The difference between skiing in Australia and skiing in New Zealand

New Zealand has claimed its spot at the top of the list for international travellers wanting and adventure and an adrenalin rush, with its amazing skiing, bungy jumping, jet boating, sky diving, black water rafting, zip lining, zorbing etc.

Australia may be known for it’s ski fields however it is has its own worthy points, in this article we will show the difference between skiing in Australia and skiing in New Zealand.

Last year we travelled to Queenstown to hit the slopes to find the difference between the Australian ski fields and New Zealand ski fields.

The first difference that we found was there was that there is no “on mountain” accommodation in Queenstown. Where as in Australia, I think we have been a little spoilt, as most resorts have ski in ski out accommodations available.

Here you are able to staying on the mountain in the middle of the snow, you’re able to sleep in, have a nice relaxed hot breakfast and coffee while overlooking the slopes, get dressed and go out snowboarding.

You have the opportunity to head back to the apartment for lunch and then head back out for a few runs in the afternoon and then come back at the apartment, unbuckle your boots and wander into the nice heated apartment.

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A typical ski day in New Zealand would go something like this

As the New Zealand ski fields don’t offer on mountain accommodation, the mornings are a crazy rush to have a quick breakfast, throw on your snow gear, grab your board and run out the door to the nearly bus stop.

If you’re lucky and time your morning properly you may arrive at the bus stop around the same time as the bus, but if you’re unlucky or running a little late then you might have to literally run to catch the bus in time (running in ski or snowboard boots is almost impossible)

Or you might be left hanging around on the street corner in your ski gear for half an hour or longer until the next bus arrives. The bus takes approx. an hour until you finally arrive on the mountain and head out skiing or snowboarding for the day.

Lunch time is also a different story in New Zealand, because you don’t have the option of ski in, ski out you are left to have lunch with everyone else and the chance of getting into a warm sheltered public areas is fairly slim as everyone else trying to stay warm at lunch, so you end up eating outside in the cold.

After a day of skiing everyone heads back to the bus stop, hanging around waiting for the bus to take us all back down the mountain…don’t forget that everyone who goes up the mountain during the day on the bus has to head back down that afternoon, so there is usually a mad scramble for spots on the buses.

If you’re unlucky enough to be caught in a blizzard or severe snow storm where the buses are unable to run, everyone gets stuck on the mountain and you get to sleep with thousands of people crammed into a sheltered public area (sounds cosy, huh?). Needless to say, you head back to your apartment pretty buggered!

With this all said New Zealand is still a premium skiing spot, the snowboarding in-between the morning and the afternoon mad rush helps to forgive and forget all the unpleasant things you need to do to get there. The skiing and snowboarding is unbelievable with huge open snow fields and nice gentle slopes for beginners or double black and off piste skiing and snowboarding for the real adrenalin junkies.

While we were in New Zealand, I was impressed with the weather, I am not sure if we just got lucky but everyday was bright and sunny, the conditions were perfect for skiing and snowboarding and the views from the mountain tops were breathtaking (literally take your breathe away with how beautiful and serenity it is).

The difference between skiing in Australia and skiing in New Zealand

The snow is also different; in Australia we have relatively “wet” snow, if you fall in it or spend too much time sitting down you end up with a wet butt or your gloves get soaked and you feel freezing cold in no time.

Where as the snow is New Zealand is a lot drier snow, like most of the rest of the world, it’s fluffy and doesn’t leave you with a wet patch on your butt!

One very cool thing about New Zealand is Heliskiing is an option if your wallet allows it and you have the ability to ski and stay in control (this is very important as there is no ski patrol to come pick you up).

The one thing that really surprised us about the New Zealand ski fields was how spacious the ski slopes were, we didn’t expect it to be so quiet. It’s different on the Australian ski fields, the slopes are packs even during the quiet periods, you can hardly move on the beginner runs, well I lie, the beginners usually help “mow” you down the mountain, you may only end up with 1 or 2 broken bones by the end on it…  (kidding!)

There are nine commercial ski fields within New Zealand, far more than Australia has to offer at only approx. 5 commercial ski fields and some much smaller ski fields. Unfortunately Australian snow can be very unpredictable and some years there is very little snow, while other years the snow is fantastic. 

New Zealand seems to have consistently good reliable snow (well atleast 90% of the time..). So there are pros and cons for both countries. Personally I love them both for their own unique features.

Do you have a favourite ski field?


  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

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  1. THeir is club accomdation at Whakkappa which is on the volcano but like the south island resorts no trees for shelter

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