There’s something for skiers and non-skiers alike in Australia’s and New Zealand’s Alpine regions, writes Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan, so give in to the pull of clear skies and crisp air, rugged scenery and unforgettable runs this winter. Toasty nights and fine dining beckon, and the accommodation is a destination in itself. It’s time to escape. It’s time for the thrill. It’s snow time.
A friendly rivalry between Australia and New Zealand is inherent in both cultures, but it would seem there are a few things we can agree on –
Australia can’t cut it in the rugby stakes and New Zealand is no rival when it comes to cricket. But who has the best skiing?
I’ve never heard a Kiwi say Australia is the place to ski and there’s many an Aussie who’ll agree. That’s not to say that Australia doesn’t have some amazing skiing, though. The largest ski resort in Australasia belongs to Perisher in New South Wales, and Australia also has the longest run – Thredbo’s Supertrail, which lasts a whopping 5.9 kilometres.
That said, the most vertical descent can be found in New Zealand’s Mount Ruapehu. And New Zealand’s highest mountain dwarfs Australia’s by a good 1,000 metres. Not to mention the heli-skiing in New Zealand, which is simply beyond compare. (As are their Afghan cookies; something Australia definitely can’t lay claim to!)
As to who has the most luxurious ski accommodation? Well, that’s something you’ll need to decide for yourself. We’ve tried to help you out by listing some of the most opulent, but there’s no doubt the rivalry between these two countries will continue.
When it comes to skiing and luxury, I’m a little biased. For me, New Zealand – the cinematic home of The Hobbit – is my favourite place to ski. In particular, Wanaka, where the ski fields of Cardrona and Treble Cone compete for top billing.
Queenstown also offers spectacular views and the high-level ski fields of The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. It’s also closer to lively nightlife for those who want an action-packed après ski. While there’s minimal accommodation on the slopes in the South Island (this is absolutely where Australia comes in trumps), the exhilaration of driving up steep mountains while gazing at untamed wilderness and powder snow only adds to the experience.
There are also private heli-ski charters aplenty, offering access to thousands of vertical feet of untracked snow. And, after a day on the slopes, there are no finer lodgings than those found in the South Island, where a glass of pinot noir and a soak in the spa will have you scanning the real estate pages for your next investment.
At the southern end of Lake Wanaka on the South Island, Wanaka is the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park. A popular destination all year, the ski options are among the best in New Zealand, with Treble Cone, Cardrona and Snow Farm all nearby.
Views over Lake Wanaka framed by the expansive glass and high ceilings of The Dacha could be enough to keep you from the slopes in the Otago region of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, as could the private chef’s creations. It’s also a fantastic base for summer alpine activities.
The Dacha, Wanaka
Lake Wanaka is the backdrop to this stunning private residence. Featuring a soaring 4.8-metre vaulted ceiling and clerestory, the living area of The Dacha main lodge offers 177 square metres that only enhance the singular view beyond.
The lounge has an impressive schist-clad fireplace, which in winter casts an ambient glow as the mountains dominate the horizon across the lake – a sumptuous spot for guests to relax and share stories with a drink in hand by firelight.
Your personal chef is available to prepare breakfast using local organic produce, while your personal concierge can help plan another perfect day in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
NZ$8,000–11,500 per night
Architecturally designed, this luxury home offers an unimpeded view of Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to an expansive, sun-drenched deck with an ever-changing view.
With three bedrooms and three bathrooms, relax in an ultra-modern home in an extraordinary location. Complete with a fully equipped kitchen, barbecue, luxurious furnishings and fine New Zealand art, this property provides the ideal setting to connect with friends and family.
NZ$2,650 per night
For the ultimate rush, Southern Lakes Heliski offers heliskiing for intermediate to advanced skiers and boarders, and flies from Queenstown and Wanaka.
With its vast array of adventure tourism activities, Queenstown is a popular spot for those looking to explore the Southern Alps. Skiers can enjoy the runs of Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, as well as Cardrona and Treble Cone. It’s also near several wineries.
The Penthouse at Eichardt’s has Queenstown’s largest private terrace for that view.
Eichardt’s Private Hotel, Queenstown
Straight to the top, we say, and in a private lift sounds fine. The new wing of Eichardt’s offers uninterrupted views across Lake Wakatipu to the mountains beyond.
With 240 square metres of spacious living areas, indoor and outdoor kitchens, two large bedrooms, marble bathrooms, sauna, spa and Queenstown’s largest private terrace, The Penthouse is the ultimate in luxury accommodation.
Exquisitely designed, you’ll want for nothing. Sauna? Tick. Kitchen with Gaggenau and Sub-Zero appliances? Tick. Pool. Fireplace. Tick, tick, tick. You’ll never want to leave. But if you do, you won’t have to go far – there’s a private sanctuary in the Vault Spa for personalised restorative therapies.
For a unique cruise, try Pacific Jemm, Eichardt’s 80-foot Falcon-S luxury yacht.
Penthouse NZ$10,000 per night (approx.)
Marvel in the architecture at Lodge at the Hills.
Lodge at the Hills, Queenstown
Set in a glacial valley on 500 acres and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, the Lodge at the Hills is pure indulgence. From grand entrances and voids to intimate nooks and private sitting rooms in the suites, Lodge at The Hills is an architectural masterpiece.
Individual in their design and complete with luxurious furnishings, each of the six bedroom suites has its own sitting area with gas fire, ensuite with soak tub and picture perfect views. The outstanding outdoor facilities include a championship-size grass tennis court, heated infinity swimming pool, sauna and spa. Private rentals only for you and eleven guests.
NZ$33,000–38,000 per night
A luxury Queenstown accommodation offering that is sure to delight. With views toward Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cardrona, enjoy all-day sunshine in this bright, north-facing home.
Don’t forget your boules for a spot of pétanque. Or perhaps a game of tennis is more your thing? This contemporary home offers a court and a pétanque pitch with private trails around the wetlands and enormous grounds for the family to enjoy.
Coronet Peak ski area is a short, 15-minute drive. If you’re visiting Queenstown in winter, simply pull back the curtains each morning to check the snow. In summer, enjoy watching paragliders descend over the Wakatipu Basin as you sample a glass of local pinot noir next to the outdoor fireplace.
So with all that New Zealand luxury, why would you ski in Australia? For a start, there are around 1,250 hectares of terrain, which is
more than double that found at Treble Cone, the biggest resort in New Zealand.
There’s also the fact that you may not want a nail-biting drive up to the ski fields. Australia’s ski areas are based around villages. Many are ski-in and ski-out, including Falls Creek. Australia also has trees that hold stashes of powder, and skiing gives that James Bond-style thrill you won’t find across the ditch.
The largest resort in Australia is Perisher. Of course, there are also exquisite properties to stay at, so read on and take your pick. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
Mount Buller has a picturesque little village that offers ski-in, ski-out accommodation as well as a variety of places to eat and drink. Located three hours from Melbourne, the fields offer 100 kilometres of slopes for all levels and 21 ski lifts.
You’ll find Victoria’s largest resort and 450 hectares of skiable terrain at Falls Creek. At 2.2 kilometres, it has the longest green runs in Australia and the longest Poma ride giving access to the best black runs in the area. The Fox Trail is the ultimate terrain playground for kids learning to ski and snowboard with its naturally forming rollercoasters, berms, jumps and mini igloos.
The Chalet 5 on-snow luxury condo on Mount Buller offers spectacular views, acres of space, all the mod cons and a true ski-in, ski-out experience.
Chalet 5, Mount Buller
These on-snow luxury condos are the highest residential property on Mount Buller, enjoying sweeping views of The Bluff with access to Blue Bullet, Bull Run and Mercedes-Benz chairlifts. There are three self-contained apartments available offering expansive spaces, freestanding
baths, plush beds and a spa-inspired ensuite with underfloor heating. A full kitchen, large living area with fireplace and private balcony
create the perfect ski destination.
Ski out your door and within a minute you’ll be on Bull Run, a five-minute warmup to ski school or the lesson meeting point, and a ten-minute ski down to Mount Buller village.
Price on request
BullerRoo may be a drive from the top of the mountain but the views are expansive and kangaroos can be seen everywhere.
BullerRoo, Mount Buller
BullerRoo is a luxurious apartment offering a rooftop terrace overlooking acres of farmland. It’s a sublime destination for a glass of bubbles, or perhaps a schnapps, and some seafood on the barbecue while bragging about the day’s skiing. While not ski-in, skiout – it’s about a 50-minute drive to the top of the mountain – you have 180-degree views of Buller and can watch the many kangaroos.
This luxury ski chalet offers a fully equipped kitchen, oversized fireplace and an open-plan dining and lounge area. Completed in 2020, the architect-designed property combines an eclectic mix of thoughtfully curated artefacts.
From $610 per night
The spa at QT is perfect for aching ski legs.
QT, Falls Creek
QT is the place to stay in Falls Creek. Offering self-contained accommodation with hot tubs and private balconies that allow you to gaze
over the ski fields, QT Falls Creek is situated at the base of the main ski runs. There’s also a day spa, an indoor pool, a restaurant and bar.
From $430 per night
New South Wales
The Snowy Mountains region is located near the south-eastern corner of New South Wales and encompasses the state’s highest mountain ranges and ski fields. Bordering the Australian Capital Territory, the region extends from Tumut south through to Lake Eucumbene, the state’s largest made-made reservoir. The region continues further south to the holiday resort town of Jindabyne, located on the shores of Lake Jindabyne, and then down to the state border with Victoria.
The best-known ski fields in the Snowy Mountains are Thredbo and Perisher. They are situated in Kosciuszko National Park, which spans almost 700,000 hectares and is home to Australia’s highest peak. During the 2021 season, resorts will have a cap on the number of lift tickets sold each day, so remember to book early.
Thredbo is a great place to learn to ski or ski the longest run in Australia. Perisher offers four different areas – Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Guthega and Blue Cow. Each has its own personality and terrain for every level. There’s also an impressive network of cross-country trails as well as snowshoe tours to enjoy.
A short hop to Perisher and Thredbo, Forty Nine Post Office Lane is perfect for a family.
Forty Nine Post Office Lane, Crackenback
This Myson+Berkery architectural home is five minutes from Kosciuszko National Park, five minutes to the Perisher Ski Tube, or a 15-minute drive to Thredbo.
Once here, you’ll find two king beds and a large bunk room for the kids, perfect with six single beds.
There’s also a gourmet kitchen, bathrooms with heated flooring and a media room offering endless hours of board and TV games plus air hockey.
For the word nerds, there’s ample enjoyment to be had from a massive wall that is a Scrabble board. For those wishing to simply relax and
immerse themselves in this beautiful home, the kitchen day bed is perfect for basking in the afternoon sun with a glass of wine.
From $3,702 per weekend (minimum two-night stay)
The Barn at Tinkersfield, halfway between Thredbo and Jindabyne, is perfect for families of skiers and non-skiers.
The Barn at Tinkersfield, Crackenback
Nestled in Crackenback Valley, Tinkersfield is halfway between Thredbo and Jindabyne, so a perfect compromise for skiers and nonskiers
in the same family.
The Tinkersfield experience is holistic, with guests staying in the six extraordinary and unique eco Field Houses or at the popular Post Office and Barn.
The accommodation is custom-designed, restored and built to combine ethically sourced materials, antique furniture and handmade artisan pieces, creating relaxed, comfortable and inspiring spaces.
Year-round, Tinkersfield hosts an array of spectacular and diverse events such as cooking classes and makers artisan classes, as well as inspirational workshops.
From $820 per night
Barrakee Ski Lodge boasts an enviable location just 50 metres from the North Perisher T-Bar.
Barrakee Ski Lodge, Perisher
It’s the location that makes Barrakee the place to stay. This hidden gem has an incredible ski-in, ski-out location just 50 metres from the North Perisher T-Bar. The Interceptor Quad Chair is also close by and offers access to all of Perisher’s ski fields.
The atmosphere is convivial and perfect for a laid-back family holiday. Start the day with a fully cooked breakfast, while evenings mean warming your hands by the log fire before enjoying a three-course meal.
Other guest facilities include a sauna, squash court, wireless internet access and a big-screen television/DVD lounge with stunning views of Perisher.
$350 per night
The Stables offers 33 elegant apartments in the heart of the Perisher Valley.
The Stables, Perisher
The Stables is poised among the snow gums in the heart of Perisher Valley. Featuring 33 elegant apartments with superb views over both the valley and the surrounding alpine region, The Stables Resort Perisher is the perfect contemporary accommodation for your snow holiday.