Our top 5 Southern Hemisphere ski destinations
Cardrona (New Zealand): Number 1 for freestyle
Cardrona has grown over the past 35 years into one of the country’s most popular destinations and sits only 35 minutes above the buzzing lakeside town of Wanaka. Most visitors are drawn to the resort for the world class freestyle facilities. There are no fewer than four terrain parks, two halfpipes, a big air jump and a boardercross course – unsurprisingly this setup attracts some of the world’s best athletes for their summer training camps. However do not overlook Cardrona if freestyle isn’t your thing, as the long runs and varied terrain offer something for everyone and the Lord of the Rings-esque scenery is truly spectacular.
Portillo (Chile): For that once-in-a-lifetime trip
For that extra special trip, head to the iconic Chilean resort of Portillo. The resort’s only, and uniquely bright yellow, hotel takes 450 guests and daily lift passes are limited, ensuring the 8m of annual snowfall often stays untracked for days. Lift queues are unheard of, the service at the hotel is impeccable and you may well end up rubbing shoulders with top athletes from the world of alpine ski racing and freeriding in the bar later in the evening. Powderhounds flock to Portillo for the endless off piste options, served by the resort’s unique slingshot Va et Vient Poma lifts and some of the best heliskiing in the world, let alone in the Andes.
Las Lenas (Argentina): The off-piste king
Arguably Argentina’s top ski destination, Las Lenas is renowned across the world for its incredible lift-served off piste terrain, served by the famous Marte Chair. Descents of over 1,000 vertical metres in virgin powder are the norm here rather than the exception, but be sure to hire a guide to experience the best Las Lenas has to offer. The purpose built resort has a real buzz about it, particularly on a powder day and during the Argentine and Brazilian holidays in July when the resort hosts some pretty legendary nightlife; often not kicking off until 2am and running through until sunrise.
Mt Ruapehu (New Zealand): For skiing on an active volcano…
Mt Ruapehu’s location alone is enough to warrant a visit, with spectacular landscapes and volcanic activity at every turn. Add to that the two world-class ski areas of Turoa and Whakapapa that sit on the volcano’s flank and you have a unique and truly special holiday destination. The resorts possess the biggest area of lift served terrain, the longest vertical descent, the highest lift served point and the longest lasting season of anywhere in New Zealand – consistently ranking both amongst the most popular in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere. Although the last eruption was as recently as 1995/1996, regular monitoring ensures the ski areas remain safe – so certainly don’t be put you off from having the chance to ski on a still-active volcano.
What’s more, if you want to hike the backcountry, you can climb to the summit of this beauty and ski towards the crater lake. A true adventure for the dare-devils among us.
Perisher (Australia): The best all-rounder
Australia’s largest resort now boasts 47 lifts, more than 100 marked trails, the most terrain parks in the country and 3,076 acres of skiing (more than Winter Park or Breckenridge in the USA). Although natural snowfall may not be as bountiful as other places in the world, with such a variety of terrain on offer and the unique experience of skiing through gum trees, Perisher is one of the best skiing options in the Southern Hemisphere. Combine your visit with a stay in either Melbourne (7 hours drive) or Sydney (5 hours drive) – two of the most vibrant cities in the world.