The premier southern hemisphere destination for powder hunters, New Zealand has a strong reputation for off-piste and backcountry riding. Here is a quick selection of the better places in New Zealand at which to work a winter season.
5. Mt Hutt, Canterbury
Mt Hutt is the biggest resort in the Canterbury region of New Zealand. The beauty about working at Mt Hutt is that you have easy access to the myriad club fields in the Canterbury region, in addition to the nice terrain beginner and intermediate terrain at Mt Hutt. The Canterbury club fields are famed for their backcountry riding.
The snow is among the best in New Zealand due to its height, even if the weather gets a little gnarly from time to time.
The town of Methven is very close by and, while not in the same league as Queenstown or Wanaka, it has a super chilled vibe and is much cheaper than those other towns. On the other hand, if you are willing to splash out, Methven is home to the best heli-skiing companies down under.
4. Whakapapa/Turoa, Mt Ruapehu
Pronounced ‘fukka puppa’, the Whakapapa/Turoa resorts lie on different sides of the active Mt Ruapehu volcano. Ruapehu is the highest mountain on NZ’s northern island, and consequently the most popular for Auckland and Wellington riders.
The resort is entirely above the tree-line, resulting in wide-open bowls, chutes and drop-offs, and occasional gnarly weather. The high elevation means there is generally a decent snow-pack, which can lead to excellent spring riding conditions.
The nightlife is smaller than at Queenstown and Wanaka, but the local vibe is very friendly and there are some cool events throughout the season.
3. Treble Cone, Otago
For truly technical lines and advanced pitches, Treble Cone is the place to go. To that you can add spectacular views over Lake Wanaka and the fact that as a seasonal worker you will live in the town of Wanaka which is the second most lively ski town in NZ after Queenstown.
With only 10% of the terrain rated for beginners, Treble Cone is the resort to work at if you wish to push yourself a little to improve over the course of the season.
2. Wanaka, Otago
Wanaka is not in fact a ski resort, but rather the base for two resorts in the area – Treble Cone and Cardrona. It is the gateway to the Mount Aspiring National Park which ensures a steady stream of tourists year-round.
Wanaka is surely one of the most chilled out towns on the planet, with the locals always happy for a yarn about the conditions up on the mountains and the best local powder stashes.
Given the nightlife is fun but lacks the intensity of Queenstown, Wanaka is a great place to look for a job if you want access to excellent terrain, you want to be able to have a night out occasionally during the season, but you don’t want the intensity of Queenstown.
You are likely to bump into your friends and workmates all over Wanaka, so always have some good stories on hand about the latest crazy trick you pulled up on the mountain!
1. Queenstown, Otago
Undoubtedly New Zealand’s premier ski resort town, Queenstown brings in seasonal workers from all over the world each season. The major nearby resorts are Coronet Peak and The Remarkables, each of which has a distinct flavour, but plenty of nice terrain and park for seasonal workers to rip throughout the season.
In addition, there is an enormous bar and après ski scene at Queenstown, with an expansive selection of after-work drinking holes, food and places to catch a few beats. Queenstown is one of the bigger ski resort party towns in the world.
Queenstown also stays alive in summer as one of the world’s best extreme sports destinations, so there is always the option to stay on for summer (and then come back again in winter!).
If you like action, snow, backcountry and nightlife, Queenstown could be the place for you.