Lost the July Holidays to COVID chaos? Don’t give up – September/October snow holidays don’t have to be a total slush out! Choose wisely and you will likely have better snow and better weather at our top 3 best September/October snow holiday destinations. In the case of the top 2, you may well change your mind permanently about when to take the kids on that annual snow trip in our winter..
#3 Perisher Season Always Goes Till The Buzzer
Year in, year out, Perisher boasts Australia’s longest resort ski season.
They often open early – a week early this season for example – and even in a lean year like 2020 always make it the the October LWE official close. More often than not, Perisher kicks on for an extra week or so at the end too.
You can have a lot of fun late season here, like Downhill sitski legend and Perisher local Sam Tait, who we snapped smashing wide on the Mt Perisher t-bars at the end of September.
Mt Perisher stays open late too offering better riders more action. They can even keep it open even when the skiable connection patches out to get back to Front Valley too – we have skied it either by parking right there or getting the free shuttle they run if that happens.
Front Valley keeps the park going till the last too, and remains a great place to start kids skiing or boarding on the carpet lifts.
In good seasons Blue Cow and Guthega kick on later also, so you can ski around and hit different aspects as things soften then crunch up again through the day.
Unless there’s a late snowfall (actually quite common) you usually won’t need to fit chains driving up from Jindabyne, or using Skitube it’s often t-shirt weather down at the Bullocks Flat terminus making for very relaxed snow times.
Spring accommodation deals help make it more affordable then too. All up, it’s a no brainer as best Aussie option late season.
#2 Mt Hutt South Island Spring Snow Champion
Mt Hutt is the Kiwi equivalent of Perisher in the season stakes – they invariably open first and close last among the main South Island ski fields. 2021 is a good example: they opened on June 3, and remained the only Kiwi ski area with decent terrain open right through June.
We have skied Hutt in mid-May, and back in the early years they used to run till the snow ran out, which meant meant mid-November sometimes.
In these more corporate times that is not economically viable anymore, so they shut down in October with plenty of snow. The spectacular off-piste options usually soften up nicely on spring days so you can follow the sun around picking your slots. There’s no rush to charge up early either.
Scheduled season close this year is October 17, making it a safe bet for late September/October School Holidays.
By then the days are long, so you can easily fit more in a day – a few hours skiing followed by a round at Methven’s pretty golf course, jet boating along the Rakaiaia Gorge or just catching the rays over some local brews outside the Blue Pub in town. Plus it’s ideal for some ski days and then touring around.
Mt Hutt is perfect for getting kids started on snow, even better this season with the new 8 seater lift out of the base, and very popular for school trips too.
Methven is great value accommodation wise any season, even more so in spring.
#1 Ruapehu Rules for Spring Snow Holidays
Mt Ruapehu is by far the highest mountain with ski lifts in Australia or New Zealand, topping out at 2,797m – high enough to have glaciers!
That extra altitude makes all the difference for late season snow. They are scheduled to open right through to October 25.
It can keep on snowing here through to Xmas (they have even re-opened for skiing at Xmas a few times) and the deep snowpack built up over winter supplies a great base for spring skiing.
The glaciers can be accessed hiking or skinning up from the Tūroa side of the mountain for an amazing long ski down, over 1,200 vertical metres back to the base there.
Or from the Whakapapa side (both ski areas are included on the same lift pass) hike or skin/splitboard/snowshoe up to view the crater lake and enjoy some magnificent spring touring with amazing views across the surrounding volcanoes and out to Mt Egmont/Taranaki on the west coast.
Just off the lifts Tūroa has the biggest vertical drop of any major ski area in NZ at 720m, or enjoy 670m at Whakapapa.
The main runs offer plenty of cruising, excellent beginner and progressive terrain, and the best value big resort skiing and riding in Australasia at just $NZD 74 daily midweeks.
Whakapapa boasts by far the most lifts of any New Zealand ski area, sprawling over 900ha of lift-served runs and off-piste including amazing lave gullies, so you won’t get bored. Turoa has less lifts but the same amount of lift accessed terrain to discover. A highight at Whakapapa is their Sky Whaka gondola.
So you benefit from the best September/October holiday snow, great infrastructure, and the best lift deals at Mt Ruapehu.
The icing on the cake are the numerous other activities on offer in the area and surrounding regions. Take the kids to Rotorua on the way down from Auckland, take the adults to Hawkes Bay wineries on the way back.
More direct flights to Auckland from more Aussie destinations opens it up easily to more people too. Now you can even fly direct from Cairns or Hobart.
Fly into Auckland or Wellington (or into one out of the other).
Wellington Airport is slightly closer – 295km to Ohakune, around 4 hours, vs 347km from Auckland Airport to Ohakune via the most direct route, around 4:15 hours. The more scenic route past Lake Taupo is a beautiful trip and only 30 minutes or so drive time further.
All up Ruapehu is a clear winner as the best spring snow holiday option downunder.
Accommodation Options for Mt Ruapehu
Ohakune/Ohakune Junction is by far the liveliest option, this is one of NZ’s best ski towns.
Otherwise National Park Village is close to Whakapapa with several super budget options, or the Grand Chateau there for old school style, great for couples. Check deals for your preferred dates here for the whole area: