Report: Skiing in the Southern Hemisphere

Our picks of the southern hemisphere’s most enticing ski resorts will have you polishing your skis and coordinating your skiwear in readiness for a great season.Words Victoria Tait

CERRO CATEDRAL, ARGENTINA
Located in Argentina’s Patagonia Lake District, Cerro Catedral is one of the largest ski areas in South America, with stunning scenery in both the village and on the mountain itself. Translating to Cathedral Hill, its name was presumably inspired by the dramatic rock peaks
that crown the mountain’s summit. It has diverse terrain offerings – from tree skiing to a number of off-piste or unmarked options – across its 607 skiable hectares, providing slopes for every level of confidence and experience. It’s also one of the most developed ski areas
in South America, making it a good choice for families or travelling groups.
Terrain: 17% of its trails are beginner runs, 35% serve intermediates, and a large portion caters to more skilled skiers: 26% of runs are advanced, and 22% are for
experts only. Après-ski: There is no lack of nightlife, with a diverse range of bars, restaurants, dance clubs and even a casino. There are also a variety of lodging options, meaning the mountain can cater to all tastes and budgets.
When to go: June to mid-October
Level: Family
Details: www.catedralaltapatagonia.com

THREDBO RESORT, AUSTRALIA
Situated in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, Thredbo Resort caters to everyone due to its extensive mix of trails, which vary from beginner slopes to some of the longest runs in Australia. Thredbo is known for its family-orientated feel and offers a special ski-school service for children; allowing them to gain confidence on the slopes in safety, while also giving them the chance to make friends and play. Family programmes are also available, as are snowboarding lessons and snow biking experiences. The resort also offers the largest snowmaking system in the southern hemisphere, guaranteeing a long and reliable ski season.
Terrain: There are over 50 trails spanning nearly 202 hectares of skiing, including terrain parks for skiers and riders of all levels.
Après-ski: Thredbo is a full-service resort complete with lodging accommodation, shopping, and many restaurant options. There are also lots of nightlife options, including the famous Schuss Bar which features live comedy, highenergy music, and themed ‘locals’ nights.
When to go: End of July to mid-September
Level: Family
Details: www.thredbo.com.au

PORTILLO, CHILE
Located two hours north-east of Santiago and just 5km from the Argentinian border, Portillo is often the first place that comes to mind for southern hemisphere skiing. Portillo is one of the oldest resorts in the area, and part of its rich history includes hosting several World
Championship skiing competitions – the only southern hemisphere country to do so. The trails tend to be uncrowded, and Portillo’s high elevation – 3310m at the highest point – lends to dry powder that makes for some great turns.
Terrain: Portillo is also accessible by heli-skiing, and its 526 skiable hectares are broken down as 15% beginner, 30% intermediate, 30% advanced, and 25% expert.
Après-ski: Portillo does not have a resort town. The focus is on skiing, and skiing only, which is one of the reasons it’s a popular place for world-class skiers to train. Portillo’s main lodging option is the famous yellow hotel, which is often heralded as a hallmark of the
mountain.                                                                                                                     When to go: June to mid-October
Level: Family/Experienced
Details: www.skiportillo.com

TREBLE CONE RESORT, NEW ZEALAND
Situated on Lake Wanaka, Treble Cone is the largest ski area in the South Island. The terrain covers two basins – the Saddle and Home Basin, with fans of steep and challenging terrain that Treble Cone claims as some of the best in the country. Although Treble Cone has quite the reputation for hardcore skiers, the resort has recently made an effort to appeal to families. With plenty of childcare facilities and kids clubs available, parents can tackle the steep slopes while children are taken care of.
Terrain: 550 hectares, with beginner slopes covering 10%, intermediate 45%, and advanced 45% of the skiable area.
Après-ski: While Treble Cone does not have its own town or village, Wanaka is only a short drive away. On the field, there is the Base Lodge Sun Deck which offers made-to-order burgers and pizzas, as well as a café, bar, and sun deck. The base also houses a medical centre, snow sports school, snow rental shop, childcare centre (3-6 years), and retail shops.
When to go: July-September
Level: Family
Details: www.treblecone.com

CRAIGIEBURN VALLEY, NEW ZEALAND
Located in the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, Cragieburn Valley Ski Area is not for the faint-hearted, or even beginners for that matter, as the terrains are intended for experienced skiers and riders. Cragieburn Valley is varied, exciting, and challenging with the infamous 600m vertical descent of Middle Basin – which is often compared to a heli-skiing experience – accessible by way of an easy traverse from the tow.                                                           Terrain: Covers 400 hectres and is split almost equally between intermediate and expert, with a breakdown of 0% beginner, 55% intermediate, and 45% advanced/ expert.
Après-ski: With a classic club field, entertainment options are relaxed and simple. The day lodge, located near the top of the mountain, serves hot food and fresh coffee. There are two overnight lodges – Koroheke and Matuhi – tucked away just below treeline.
When to go: July-October
Level: Experienced
Details: www.craigieburn.co.nz

ROUNDHILL, NEW ZEALAND
Roundhill is a family ski field with stunning views of Aoraki Mt Cook, the Southern Alps and Lake Tekapo. The learners’ slope is fantastic for little ones as it features a platter lift and two beginners’ rope tows, while, for intermediate skiers, there are two T-bars that provide access to trails with lots of natural dips and curves. If you are seeking something more adventurous,
Roundhill is home to Australasia’s largest vertical drop at a vertigo-inducing 783m, and also plays host to the longest and steepest rope tow in the world. Terrain: Its size has increased significantly in recent years from 60 to approximately 600 skiable hectares, making it one of the largest New Zealand ski resorts. This expansion was brought about by the addition of
the record-breaking Heritage Express Rope Tow, and has also allowed for the incorporation of an advanced area to what was a beginner/intermediate field.                                                 Après-ski: The ski field facilities and services are somewhat basic, but more than adequate for the essentials. The day lodge has a licenced café, and many visitors bring along a chilly bin with their own food and drink and set up deck chairs. The Von Brown Hut is a fabulous spot for après-ski drinks.
When to go: July-October
Level: Family
Details: www.roundhill.co.nz

THE REMARKABLES, NEW ZEALAND
The Remarkables easily claims the top spot when it comes to family skiing in the southern hemisphere, due to its relaxed Kiwi atmosphere and less commercialised feel. This laid-back feeling extends to the less-crowded ski field and makes it a great environment in which to learn the basics and gain confidence. There are a wide range of activities on offer, including snow tubing, and as an added bonus, kids under the age of 10 get to ski for free. What’s more, The Remarkables gets better snow cover than its southern neighbours, ensuring a long season and plenty of opportunities for experienced skiiers and snowboarders to make the most of the advanced trails and off-piste areas. The beautiful surroundings make for a great way to spend time off the slopes as well, with the mountain range bordering the picturesque Lake Wakatipu, and the ski field being less than a 45 minute drive from Queenstown.
For the ultimate memorable experience, make the most of the heli-skiing opportunities The Remarkables offers by taking in the scenery from above before taking to the slopes.
Terrain: The ski field covers 220 hectares, split into 30% beginner runs, 40% intermediate, and 30% advanced.
Après-ski: There is a fully-licensed café, bar and Snack Shack on the snow. Keep an eye out for events over the season and the stunning village of Queenstown is a mere 20-minute drive away.
When to go: July-October
Level: Family
Details: www.nzski.com

 

Comment