AdventureBy Tim Brewster
Spring skiing in Wanaka. Longer, warmer days, uncrowded slopes, more accommodation choices, a lakefront for a playground... what’s not to love?
It's spring time in Wanaka and the lifts are still turning, so if you want to ski or board on the white stuff, there’s plenty to be had.
For many it can come as a revelation that there is consistently good snow through to mid October, with Treble Cone and Cardrona Alpine Resort near Wanaka both open early to mid October and the cross country trails of the Snow Farm open to late September.
Let's start with sunshine. In September you get an hour more light to play in at the end of the day. Temperatures also more than double - from an average of 3.7 °C in July to 8.3°C in September.
On the mountain spring skiing may mean a slightly later start for learners as you wait for the snow to soften, but once it does, it's a massive confidence builder. It slows you down and allows your skis or board to track much more securely than firm early winter snow. Sunscreen, sunglasses and a light jacket, rather than balaclavas and multiple layers make the whole experience a lot more user friendly as well.
While July is key for the good early snow conditions the Southern Lakes is known for, you usually head straight indoors as soon you're off the hill as the sun rapidly disappears. But with a September ski holiday you have the lakeside as a playground and spring warmth in downtown Wanaka, giving you a great choice of activities outside after a day on slopes.
Renting a paddle board or kayak and cruising along the lakefront by bike or just ambling along the shore on foot with a gelato after a day on the slopes... that’s an apres ski scene everyone can appreciate.
That hustle for a top car park position slows right down once September starts. There’s a noticeable slowing of pace and that line in the cafe for your first caffeine shot on the mountain is much shorter than earlier in the season.
The school holidays in September have almost half the numbers heading for the snow compared to July, meaning almost nonexistent lift lines, fewer people to dodge and more opportunity to relax in your own time.
The people that do come in spring tend to be on less of a deadline. Arriving late to ski for a few hours, sit around the sun and enjoying the music and outdoor refreshment stops often set up by the resorts. Think Hawaiian shirts and onesie days. Resort staff have a bit more time to stop and chat. It is a holiday isn't it?
Anecdotally spring ski packages in New Zealand knock it out of the park for value compared to other overseas resorts, and in Wanaka the option of accommodation spots within walking distance to town and the lake are a lot more plentiful in September.
If the reasons above for a spring ski holiday in Wanaka haven’t convinced you yet, consider this:
Ski season officially closes 15 October 2017