Skiing & Snowboarding Tips for Beginners

Skiing and snowboarding are two of the most fun activities on the planet, but any trip to the snow requires preparation. For first timers to Thredbo, Perisher or Charlotte Pass, it can be a little daunting, but we are here to help.

Family purchasing their ski passes at the Perisher ticket office in Perisher, Snowy Mountains

Plan, plan & plan ahead

You will need to buy your lift passes before you travel, especially if you are planning to ski on peak weekends or during school holidays. There are day, week and season passes available at all three resorts, so you can find an option that works for you and your budget.

Before you book accommodation, consider whether you’d like to stay on snow or save money by staying in a nearby town. While it may cost more, staying on snow is convenient, as it means more time on the snow, no driving and, if you have kids, less drama. Wherever you stay you’ll need to book early.

First day of Winter at Moonbah Huts in Jindabyne,  Snowy Mountains

If you are skiing at Perisher or Charlotte Pass, remember to book the Skitube which runs from Bullocks Flat to Perisher and Blue Cow. You can leave your car in the car park. When driving, you have to carry snow chains in any 2WD car within Kosciuszko National Park. You also have to purchase a pass to access the park. Consider buying a digital annual pass, which allows entry to all the national parks in NSW, from the NPWS website before you arrive. Annual passes are not available for purchase at the park entry gates. Most importantly, drive to the conditions, as visibility can be low and roads icy.

Young girl learning how to ski with an instructor at Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains

Back to school

Lessons are the best way to learn, or progress, no matter what your level. If you have kids, it is even more important as parents teaching their own kids can get a little gnarly. Leave it to the experts. All resorts have their own snow schools which offer private and group lessons. Book ahead to make sure you don’t miss out.

Children enjoying a fun day in the snow at Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains

Gear up

For first timers, you can hire skis, snowboards, jackets, pants, boots and helmets from rental shops on the mountain or in Jindabyne and Cooma. It can be better to hire on the mountain, as it’s more convenient if you need to swap something over or get a different size, however it can be more expensive. You will need to buy or borrow goggles, ski gloves and ski socks, and remember to pack a beanie, snow boots for walking around off the snow, sunnies, lip balm and sunscreen.

On the snow, layers are the key. Sensible layering starts with good thermals that keep you warm and wick away moisture from the skin. Avoid cotton. Then add a long sleeve shirt and a mid-layer to go under your jacket for colder days. Check the forecast the night before and in the morning before you head up the lifts – wind usually equates to cold, so keep that in mind. Ensure you have a trail map in your pocket, some emergency snacks (like energy bars) drink plenty of water and head inside when you get too cold.

Mother and daughter enjoying the warm fireplace at Snow Gums Restaurant in Perisher, Snowy Mountains

Expert tip

If you’re staying off the snow, hire a locker at the ski field so you won’t need to lug awkward skis, poles and boots to and from your digs each day. Pack a roll of masking tape and a permanent marker so you can label your skis or snowboards. It’ll make it much easier to identify them amongst the dozens of almost identical ones piled together in the racks outside resort facilities.

Skiers riding the chair lifts at Charlotte Pass Ski Resort in the Snowy Mountains

Where to go

Thredbo is the whole package with a cool village, great events, fun après, a dedicated beginners area and Australia’s only alpine gondola.

Charlotte Pass is a great resort for beginner skiers, with good runs to learn on and less people than most major ski fields due to a limited number of guests.

Perisher and its four linked resorts make up the Southern Hemisphere's largest alpine resort. Perisher, Guthega, Blue Cow and Smiggin Holes have terrain to suit everyone.

Find more info on choosing the resort that is right for you.