Kosciuszko National Park
The spectacular now
Yes, it’s home to Australia’s highest peak, but that’s not all: Kosciuszko National Park offers travellers a whole world of spectacular to explore. Three ski resorts (and a fourth currently being rebuilt) are the centre of human activity here: ski or snowboard the country’s highest runs, or test your legs on a cross-country skiing odyssey. Take on big-challenge walks, saddle up and ride the High Plains, explore caves, or just find a people-free lookout and simply breathe in the beauty and tranquillity.
As the snow melts in spring and pristine waters flow into mountain streams, the winter wonderland of Thredbo, Perisher, Charlotte Pass and Mount Selwyn changes into alpine trails for bushwalking, hiking and mountain biking.
Hiking & bushwalking
Walk to Australia’s highest point, the summit of Mount Kosciuszko - at an elevation of 2,228 metres - for a stunning panorama of the beautiful Australian Alps and beyond. You can begin this exhilarating journey from either Thredbo or Charlotte Pass.
The quickest way is to take Thredbo’s Kosciuszko Express Chairlift to the Kosciuszko walk, which is 13km return or four to five hours. The longer Charlotte Pass summit walk is 18.6km return or six to eight hours.
Pretty wildflowers such as golden-stemmed billy buttons, silver daisies and marsh marigolds blanket swathes of the Snowy Mountains in summer. On the Goldseekers track, near the mesmerising Wallace Creek lookout, you can spot endangered pygmy possums in hollow old snow gums.
Other great walking tracks include Main Range in a UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve. Or Porcupine walk, a short, family-friendly walking track at Perisher.
At the northern end of the national park is the Yarrangobilly Caves, which are filled with wondrous formations. The limestone dates back 440 million years. Bring your swimmers, as nearby you can take a rejuvenating dip in a thermal pool of naturally heated spring waters rising from the depths.
The crystal-clear rivers of Kosciuszko National Park are perfect for fly fishing and kayaking, and there are plenty of trails for mountain biking and horse riding.
Accommodation in Kosciuszko National Park
You’ll find accommodation options to suit various budgets, from youth hostels to hotels, inns, apartments, lodges and chalets. Alternatively, you can stay outside the park in the surrounding areas of Jindabyne, Cooma, Tumut and Tumbarumba.
You’ll find more information as well as downloadable maps on the NSW National Parks app guide.
When the weather turns cold, Kosciuszko National Park transforms into a winter wonderland, with skiers and snowboarders flocking to the slopes of ski resorts Perisher, Thredbo and Charlotte Pass. Selwyn Snow Resort is set to reopen for the 2023 snow season, which generally runs between the June and October long weekends, with the best snow in July and August.
Perisher is the largest snow resort in the Southern Hemisphere, made up of four linked resorts – Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Guthega and Blue Cow. With 47 lifts and 1,245 hectares of snowy playground to ski and ride on, there’s little chance of getting bored. Cross-country skiers are also well catered for at Perisher, with over 100 kilometres of mountain trails to explore.
The pretty alpine village of Thredbo hugs the mountainside with a range of lodges, hotels and apartments as well as restaurants and bars. Thredbo also has Australia’s first alpine gondola, which whisks skiers, snowboarders and sightseers up to the Cruiser area, a playground for beginners, and the popular Merritts restaurant. Catch the Karels T-bar up to the country’s highest lifted point and make sure you ring the bell when you get there.
Charlotte Pass is the highest ski resort in Australia and may well be the prettiest. Completely snowbound, the only way to get there is by oversnow transport from Perisher Valley, so there are no cars, no crowds and no hassles. It might be small, with only five lifts and 19 runs, but Charlotte Pass caters to all levels and has a fairy-tale quality about it - in part due to the beautiful Kosciuszko Chalet Hotel, built in 1930 and known as the ‘Grand Old Lady of the Mountains.’
Selwyn Snow Resort is a family-friendly ski resort, popular with beginners. After closing to visitors in 2020 due to severe bushfire damage, the resort has been extensively rebuilt and is set for a grand reopening for the 2023 snow season. Offering gentle varied slopes and a new expanded snow park for tubing and tobogganing, the family-run resort also has a snowmaking system and 45 hectares of skiable terrain.
Things to do in Kosciuszko National Park
Ski and snowboard under the stars with the popular night skiing at Perisher and Charlotte Pass. Thredbo also has its iconic Flare Run and Saturday fireworks spectacular. Early risers with a penchant for untouched, perfectly-groomed runs can do First Tracks and at the end of the day, you can do a Groomer Tour at Perisher and Charlotte Pass. For those wanting a challenge, there are backcountry tours at Perisher and Thredbo to try.
Off the snow, head for the heated indoor pool, bouldering wall and kids play area at Thredbo Leisure Centre, or marvel at the long and colourful history of Thredbo at its excellent Alpine Museum. You can also head up the mountain by gondola or snowcat for excellent dining experiences at Merritts Mountain House and Kareela Hutte.
Further afield, Yarrangobilly Caves is at the northern end of the national park. The limestone dates back 440 million years and the formations in the six caves are mesmerising. Bring your swimmers, as nearby you can take a rejuvenating dip in a thermal pool of naturally heated spring waters.
Driving in the national park
If driving into Kosciuszko National Park in a 2WD vehicle, you will need to carry snow chains in winter. You will also need to pay an entry fee. Consider purchasing a digital annual pass, which allows you to access all fee-paying national parks in NSW. You can get these from the National Parks and Wildlife Service website before you arrive. Annual passes are not available for purchase at the park entry gates.
For the latest information on what you can and can't do in Kosciuszko National Park during the 2023 ski season, check the National Parks and Wildlife Service local alerts.