Ski Industry News

Southern Hemisphere Snow

by Kirsten Dobroth | February 24, 2016

So, what’s the draw of heading South of the equator for some snowy fun? It could be knowing that your goggle tan will have a rad base for when you return and start getting in some early season hot laps, or that while all of your friends are deck-ing, or beach-ing, or pool-ing, you’re skiing, and that’s way more fun. Where do you go for the best Southern Hemisphere snow? Check out some spots that have been luring Northern Hemisphere powder hounds for years.
New Zealand
New Zealand’s South Island is often failed by words in terms of its striking beauty. In terms of easy access to skiing, Queenstown International Airport is a jaw dropping port of entry that allows visitors a chance to sample some prime Kiwi resorts. Use Queenstown as your home base to sample the Remarkables and Coronet, or drive over the Crown Range to spend the day at Cardrona and unwind for an afternoon in the town of Wanaka. While much of the terrain North American skiers and riders are used to will be replaced with rails, boxes, and jumps at most of the area’s ski fields, get your legs burning at Treble Cone, which offers the most vertical of any of the Queenstown/Wanaka area resorts. Head out for the night in Queenstown (be prepared for a rough morning), which is known just as much for its nightlife as its pristine and unspoiled views. For a quieter stay, check out Wanaka, about an hour and a half away over the Crown Range, which offers the same easy access to resorts and dramatic topography in a slightly more laid back setting. For those really looking to push themselves on the pinnacle of Kiwi terrain, book a heliski trip through one of the many adventure travel companies in Queenstown (don’t gawk at the price- just do it).
If flying into Auckland, spend a day at Mt. Ruapehu, New Zealand’s only skiable volcano. Located centrally on New Zealand’s North Island, Mt. Ruapehu offers a nice mix of beginner and advanced terrain, along with the novelty that comes with riding half pipes naturally formed by lava flows.
Head to Perisher to experience the largest ski resort the Southern Hemisphere has to offer. With a medley of beginner to more advanced terrain and a host of mountainside family activities to choose from, Perisher is a fantastic place for families looking to fit some hot laps into their Australian vacation. Or, for those looking to really get the most out of some time on snow during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer, spend your days exploring the resort’s seven peaks spread across 1,245 skiable hectacres.
Post up in Bariloche, a plane ride away from Buenos Aires (roughly 1600 km) to experience some quintessential South American skiing and snowboarding. In particular, Cerro Catedral (also commonly referred to as the Bariloche Ski Resort) is located 20 km from the town, and offers a good mix of skiing and riding for every ability level. Take in some breathtaking views of Lake Nahuel Huapei, and enjoy South America’s largest area of lift accessible terrain, with half of Cerro Catedral’s expanse being off piste.
For those really looking to push their limits on Southern Hemisphere snow, head to Las Lenas for some pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming lines. Advanced and expert level skiing and riding is rife at Las Lenas, with terrain off of the Marte lift contributing to 39,000 skiable acres with 1,200 meters of vertical drop (although much of this figure is comprised of unpatrolled, expert terrain).
Portillo and Valle Nevado are some of the more recognized resorts in the area, sitting high in the Andes and a doable distance when flying into Santiago. Valle Nevado, in particular, is connected to La Parva, El Colorado, and Farellones resorts via Tres Valles.
Portillo has been a pretty iconic destination for Southern Hemisphere snow for a while, as the Skiing World Championships held at the resort in 1966 helped to put it on the map (it was the first South American resort to host the event). Since then, the resort has expanded to include a nice medley of beginner to expert level big lines, with an emphasis on steeper runs for more advanced skiers and riders.

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