It's time to dust off your skis and snowboard – the ski season is here! Now is the time to start planning a snowy escape this winter, but there are a few things you should know before you go. On these pages you can explore NSW’s ski resorts, plan your perfect trip and find a place to stay.
Please note that new COVID-19 restrictions are in place for the ski resorts of the Snowy Mountains for the 2021 season. Guests must wear fitted face coverings in all indoor areas (including the Skitube) and they are highly recommended in outdoor areas. Maintain social distancing, practice good hygiene and stay home if you are unwell. Residents of any LGA under stay at home orders, including Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour are currently prohibited from travelling to the Snowy Mountains.
The best ski resorts in NSW
The largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere, Perisher has something for everyone. Spread across four areas – Perisher Valley, Blue Cow, Smiggin Holes and Guthega – it has 47 lifts, plenty of runs, five terrain parks and over 100km of cross country trails.
In Thredbo you can ski Australia’s longest runs, ring the bell at the country’s highest lifted point or ride on the new Merritts Gondola, the only one of its kind. The pretty Alpine village at the base of the mountain is full of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops.
Australia’s highest ski field, Charlotte Pass is a boutique resort that’s perfect for families. It’s snowbound in winter and the only way to get there is on an over-snow trip from Perisher. You can also make a snowshoe climb to the top of Mount Kosciuszko.
Generally, the ski season starts on the June long weekend and runs until October. The peak season and the best snow is usually found in July and August. In 2020, the resorts opened later – Thredbo on 22 June, Perisher on 24 June and Charlotte Pass on 26 June.
What are the biggest differences between Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass?
Thredbo is a compact resort with a good variety of runs, including Australia’s longest and highest ski runs. There’s also a great area for kids and beginners, Friday Flat. It is the only resort to have a substantial Alpine village at the base of the mountain with accommodation, shops, restaurants and bars.
Perisher is the largest resort, with four separate ski areas and three times as many runs as Thredbo. It’s great for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and abilities. It is also easy to access from Jindabyne with the Skitube Railway running from Bullocks Flat.
Charlotte Pass is the smallest resort and the only one that is completely snowbound in winter. You will stay in one of the lodges at the base of the runs and get to look out over the snow at night.
If you’ve never been skiing or snowboarding, it’s a good idea to hire your clothing and equipment. There are hire shops in Jindabyne and Cooma, and at all the resorts. It is compulsory for children to wear a helmet on the slopes and recommended for adults too.
Obviously, it gets very cold in the Snowy Mountains. Pack lots of layers, including thermals if you have them. You will also need sunscreen and a good pair of sunglasses or ski goggles as the sun’s reflection off the snow can be harsh.
Find more tips for first time skiers and boarders here.
There are many ways to get to the Snowy Mountains and the ski resorts. The drive from Sydney to Jindabyne is around five hours or just over two hours from Canberra. You can also fly into Snowy Mountains Airport in Cooma, a one-hour drive from the resorts. You will need to take special care when driving on snowy or icy roads – read these tips first.
You can drive or take a shuttle to Thredbo and park at the base of the mountain. For Perisher, drive up to the resort or catch the Skitube from Bullocks Flat. To get to Charlotte Pass you will need to take over-snow transport from Perisher.
Are there changes at the ski resorts in 2020 because of COVID-19?
Yes. All three ski resorts have reduced capacity, made it essential to pre-purchase lift tickets, closed some venues, and banned tobogganing and snow play. Find out more information about the 2020 season here.
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