The weather has cooled down and all signs are starting to point to winter, which means ski season is just around the corner. With Australia and New Zealand both offering great ski destinations, it can be difficult to know which to choose without breaking the bank.

There’s no doubt that ski holidays can be expensive, and Australia is renowned for its costly accommodation. New Zealand is no exception, as overseas flights can easily rack up a hefty bill. Sydney Observer has explored both locations to find out which will provide the best ski holiday for you
this winter.

There is a veritable smorgasbord of ski locations right at our doorstep, most of which can be reached by car or short plane ride. The gorgeous snowfields of Thredbo and Perisher are only a days drive from Sydney, and both offer fantastic ski runs. Close location is just one of the many benefits of staying within Australia to ski, as most of the runs also provide great skiing experiences, regardless of skill level.

Perisher in particular has a whole range of runs, and their abundance of snow cannons mean skiing is a possibility even if snow is sparse.

Robert Kirk from Harvey World Travel says: “Perisher is just more user friendly, there are more terrains, it’s physically bigger than Thredbo and has a whole range of places for kids to ski as well.”

However, the pricey accommodation of Australia stops many short, and with good reason. Some locations charge over $1000 a night. This, plus the rest of the necessary expenses, and many families are over budget. The solution here is not to stay on the mountain, and instead opt to stay at a location nearby.

Jindabyne is the best example here, as it is only 30 minutes drive from Perisher and Thredbo. Other great places include Lake Crackenback, Selwyn Snowfields and Charlotte’s Pass.

Another solution to keep your staying costs low, is to hire an apartment or a house, and share the cost among a few people. By finding another family to stay with and cooking your own meals, you can keep your costs relatively low, and enjoy your holiday with family and friends.

New Zealand
New Zealand is world renowned for its spectacular mountains and ski fields, from Mt Ruapehu on the North Island, to Queenstown and Canterbury near Christchurch in the South. New Zealand has a much longer ski period than Australia, beginning in June and finishing up around October.

Colin Bowman from Flight Centre says: “You’re more likely to get better snow cover for a longer period than in Australia.”

The ski fields on offer are excellent, and can satisfy both the most dangerous thrill seekers and those tackling the snow for the first time. Queenstown is the most popular choice, as its skiing conditions and upbeat nightlife offer a great all round holiday experience. If you’re after something less touristy then head to locations like Lake Taupo on the North Island, or Temple Basin in Arthur’s Pass on the South Island.

Unlike Australia, many of the ski fields in New Zealand are located near other attractions to keep the whole family entertained. Queenstown, for example, has a huge variety of adventure sports like bungee jumping, bike riding, sky diving, white water rafting and more. You are also able to trade in your ski pass for an activity like this, should the weather not permit skiing on the day.

New Zealand also offers better value for money if you consider the current exchange rate. One Australian dollar will usually buy just over one New Zealand dollar, which makes expenses like eating out, hiring ski gear and extra activities that little bit gentler on your purse strings.

However New Zealand’s biggest flaw as a destination is the cost of overseas flights. The minimum cost for a return flight to Queenstown from Sydney for a family of four is around $2000, then there are all of the other skiing expenses to think about. If you want to go to New Zealand, the key is to plan early and look for package deals. There are huge amounts of ski holiday packages on offer, which include cheap flights, accommodation and ski costs.

The verdict?
Neither one is cheaper than the other, or better value for money, as both destinations can be quite expensive, and both offer stellar skiing experiences.

For those wanting a true holiday away from home, New Zealand is the way to go. The beautiful views, fantastic snow and range of activities you can participate in make it an all round adventure destination. Plan for at least one week away to allow yourself the opportunity to properly soak in the magnificent culture, sights,
and people.

If you’re only looking for a short, convenient getaway then stick within Australia. Take a long weekend and enjoy the best of family friendly skiing, convenient snow field locations, and delicious local produce.

Top Tips

Look for package deals: Flights to New Zealand are significantly cheaper through holiday packages, and Australian destinations often offer great deals like free meals for children.

Book early: Avoid the stress of last minute planning or extra fees and organise your holiday as early as possible, including pre-booking ski passes.

Go with a group: Splitting accommodation costs between more people can really help to keep costs down.

Research all your options: Websites like TripAdvisor and advice from travel agents are vital in finding the best holiday options for your family. Spend the time looking around for the best deals, and keep the money you save for the slopes.