciusko National Park lies the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere. Combining four smaller ski resorts, Perisher is suitable for beginners to seasoned pros. Renowned for its superior ski schools, learn from world experts and take on intermediate slopes by week’s end. While offering ski lodges on the slopes, many visitors choose to stay in nearby Jindabyne. This charming town in southern New South Wales is the perfect place to relax after a hard day's skiing.
On the other side of Jindabyne lies Perisher's little brother, Thredbo. Although smaller, Thredbo has the highest lift in Australia. For that reason, it's no surprise that it is home to the longest ski run in the country. Although less geared towards beginners, Thredbo still has a dedicated beginner’s section and ski school. Although, what makes Thredbo remarkable is its charming village vibe. With a fantastic apres ski scene, reward your efforts with a drink at one of Thredbo's many bars.
If you want to stay in the midst of the mountains, then Falls Creek is for you. In July and August, the village is entirely ski-in-ski-out. That way, you can get up, put on your skis and explore the magical mountain surrounds. With fewer crowds and gentle slopes, Falls Creek attracts beginners and intermediate skiers. With wide-open ski fields, try your luck with a cross-country ski adventure. Hidden in the north-east corner of Victoria, explore Falls Creek for your Australia snow holiday.
If mountain roads put you off a snow adventure, then Australia’s most accessible ski resort might be for you. Just a three-hour drive from Melbourne, Mt Buller is popular with day trippers and holiday goers alike. Catering to all ski levels, take on the slopes while taking in the village views below.
New Zealand is a world-class winter sports destination for beginners and experts alike. Lasting longer than the Australian ski season, slopes are open from early June to October. While offering many ski fields, visitors usually base themselves in Queenstown or Wanaka. Being an hour’s drive away from each other, choosing which place to stay is a matter of personal preference. Consider Queenstown the bolder, more confident big brother to Wanaka with the only night skiing available in the Southern Hemisphere. If you're looking for a quiet and more subdued après-ski scene, then Wanaka might be your best choice. Both locations have buses to ski fields, rental gear, and great restaurants.
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A favourite among locals, Cardrona is situated halfway between Queenstown and Wanaka. Perfect for beginners, Cardrona offers plenty of easy slopes – the main having a spectacular view of the Crown Range. For experienced skiers, the mountain has plenty of intermediate and advanced runs too. If you’re into flips and tricks, it has a halfpipe of dreams.
As Coronet Peak, The Remarkables & Mt Hutt are all part of the NZSki group, you can buy a pass that allows you to ski at all three mountains. Called the 3 Peak Pass, it’s perfect for die-hard skiers and boarders with all-season access to all the destinations.
Coronet Peak is an easy 25-minute drive from Queenstown with buses running regularly from the centre of town. The resort boasts the biggest snowmaking system in the Southern Hemisphere, rollercoaster terrain and great options for kids all the way from 3 months to 17 years of age. Coronet Peak is loved for its night skiing on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, usually followed by a cosy pizza dinner and mulled wine on the heated deck.
The Remarkables is a 40-minute drive from Queenstown and is a destination for serious skiers/boarders. The resort features three north-facing, snow-filled bowls that have extensive runs and dedicated park facilities. The Remarkables is adding 8,000m2 of learners’ terrain in 2018, making the resort more accessible for novice riders.
Mt Hutt has been awarded New Zealand’s best ski resort three years running at the World Ski Awards for its big mountain experience, legendary powder runs and Kiwi hospitality. Thirty minutes from the ski town of Methven in Canterbury, the mountain is home to the South Island’s highest chair lift and largest lift-accessible terrain. With an annual four-meter snow fall, it also typically has one of the longest snow seasons in New Zealand.
The largest ski resort on the South Island, Treble Cone is known for long runs, well-kept slopes, and exquisite views. As most ski runs are intermediate and above, it's not as suited to beginners. If you're a confident skier and love a good view, choose Treble Cone. It’s much closer to Wanaka than Queenstown, so situating yourself in Wanaka is best.
Japan offers ultimate ski adventure with a cultural twist. With the ski season lasting from December to April, trade the Australian heat for the Japanese snow. Its powder snow is world famous and is suitable for all levels. Despite the language barrier, ski resorts such as Hakuba and Niseko are perfect for international visitors. Offering high-quality ski schools, learn from the best and take in breath-taking views. After shredding the Japanese powder, soak in a traditional ‘Onsen’ hot spring and enjoy the authentic Asian delicacies on offer.
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Niseko is the most popular ski destination for Australians in Japan. With a large number of visitors each year, you'll be easily understood and have food options you're familiar with. Beyond the food, you will experience classic, powder snow Japan is famous for. With a cluster of seven ski areas, take on the slopes with a single ski pass. Receiving more snowfall than any other ski resort in the world, choose Niseko for a winter sports holiday you’ll never forget.
With the largest foreign populations in Japan, Hakuba is becoming the go-to ski destination for international visitors. The Hakuba Valley hosts nine ski resorts, suiting people of all ages and abilities. The most popular are Happo and Goryu. Both consist of wide open runs, steep slopes, and beginner-friendly areas. If spectating is more your style, Hakuba has a cafe accessible by chairlift. Here, customers can enjoy hot matcha tea and observe the pros from a comfortable setting.
Shiga Kogen is located on the main island and is a special treat for avid skiers. With a collection of 21 ski resorts and 71 different tracks, Shiga Kogen is the place for everyone. Hidden among its many ski fields are several different villages. Pop into a different one each day for a well-earnt sashimi or gyoza.
Have a friend who's recently moved to Canada? With world-class facilities, bountiful snow and gorgeous mountains, it's easy to see why. Whether you want to follow suit or simply visit, the Canada ski season will not disappoint. With a ski season lasting from September to May, it's a perfect getaway for an Aussie summer. Home to some of the friendliest people in the world, feel welcomed by the Canadian hospitality. The two most popular resorts for Aussies to visit are Whistler and Banff. Located in two completely different provinces, make a trip to the one that suits you best.
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Home to the biggest ski resort in North America, Whistler has enough ski runs to suit all levels. So, if you’re looking to go for an entire season, this will be the perfect way to track your progress. With more visitors than any other ski resort worldwide, it is definitely essential for your bucket list!
Located in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, Banff has a more relaxed, village feel. Much more of a quintessential Canadian feel than Whistler. In comparison, it has smaller crowds (they’re still big by our standards) which gives it a slightly more chill pace for the luxury traveller. If you’re set staying all season there are also some great hikes to experience, it’s not just about the snow!
Much like all things in the United States of America, the ski scene is huge. With countless snow covered destinations across the nation, there is a whole lot to explore. The USA ski season typically runs from November to early April. However, some of the larger resorts are known to stay open as late as July. Despite so many options, Australian visitors love take on the slopes of Colorado and Lake Tahoe. From spectacular resorts to ski schools and even Olympic slopes, the US sure provides a ski holiday like no other.
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With 24 resorts ranging from luxury names such as Aspen to smaller, city-owned ski areas, the question with Colorado Ski Country is where to begin? The high elevation of the region’s mountains sees great snow quality and an enduring ski season, typically from October to April.
The area’s snow resorts are known for good guest service, family friendly skiing, ‘mountain coasters’ and entertainment for those who prefer to stay indoors.
The snowboarding scene is huge in Colorado, while experienced skiers can choose from bowl, powder cat, night and heli-skiing. First-time skiers are also covered, with most resorts running a ski school. Do your research and book in advance to make the most of your snow holiday and to take advantage of any special deals. International visitors will typically visit the picturesque surrounding ski towns in addition to on-mountain activities.
Eight regional airports in Colorado Ski Country have direct connections with Los Angeles International Airport, after which you can hire a car or take a shuttle to your resort of choice. The Winter Park Express and the new train to Denver International Airport (DEN) provide rail access to the Winter Park Resort.
Imagine skiing on slopes so impressive that Olympians have competed there before you, all while gazing at the spectacular sight that is Lake Tahoe. As the largest alpine lake in North America, it crosses two states – California and Nevada.
Reno/Tahoe International Airport offers excellent access to both North Lake Tahoe and Tahoe South with non-stop flights to 17 cities and 7 international flights departing weekly.
North Lake Tahoe is home to 12 downhill ski mountains and 6 cross-country areas. The destination has a high concentration of ski resorts, each with varying terrain and amenities.
Typically, the ski/ride season can begin as early as November and extend through to April or even July depending on conditions. Aside from skiing and snowboarding, activities include snowtubing, sledding, or even a starlit snowshoe tour with a professional astronomer. The impressive vistas of North Lake Tahoe provide the perfect setting for some s’mores and hot cocoa, or cuisine featuring local produce.
The region runs an impressive events program including Festival of Lights, Alpenglow Sports Mountain Festival, Winter Wonder Grass musical festival, and ‘Olde World Christmas’ at The Village at Squaw Valley featuring a 7 metre Singing Christmas Tree.
Tahoe South combines spectacular natural beauty with an array of outdoor recreation options, entertainment, casinos and nightlife. The region is another hot spot for a lively events calendar.
From November through April, opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and snowshoeing are plentiful. The three main resorts are: Heavenly where intermediate to expert skiers can try 97 trails; Sierra at Tahoe – perfect for beginner skiers; and Kirkwood, a secluded mountain setting for families and the more adventurous alike.
Finding the ideal ski and snowboard holiday destination can be a tough decision for many Aussies. With so many options across the globe, there is a lot to take into consideration. Some factors to go by include the particular ski season, your skill levels and overall interest in the destination. Remember wherever you are in the world, there are plenty of amazing ski slopes waiting to be conquered.
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