Ski Resorts - New Zealand vs Australia
Australia has snow? Wait, what?! I guess the question is, is it worth visiting over NZ? Growing up in New Zealand, shredding the beautiful terrain the Southern Alps provided, was a blessing. I knew there was snow in Australia but it never crossed my mind to do a season there. Why would you, when you have Mordor in your own back yard. Life changes though, and I found myself on a plane to Sydney. I had an on-snow interview for an instructor position at Thredbo Resort. Going in with a skeptical attitude, I was pleasantly surprised. These the difference I found.
Snow and Terrain
New Zealand definitely takes it out on snow conditions. More snow falls and lighter powder. I’ve seen the whole South Island blanketed in snow a couple of times. It’s an amazing sight and, for us shredders, a giant playground. That amazing feeling of a white room is a lot easier to achieve in NZ.
Don’t get me wrong, Aussie has its good days but they are few and far between. Even then, you better not have missed leg day because you’re gonna get worked! Moist, heavy snow tends to fall here, making it harder to slash and spray. Lucky for the punters! ;) those snow conditions have a massive effect on the rideable terrain. If Australia has a good season, you’re in for a sick time. T-bars are scattered everywhere, giving you great access to bowls, rock drops and tree runs. Once you’re off-piste, you’re spoiled for choices. Carry on down into the gum trees to test your control and score those untouched lines we all dream of. That’s the one thing NZ is missing. Other than the trees, NZ is much the same, including huge bowls and a good range of rock drops, except it’s steeper and deeper!
Australian terrain parks are legit! No doubt you’ve seen some loose edits out of Perisher. The park is stacked. Rail after rail. Massive kickers with enough hang time for triples. Frequent rebuilds and a good range of beginner, intermediate and advanced features, making for a super fun progression in the slush.
New Zealand’s parks are awesomely fun with a good variety of progressive parks! But I feel like they could do better. Bigger kickers and more rails. The more features you can hit in a run, the better. NZ did have it sorted when Snow Park was operational. Cardrona has really stepped it up since then. Hopefully the rest will follow. There is a reason all the world’s best park riders go to Aussie…
Stumble out your door, down the road to the bus stop. Sleep away the sketchy bus ride up the goat track that’s carved into the side of a mountain. BOOM. You step off, take a deep breath of crisp air and head to the lifts. Everything is up there in once place. Aussie on the other hand… No public buses up to Thredbo. Perisher does have the Ski Tube, but you still have to get yourself to the parking lot in some pretty ridiculous traffic. So that means either raping your bank account and staying in the village, or risk the cop stops and bumper-to-bumper on Alpine Way while staying in town. Not to mention the $27/day park entry fee that you have to pay. There are perks of having a village at the bottom of the hill, though. Lots of bars and restaurants with amazing views (both on and off-mountain), which is great for Apres. Ski in Ski out accommodation. Thredbo is very well set up with their own sporting complex, complete with pool, gym, ball courts, and a trampoline training facility. All free for season pass holders. They even have a courtesy shuttle that will take you from the beginner slopes to the more intermediate runs.
New Zealand has some impressive events on and off mountain. Queenstown winter festival would have to be the highlight. With a huge line up over two weeks. Live music, rails jams, ice skating, races, and concerts attracting thousands of people.
Freestyle competitions, races, and social shred gatherings are scattered through the season. The stash gathering at the Remarkables would have to be my favourite. Relaxed environment a BBQ cranking and everyone vining of each other. With a custom park set up in the only Burton Stash freestyle park this side of the world. Your sure to see some creative riding and have a blast.
Spending my season at Thredbo meant there was no shortage of events. The park crew put in some serious hours. All ways rebuilding parks for multiple slopestyle events, night rail jams, rider cross and banked Salomon courses. To top it off a 80ft sender with 3 big side hits. Plenty of sick events to test your skills. Be sure to check out sausage fest if you can. A super fun social event where the park crew move all the mountains features to one park. Creating some really creative and unique lines. Endless possibilities will see you throwing down all day long. On top of all that every weekend is filled with pool parties and live music. Check out the river inn for a taste beer after a hard day. Walk straight off the snow, over a bridge and into there beer garden. Where you'll probably find people dancing on tables and drinking german beer.
Jindabyne has a decent night life with a few good bars and one night club. Pumping mostly on a Wednesday and Saturday night is The Banjo. Your normally meet with a huge line and shitty music though. Other than that theres the good old local sports bars. Time your stay right and you could be dancing the night away in Thredbo village as snow blankets your surroundings. Few times a season they set up a stage in the village centre. Top DJ’s and artists eco there talent through the valley. Don't worry if the times don't line up. Theres still plenty to see and hear. Locals play in multiple bars all week and your spoilt for choices in the weekend.
Queenstown is loose!! There isn't really a down day/night. With well over 100 bars and restaurant the choices are over whelming. My advice is to walk around and find where the happy hours and good vibes are at. You can start at World bar, Skybar or the Find. If your after something a bit more up beat check out Buffalo bar, Winnies or Vinyl underground. Or go full tourist and check out one of the two ice bar. Everything is made out of ice. From the bar you order at to the cups and shot glasses you drink from. No matter your style your sure to find it in Queenstown. If not check out Wanaka. Only a hour away. Epic views of lake Wanaka reflecting the snow capped mountains meeting its shores set an awesome backdrop for a safety session.
Its a tough choice. If Australia got more snow id take it over NZ. The option off trees is huge in my books. So much fun! Paired with feature packed parks its a close one. A shame Ullar doesn't provide more.
Which leads me on to New Zealand. SNOW! Every true snowboarder or skier will follow the powder. Nothing beats laying in to a big carve and been rewarded with a wall of fluffy snow engulfing you. Riding out blind into day light before entering that white room again. If theres no powder you've still good sweet parks. Not your thing? Then hit the famous Queenstown night life. Just don't miss a powder day for a hang over. Savour the finer things in life…