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Advice needed 3 Peak Season Pass

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by DidSurfNowSki, Feb 12, 2020.

  1. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki One of them Ski Pass: Gold

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    OK, for a quite a few years I've said I've wanted to ski across the ditch and this year I've committed to a 3 Peak Season Pass; ie Mt Hutt, The Remarkables and Coronet Peak.

    I've also got a new boss and I need to weave into my first meeting with him tomorrow the fact that my annual leave is about to be maxxed out, I need to take leave and I need to take that leave to go skiing in NZ this winter...

    I've never been on a holiday to NZ.

    So I'm looking for the following advice, assuming flights from Sydney:

    1. When should I look at going (multiple trips, outside of school holidays, best snow etc ?)
    2. How long does a good 'surgical strike' ski trip take ? I'm going over there to ski not tour Lord of the Rings film locations or to count sheep...
    3. Where should I base myself for cheap and cheerful ?
    4. Where should I fly to for access to Mt Hutt and The Remarkables / Coronet Peak?
    5. Any airline sales worth keeping track of ?
    6. What's the best way up and down the hill(s) ?

    Thanks in advance,
    DSNS
     
  2. Peanut

    Peanut One of Us

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    I’ve been over to NZ for the last 3 winters and will be going again this winter. I travel with my family and we go over for a good chunk of the July school holidays. I’m lead to believe August is a much better time than July, but I’m a teacher and I have two children at school, so getting 10 days of paid leave during a school term isn’t going to happen. We have only skied at The Remarkables, so I can’t really advise about Mt Hutt.

    For Mt Hutt, you’ll want to fly into Christchurch, then base yourself out of Methven. For The Remarkables and Coronet Peak, you can fly directly into Queenstown. Flights into Queenstown tend to be a bit more expensive. We ski at The Remarkables because both of my boys need access to adaptive instructors (both have autism), and the adaptive instructors are based out of Remarks. Of the two Queenstown NZSki fields, Remarks seems to consistently have better snow conditions.

    If I were going by myself and looking to do a quick trip, I’d probably go to Queenstown because the mountains are closer to the airport. I’d look at flying out on the Friday and flying back on the Monday. If you were planning on driving yourself up the mountain in Queenstown, you could get an early flight in from Sydney, pick up the hire car and drive straight up from there and get a good part of the day on the mountain. Otherwise, NZSki run regular shuttle buses up the mountain throughout the day that stop at all the major bus routes along the main road up to the mountain. You have to pre-pay online, then flag the bus down when it approaches. In a family situation, we find it easier to hire a car and drive up. The downside to it as a single is that cars with multiple passengers get priority on the carparks closest to the base building. There is a free shuttle bus that runs between the lower car parks and the base building though. The other thing that some singles (usually people in their late teens/early 20s) do is try to hitch a ride up with a single that is driving. They tend to hang around the bus stop in Frankton.

    We have always stayed at a place called Sherwood. It’s halfway along the road between Frankton (where the airport is) and downtown Queenstown. The advantage is that it’s cheap, comfortable and not in the centre of town, so away from the party crowd. The staff are all really friendly and are a great source of info. The downside is that if you want to eat anywhere other than the restaurant on-site (which is lovely - do recommend), you have to get the extra few km into town. There’s probably places in town that are cheaper if you are travelling as a single and want something ultra budget.

    The airlines that fly into Queenstown are Air NZ, Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia. The airport at Queenstown only has international flights from Australia and is actually a fairly small airport. It’s probably only slightly larger than Newcastle Airport. You get a lot more options of airline choice if you go into Christchurch. We flew back with Emirates last year for about $1000 one way (2 adults, 2 children). I managed to pick up flights on sale for SYD-CHC return for $1400 for the four of us. From memory, they went on sale in early November last year. Having said that, I paid for the CHC-SYD flight last year about 6 weeks before we went over, so if you keep your eye out, there are some good prices to be had. If you are travelling outside of school holidays, the prices tend to be better as well.

    If you have any other questions, I’m happy to answer them.
     
    oldgeezer, nezumi, dawooduck and 2 others like this.
  3. Jacko4650

    Jacko4650 One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    Very comprehensive. Great work Peanut.
     
    DidSurfNowSki and Peanut like this.
  4. Peanut

    Peanut One of Us

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    I love NZ and had so much trouble finding info when I was planning my first trip, so I like to share what I’ve learnt over the years.
     
    nezumi, DidSurfNowSki and Jacko4650 like this.
  5. DidSurfNowSki

    DidSurfNowSki One of them Ski Pass: Gold

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    @Donzah, if I wanted to do a Christchurch -> Mt Hutt -> Queenstown -> CP / Remarks -> Queenstown -> Christchurch loop.

    How many days would that take if you toss in some skiing ???
     
  6. Donzah

    Donzah Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    Just my two cents ... But in Mid august . By yourself..... just wing it. Accomodation wise. The drive itself is 6-7 hours or so We stop a fair bit for scenary. Its not hard. However you want to be travelling when the snow is so so.. NZ gets weather and wind before most cold fronts. The dreaded NW can sock in places in Canters . Thats the day to drive to QT.
    If you wanted to combine the drive with skiing . There are some fun hills between Methven and QT.
    Eg you could ski Hutt till just after lunch. Drive to Tekapo. Stay the night. Ski roundhill ... Drive to QT
     
    DidSurfNowSki and MisterMxyzptlk like this.
  7. RCN

    RCN Hard Yards

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    Managed 5 trips southern winter 2019 to NZ (2 to Mt Hutt, 3 to Queenstown).

    The NSW/NZ school holidays ends 19 July 2020, and the best snow will be around mid August, so I would aim for August.

    For Queenstown, I found staying near the airport (Frankton) in a serviced apartment very convenient. $200/night for a modern 1 bedder with kitchen + laundry, next door to a large supermarket + shops, and an easy drive to town (eg late night Fergburger). Right in between Concrete and Remarks, so you can decide the same day (depending on weather + your mood) on where to go.

    Get a rental car from the the airport, this gives your great flexibility, also I find the shuttle buses not that cheap. This also allows you to ski the morning if you are catching an evening flight back to Australia. Rental companies have the option to add in snow chains, though it might be cheaper to pick it up yourself seperately.

    Access roads wise, coronet is fully sealed all the way up, with safety barriers, so its an easy drive. Remarks can be more challenging, with the last few kms (just before carpark 4) unsealed. I recommend getting a 4WD, as during snowy days this allows you access to carpark 1 (nearest the the base, capacity allowing), thereby avoiding the need to take the shuttle bus from 4 (1.5km away from the base). The drive up Mt Hutt is the most challenging amongst the NZSki resorts, observe the 40km/h speed limit, and 4WD very highly recommended, as well as bringing a groundsheet + gloves for fitting chains. Road is unsealed all the way up, with some steep and narrow sections.

    Given Mt Hutt is very exposed (at the edge of the range), wind is often an issue. I find it a little too high risk for a short trip (can be closed days in a row, but overall a longer season and more snow than down south. ). That being said, flights to Christchurch is significantly cheaper and more frequent than to Queenstown. There are daily late evening arrivals from the east coast capitals to Christchurch, and if travelling solo, overnighting at the backpackers besides the airport (walking distance), before picking up a rental car early next morning for the drive up the mountain, is what I usually do. Methven is the usual place to stay, and also much cheaper than Queenstown, but completely lacking in character/nightlife/restaurants in comparison. For short trips, flight schedules for Chirstchuch make Mt Hutt more feasible than Queenstown. E.g, take Friday and Monday off, depart Thursday night, ski Friday to Monday, depart CHC Tuesday morning, be back in the office (East Coast capital city) before 9am.

    Flight schedules dont tend to allow for same day skiiing on arrival to Queenstown (NZSki hours are 9am to 4pm), unless doing night ski at Coronet (Wed/Fri/Sat) in the middle of the season, so take into account a full (non skiing) travel day. I would look at using frequent flyer points (Qantas/Jetstar/Virgin) for Queenstown as it represents good value for usually pricey revenue fares (in comparison to other NZ destinations).

    Cheers
     
    Untele-whippet likes this.