New Zealand consists of two main islands, North and South. Whakapapa and Turoa are the only commercial resorts on the North Island, so most visitors will use Queenstown, Wanaka and Christchurch as a base for visiting the South Island resorts. Winter season generally lasts between June to October.
There are twelve commercially owned and operated resorts and a dozen or so ‘Club Fields’ run by non-profit club committees.Small, social and New Zealand made, they are a classic piece of Kiwiana and well worth while checking out. In recent years many people have rediscovered the charms and attractions of Club Fields. They are lured by the uncrowded slopes, with the spectacular setting of the Southern Alps, spread out as a back drop.
The commercial resorts have spent big over the last 5 years building parks and pipes. It is now the standard that every resort has a decent park and at least one halfpipe. This has been spured on even further with New Zealands first dedicated terrain park resort, Snowpark, which opened a couple of seasons ago.
Taking a ‘Snowboard Tour’ is a good idea if you’re visiting NZ for a short time, as it would help maximise your time on the mountain. There are a number of companies offering all inclusive boarding tours for New Zealand, shop around because prices are competitive. prices are competitive. If you fancy making a career out it, you could look at doing a snowboard instructor course with SnowSkool down on the south island resort of Treble Cone. Visit www.snowskool.co.uk for more information.
New Zealand resorts tend to have very limited on-mountain accommodation, so you will be most likely staying in some nearby town. Naturally, these vary in size as does the night-life from the busy party towns to the quieter club fields. Queenstown has over 20 bars and clubs and is often referred to as the action and adventure capital of NZ.
NZ’s international gateway airports are, Auckland and Wellington for North Island and Christchurch and Queenstowns for the South Island. The average flight time from London is 21 hours with a few stop overs.
Driving in NZ is an economical way to get around. If you’r e looking to drive to some resorts then you will probably need chains. A lot of the drives to the resorts are on unsealed and very dodgy dirt roads. Car hire services are available at all the airports and when hiring, ask about deals for road trips to the mountains, these can include discounts on accommodation and lift passes. Campervans are a cheap hire option with a five day hire costing from $460. As well as the usual hire companies, there are some that specialise in longer term rental for backpackers, with prices from $25 per day. More info take a look at www.rentalz.co.nz Do check and make sure you are allowed on certain roads with a hire care.
Bus travel in NZ is cheap and convenient, either with a local bus company or one of the majors with most resorts covered. You can travel from Queenstown to Christchurch for around $40.
Most resorts can be reached by train which is not that expensive. However, you will need to transfer by local buses, in most cases under 12 miles.
Resorts in New Zealand
£395 Residence Le Belmont, Les Arcs, France, 3* Self Catered for 7 nights
Departs Sat 21 Mar , from Edinburgh