New Zealand ski season: Australian ski buffs spoiled for alternative as New Zealand drops COVID checks


As Australian ski resorts cope with two years of pent-up home demand, with many resorts absolutely booked over July and August, New Zealand’s ski fields are giving Australians a second probability at a snowy getaway.

On Thursday, COVID-19 Minister Ayesha Verrall introduced New Zealand’s pre-departure testing regime could be axed for all arrivals as of Tuesday, June 21, simply in time for the height July ski interval.

The authorities’s shift strains up with the opening of the New Zealand ski season, with lifts turning sooner than ordinary at some South Island resorts following a big snow dump final week.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash stated journey would now be simpler and cheaper.

“For those people overseas who have been dreaming of international travel, my message is simple: New Zealand is open, and we’re ready to welcome you,” Nash stated.

New Zealand was the most well-liked vacation spot nation for Australians in April, following its reopening, accounting for 12 per cent of all resident returns (34,380 journeys), in response to Australian Bureau of Statistics knowledge.That’s a rise of 365 per cent from the earlier month, although nonetheless considerably lower than pre-pandemic numbers.

Andrew Waddel, Tourism New Zealand’s basic supervisor Australia, stated the nation is raring to welcome Australians again this winter.

“Prior to COVID-19, 71 per cent of all international arrivals who skied were Australian, stayed an average of 10 days and spent 50 per cent of their time on the mountain,” stated Waddel.

“Since the border reopening was announced, the 24 ski resorts and many more tourism operators across both the North Island and South Island have been preparing for the arrival of international visitors, so we encourage Australians looking to head over to start planning now”.

Having pre-departure testing faraway from June 21 will even be a game-changer for tourism operators, in response to NZSki chief govt Paul Anderson.

“We expect to see Australian visitation increase as airline connectivity builds in the coming months. Locally we have been really well supported throughout the pandemic and we have seen that again this season with passholder uptake,” stated Anderson.

Tim Barke, Lake Wanaka Tourism basic supervisor, stated that up till Thursday’s announcement, there has solely been a “trickle” of Australian guests, however he expects that may improve.

“Feedback from offshore wholesalers and retailers and inbound tour operators has been that the testing requirements have been a significant barrier to booking. They have had a lot of enquiries but have found it difficult to convert these into bookings,” Barke stated.

New Zealand tourism operators face comparable employees shortages to their Australian counterparts although. “There’s an open invitation if Aussies want to come over and spend the winter here and have a working holiday. There’s heaps of opportunity for them, it’s quite a cool way to be able to live the lifestyle and do more than a week or two, and pick up some extra skills at the same time,” stated Barke.

In one other word of warning, Barke stated fewer seats and better airfares, together with a insecurity in lengthy haul journey, meant it might take so long as 4 years for enterprise in his area to return to pre-COVID ranges.

All the identical, Qantas is already reporting a surge in demand for Queenstown flights.

“Qantas’ capacity into Queenstown will be sitting above pre-COVID levels from July onwards,” an airline spokesperson stated. “We’ve added further flights to Queenstown for the July and September school holiday periods in response to the strong demand.”

While the sunshine shines brightest on the ski fields round Queenstown and Wanaka, there’s way more scope than that within the New Zealand snow fields, with 24 membership and industrial fields unfold between the 2 islands.

Mount Dobson ski patroller and teacher, Archie Chisholm, stated Australians should not restrict themselves to the better-known, larger ski fields.

“I reckon the real hidden gem is the Mackenzie region in south Canterbury [south of Christchurch]. The fields here have such an amazing atmosphere and a huge range of terrain suitable for anyone and everyone,” he stated.

While the South Island ski season tends to run from mid-June to October, the North Island season begins and finishes a bit later. Mount Ruapehu, south-west of Lake Taupo, is famend for its late-season spring snowboarding.

Mount Ruapehu chief working officer Travis Donoghue stated: “My advice would be for Australians to come from August onwards for the best snow and to think about visiting us on weekdays, lift tickets are just $NZ84 (A$75) Monday to Friday.”

with AAP​