The alpine regions of Australia are found mainly in the two states of New South Wales and Victoria. There's a beauty to skiing the snow gums of Australia knowing you won't find these eucalyptus trees on any other ski field in the world.
The Southern Alps of New Zealand provide some seriously fine skiing and boarding with 500 kilometres of mountain ranges splitting the South Island from north to south like a spine. The majority of the commercial ski fields are found around the alpine tourist resort town of Queenstown, which sits on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and is more suited to the Swiss Alps than antipodean lands.
Let's begin in Australia.
You'll find the Kosciusko National Park Six hours drive south of Sydney. Thredbo, Perisher, and Charlotte Pass are found within this region. Thredbo resort's 480 hectares and 672 metres of vertical are served by a swanky old school village with all the modern conveniences. Thredbo is considered the elite mountain of Australia.
Perisher is the largest ski resort in Australia and New Zealand with almost 1500 hectares of skiable terrain. The resort has over 50 lifts, which can mean a fair bit of traversing, but it's very family friendly with a plethora of intermediate terrain.
Nearby sits Charlotte Pass, the country's highest ski resort, a small ski area accessible by snow cat from Perisher. It's quaint, old fashioned, and lots of fun for families. Similarly, Selwyn Snowfields, also close by, is a mere 45 hectares, but a great place to learn to ski.
Further south in Victoria sits Mt. Hotham and Falls Creek, owned by the same company and linked by a helicopter ride. Falls Creek is the prettiest alpine village in the country, pedestrian only, and completely ski in, ski out. Hotham village sits on the top of the mountain, meaning skiing down to the first lift of the day.
Melbournites frequent Mt. Buller, a mere three-hour drive from the city. The mountain is known for it's social scene, ski in, ski out chalets, ski clubs and alpine academy. There's 25 lifts and 260 hectares with an even mix of terrain across all standards and some good advanced terrain to challenge the thighs.
Mt Baw Baw is even closer to Melbourne, 160 kilometres east of the city. There are 30 hectares of beginner and intermediate fun with about 10 percent dedicated to the advanced skier.
On to New Zealand with some seriously fine skiing and riding in what's known affectionately as the 'Southern Alps.'
Four ski resorts sit within driving distance of Queenstown. The Remarkables and Coronet Peak are both part of the NZ Ski stable of resorts with Mt Hutt in the Canterbury Region near Christchurch in the north of the South Island.
Coronet Peak's 280 acres of skiable terrain is 25 minutes from town. It is known as the locals mountain, so expect crowds early morning before everyone goes to work.
If you can handle the winding precarious access road to The Remarkables 220 hectares, you'll be rewarded with spectacular alpine views and a quirky ski field that is home to Burton's The Stash, a natural terrain run with eco obstacles.
Cardrona sits between Queenstown and Wanaka in the Crown Ranges. It hosts the FIS World Cup for snowboarding and has world class catering facilities with sushi bar, juice bar, pizza bar, and cafeteria. Cardrona is 320 hectares and is one of the very few resorts in New Zealand where you can stay on mountain.
Snow Park is opposite Cardrona and is an internationally recognized terrain park resort with a permanent quarter pipe, a super pipe, a triple jump line, and forty rails and jumps.
Down the road past Wanaka, Treble Cone mountain resort markets itself as the skier's mountain with more than 500 hectares of terrain and 700 meters of vertical.
The Canterbury Region of the South Island sits around the city of Christchurch. Kiwi clubfields are private members-run ski fields open to the public. They're basic with nutcracker rope tows often run by tractors but are exceptional lift accessed backcountry experiences.
Mt. Hutt is served by the small town of Methven. This is the best ski and snowboard mountain in New Zealand on a good day. However, the resort earns the nickname "Mt. Shut" on a bad day. It gets more snow than the resorts down near Queenstown, has 360 hectares of skiable terrain and another 150 of inbound backcountry and a fantastic transition between the levels.
Mt. Potts is an hour from Mt. Hutt and was originally a cat ski operation. It re-launched this year as HeliPark, a unique heli ski experience designed for those wishing to try heli skiing for the first time or for ski and snowboard pros wanting photo shoots. Guests pay per run rather than half or whole day and, if they're prepared, to hike and get in some extra ‘free' runs.
The North Island boasts the country's largest ski areas, the combined fields of Whakapapa and Turoa that make up Mt. Ruapehu, an active volcano four hours drive from Auckland. Together, they boast 1050 hectares of skiable terrain.
Australia? New Zealand? Take your pick for skiing and riding with the North American and European worlds are at the beach.