If you are a dedicated ski enthusiast then you get a twinge of sorrow when spring snow turns to slush in the Northern Hemisphere. If waiting another six months for the powder to return isn’t an option then you know you'll be turning to the ski resorts below the equator. Whether you're a freerider or looking for a family vacation, you’ll want to choose the best resort. We’ve researched the best ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere so you can plan your trip with confidence.
Ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere offer some of the best powder, highest peaks and best après-ski accommodations on the planet. If you thought Europe or Japan had it dialed, think again. South America, Australia, New Zealand and even Africa offer some of the best ski resorts you’ll find.
If you’ve got the motivation and the means to travel to the Southern Hemisphere then you should consider the best skis on earth. Renoun is the first ski manufacturer to bring non-newtonian materials to stabilize skis and reduce chatter. Renoun makes it’s world-class skis based on HDTTM which adapt instantly to snow conditions and ski style. When exposed to vibrations the polymer hardens, actively damping the ski. Check out this year's line-up of award winning skis at Renoun.
Portillo is the oldest ski resort in South America, located 102 miles from Santiago. Though the snow is almost always great, Portillo's magic is in the people — it's packed with snow-loving, good natured folks who enjoy kicking back after a day of skiing and having a conversation. There is only one hotel available, and although it's luxurious, it's not so up-tight that you can't kick you feet up on the furniture from time to time and make yourself at home.
The Portillo ski resort has become a favorite amongst pro skiers. World Cup teams for the US, Canada, Norway and Austria have made it their preferred ski resort. Coaches consider it to have a combination of challenging terrain and excellent ski conditions which make it an ideal for organizing summer training for Olympic skiers.
In terms of accommodations, the Portillo ski resort has one central hotel with 123 rooms and several ski chalets. The hotel rooms don’t have televisions to encourage guests to enjoy activities and each other. Looking to reconnect with your kids? Portillo may have the answer.
One unique aspect of skiing at Portillo is that there are almost no lift lines. The resort limits the number of guests to 450 so everyone gets the most of their ski day. If you are looking for unique family experience in an exotic location, the Portillo ski resort may be your best choice.
The Remarkables, New Zealand
The Remarkables is a sizable ski resort with a huge area for beginners, several ski parks and backcountry excursions for hard core skiers. Located just 45 minutes from central Queenstown, it offers plenty of sun and untouched snow that is sure to please. The ski season runs from June to October.
The Remarkables boasts seven parks including the only Stash run in the Southern Hemisphere. A Stash run combines the perfect mix of freestyle and freeride and often incorporates trees with features, jumps and transitions. Stash runs are the brainchild of the late Jake Burton Carpenter, founder of Burton and father of the snowboard industry.
You don’t have to ski or snowboard to have a good time at The Remarkables. You can hire a sled or Yooner to enjoy the snow or to take in the views of Queenstown from the top of Shadow Basin. Hardcore skiers can find abundant challenges in touring and backcountry excursions. The Remarkables is included in the Ikon Pass.
Cerro Castor, Argentina
Cerro Castor is located in the province of Tierra del Fuego and is the southernmost ski resort in our line-up. It was selected as Argentina’s best ski resort by the World Ski Awards in 2013. Cerro Castor is Argentina’s most exclusive resort and provides a unique skiing and après-ski experience.
The ski season lasts from June to October, one of the longest in the Southern Hemisphere. The best month for snowfall is September, with an average of 54 inches. The resort covers 600 hectares of skiable domain and proposes 36 trails for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers. You’ll find a large zone for beginners and a ski park for shedders.
Cerro Castor has come a long way since its humble beginnings with only 3 lifts and a shelter at the base. It now has up-scale lodging and 7 restaurants. A ski lodge and cozy ski huts line the lower runs. But what makes the resort really special is its location in the southern-most tourist destination in the world, and the quality of the snow.
The best way to get to Cerro Castor is to fly into the city of Ushuaia which is located 16 miles away from the resort. You can catch one of the daily scheduled flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia or take a charter flight from Brazil as well.
Craigieburn Valley, New Zealand
Located in New Zealand’s Southern Alps, 110 kilometers from Christchurch, Craigieburn offers steep narrow chutes, wide open powder bowls and uncrowded runs for intermediate and advanced skiers. The resort straddles two ridge lines featuring a vertical rise of 503 meters and 600 hectares of skiable domain.
If you live for backcountry skiing, Craigieburn provides an unmatched experience anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere. Expert riders will find The Big One at Craigieburn to be the ultimate backcountry challenge.
Craigieburn is a non-profit organization run by club members. It doesn’t have chairlifts, ski rentals or snow making equipment. Instead it provides three, high-capacity rope tows so your arms are sure to get a work out in addition to your thighs.
The Craigieburn resort offers two lodges, Koroheke and Matuhi, situated just below the treeline. You’ll find a bar, chef’s kitchen, lounge area and breathtaking views of the entire valley. The lodges provide a ski-in, ski-out experience so you can pop off your equipment and enjoy a cold beer or a warm tea moments later. In addition, the resort can accommodate up to 65 guests in 6-person bunk rooms and twin share rooms. You won’t find shopping and spas at Craigieburn but the resort makes up for it with a warm and friendly social atmosphere.
Nestled in the Snowy Mountains between Sydney and Melbourne, Perisher is the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere. There are four areas, Perisher Valley, Blue Cow, Smiggins and Guthega, covering over 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. They are interlinked so you can try them all on a ski holiday with family or friends.
Perisher boasts a true resort village with over 30 restaurants and cafes. The altitude doesn't rival the jagged peaks of New Zealand and South America, but if you are looking for the best après-ski experience in the Southern Hemisphere, look no farther, Perisher delivers.
The resort comprises 47 lifts and 100s of runs to please all levels of skier. Perisher has 8 award winning terrain parks and 2 half pipes. The resort hosts the Australian Junior Freerider Championships each year in early September. Two hundred of the world’s best junior freestyle skiers come to Perisher to compete on some of the best terrain parks in the Southern Hemisphere.
The best way to reach the resort is by hopping airport shuttles to the Snowy Mountains Airport from Sydney and other destinations. The Skitube is a Swiss designed rack-rail train that leaves from Bullocks Flat and links the four skiable domains. Perisher is a 5 hour drive from Sydney or 30 minutes from Jindabyne. Kangaroos and other wildlife can be seen along the way.
Las Leñas, Argentina
Located in the heart of the Andes mountain range, Las Leñas is one of the best ski stations in Latin America. There is over 7,500 hectares of skiable terrain. The base of the domain is situated 2,240 meters above sea level and extends to 3,430 meters at its peak. The ski season goes from June through September.
The entire resort is above the tree line and offers exceptional quality of snow. The Marta lift takes you quite literally to the top of the world. You’ll find unmatchable quantities of untouched power which is the main reason Las Leñas is known as a paradise for freeriders.
Las Leñas offers exceptional world-renowned cuisine and excellent accommodations for avid skiers and families. Après-ski in Las Leñas is fairly limited but after a few beers and rounds of pool at the lodge, you might want to dress up and go to the Casino and the Piscis Hotel.
Tiffindell, South Africa
Tiffindell is located on the slope of Ben McDhui mountain in South Africa. At an altitude of 3001 meters, Ben McDhui is the highest peak in all of Cape Province and Tiffindell is the highest ski resort in the country. In 2014, Tiffindell was voted 19th in CNN Travel’s World’s Best Ski Runs.
The ski season lasts from June to August. If mother nature doesn’t provide ample powder then Tiffindel will. The resort is covered with state of the art snow making equipment to harness the high-altitude temperatures and provide a good base.
Tiffindel has several ski lifts, a ski shop and a ski school offering classes in skiing and snowboarding. The resort includes a hospitality centre with over 150 beds. Activities such as tobogganing and making snowmen make it a great holiday for the whole family.
The mission of Tiffindell is to preserve the resort for future generations so that they may enjoy this national treasure.
We hope you've enjoyed our round-up of the best ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere. Here at Renoun Skis, we’re dedicated to delivering a world-class experience based on our HDTTM ski dampening technology. Pair the world’s best skis with the greatest resorts in the Southern Hemisphere and you’ve got an adventure you’ll never forget.
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Marc Bolh is an avid skier and snowboarder from Burlington, Vermont. His favorite ski resorts are Sugarbush, Vermont and Alpes du Huez, France. Marc has lived in France and skied many of the best peaks in the Alps.