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Later, Summer: Ski Southern Hemisphere Snow This Year

[This post was originally published in 2018, and has been updated with more information on where to find the best Southern Hemisphere snow.]

The pool sucks.

OK, fine—maybe burning your shoulders while you sip lemon La Croix and wishing you owned a sun hat is a decent way to spend a couple days this summer. Watching kids splash your partner every time they cannonball is pretty good humor. But beyond a few days, you swear you’ll melt into this oily lounge chair.

where to ski the southern hemisphere
Hire someone else to mow your lawn this summer. | PHOTO: Liam Doran

PSA: Summer doesn’t have to be a sweaty blur of aloe application. Because, well, it doesn’t have to be summer. Turns out it’s winter down south, where you can find fluffy, Southern Hemisphere snow. Ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere are starting to set their open dates and a few of them have already measured snow. Down there, June means eager opening days just like November has since you were five.

August means deep winter in some of the best ski terrain in the world. The South may not have the abundance of ski-cation options you’re used to in the Northern Hemisphere—you’re pretty much looking at Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina—but it can include all the surreal powder turns, snowy mountainscapes, and hot tub après. Plus, with two ski seasons instead of just one, the kiddos will progress twice as fast!

Put down the pool noodle, head inside, and let this list get you started.

Skiing in New Zealand

Mt Hutt

mt hutt terrain parks in new zealand southern hemisphere snow
There are four(!) terrain parks at Mt Hutt, perfect for any skill level. | Photo: Courtesy Mt Hutt

Located just a quick drive away from Southern Island hub Christchurch, Mt Hutt is a full-fledged ski resort with beautiful views and equally full-fledged terrain. While the small ski clubs fields feature limited amenities and facilities, Mt Hutt is the largest resort closest to Christchurch.

Beyond the backcountry access gates and steep terrain for advanced and experts alike, there’s a plethora of beginner and intermediate runs perfect for the whole crew. Mt Hutt has been voted “New Zealand’s best ski resort” eight years in a row for their deep snow fall, on and off trail terrain, and expansive facilities.

A big perk? If you’re on the Ikon Pass, you get five days to Mt Hutt and partner resorts The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. Pro tip, this coming summer, you can use both the 22/23 and 23/24 season passes down there. That’s a lot of days.

Getting there: Fly into Christchurch. From there, you can rent a car for the hour drive or take a ski bus all the way to the mountain. There’s also transit from local town Metheven right in the valley beneath the mountain if you choose to stay closer or camp. Be sure to bring snow chains and check in at the road information post before driving up the road!

Mt Olympus

No, you haven’t stumbled upon a Greek ski trip guide. Mt Olympus is one of New Zealand’s deepest powder destinations. With some of the biggest and most consistent annual snowfall in New Zealand, the playground of the Gods delivers the goods.

Mt Olympus is one of New Zealand’s ski club fields. These ski areas look different than the big box resorts we’re usually familiar with. They’re small, run by locals, usually feature little to no groomed terrain, and often operate on exclusively rope tows. With tough conditions (and a queue of locals giggling at you attempting to get on the tow), Mt Olympus is not for the faint of heart.

But if you love skiing for skiing and are willing to work for your turns, there is plenty of fresh snow to be had. Easily accessible hikes to bigger terrain and a fraction of the crowds you’d see anywhere else, Mt Olympus delivers terrain and endless soft snow that skiers will adore.

Getting there: This is the tricky bit. A 15km access road gets you to the base, which they recommend 4WD high clearance vehicle to ascend. As with anything, if you’re confident and have chains, your 2-wheeler might make it. Otherwise, you can hire local guides to drive you up.

Treble Cone

skier slashes some snow in the southern hemisphere at treble cone
Lake side views while skiing powder? We’ll take it. Photo: Courtesy Wanaka Tourism

If you head further south towards Queenstown and Wanaka, you’ll find even more skiing. Treble Cone is the largest ski area in the South Island. You’ll find huge freeride terrain with endless line choices. Treble Cone offers slightly less intermediate and beginner terrain (check out partner mountain Cardrona in the same region for that), but for advanced/expert skiers, there doesn’t seem to be a better place for freeride skiing.

As with most New Zealand skiing, all the terrain is above treeline. That means wide open alpine skiing with amazing views of lakes, snow that doesn’t get chewed up in the trees, and inspires a new way to look at the mountain. Head off to the Motatapu Basin and chutes for some steep and deep chutes, or up to the summit for some world class views.

Getting there: Fly into Queenstown, which has a lively nightlife. Stay here or in Wanaka, another popular travel destination. A shuttle can pick you up at the bottom of the mountain instead of driving to the top on snow days.

Skiing in Chile


skiing in portillo chile
Some of the world’s best skiers have arced powder turns down to Laguna del Inca. | Photo: Liam Doran

You build your trip around a place like Portillo. The yellow waterside hotel tucked between steep chutes and black rock. You may know Portillo from “Chasing Shadows,” a Warren Miller film in which pros Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, Ingrid Backstrom, and Ian McIntosh rip the steeps above Laguna del Inca. Or maybe your dad’s buddy has been telling you about it for 10 years.

Portillo offers extensive, and world-renowned, off-piste and backcountry skiing set against a famous backdrop. Its 2,500 feet of vert tops out just shy of 11,000 feet, and its 35 trails range from rolling aprons and open faces to rocky narrows. Experts and intermediates love it. As you soak in the hotel’s postcard pools, ask a local about the lake’s legend.

Considering Portillo’s fame, you may be surprised to learn that there’s no base village and minimal on-site accommodations. It’s Hotel Portillo plus two small lodges and a few chalets. Day ticket sales are limited, and the resort houses 450 guests. Book a multi-night stay early, and enjoy waking up in the mountains rather than driving two hours from Santiago.

Getting there: Fly into Santiago, where a bevy of transportation options can get you to Portillo.

Valle Nevado

view of valle nevado
Perched in Andean glory. | Photo: Courtesy of Valle Nevado

On the valley buses in Aspen that take you from mountain to mountain, you’ll usually find an advertisement above the windows to extend your winter in Valle Nevado.

Like Portillo, you access Valle Nevado from Santiago. Unlike Portillo, it’s a big scene, complete with exceptional infrastructure and great options for families. Compared to the other Tres Valle resorts (the three resorts in close proximity to Santiago), Valle Nevado offers extensive English speaking ski school, making this a good international choice for learning youngesters. It’s also on the Ikon Pass.

The terrain is vast, treeless, and perfect if you’re bringing people with varied abilities. Idyllic deck tubs overlook rolling expanses of terrain that, thanks to its high elevation (9,843 feet at the base) sees reliable snow. Valle Nevado also offers heli skiing right from the base, with plenty of other backcountry options catching your eye as you ski.

Getting there: Valle Nevado sits only 44 miles outside Santiago, meaning you can justify saving a little money and staying in the city. Buses, private shuttles, and rental cars can whisk you to the ski area. Or you can treat yourself to slopeside digs in one of Valle’s three hotels.

Skiing in Australia


perisher ski area
The view after a fresh storm in Perisher. | Photo: Courtesy Perisher Ski Resort

Holding the claim as the largest ski area in the entire Southern Hemisphere (with 3,000 acres of skiable terrain), Perisher Ski Resort would say sometimes, bigger is better. An inconcievable 47 lifts and seven seperate terrain parks means there’s countless lines and runs to be had for every skill level.

There are several different mountains in a close area that all fall into the resort boundary. It’s easy to get to all the different terrain (see the 47 lifts in the resort boundaries), and you get similar difficulty trails in the same area.

While Australia isn’t known for their “big-mountain” terrain, but there are certainly some steeps to get into. The aptly named Double Trouble and Devil’s Playground zones are steeped tree zones with plenty of line choices. You also get a plethora of blue terrain, family learning zones, and world-class terrain parks. You get access to Perisher on the Epic Pass, alongside Falls Creek and Hotham, making for a perfect Australia ski trip.

Getting there: The closest major city is Canberra, which is about 2 hours via car. From Bullocks Flat, the town at the entrance of the Kosciuszko National Park, you can take the “Ski Tube” metro train up the hill to the base of the mountain. There’s much more parking and facilities down here to start the day right.

Mt Hotham

Powder day at Mt Hotham Ski Resort
Powder day at Mt Hotham | Photo: Courtsey Powderhounds

Hotham is one of the closest resorts to Melbourne, with some of the deepest snow. Dubbed “Australia’s Powder Capital”, snow storms that roll in uniquely load up and fill Hotham’s terrain with the fluffy stuff, giving skiers and riders the chance for the best days ever.

The central “base” area is located close to the top of the mountian, letting you blindly drop in without any preconcieved ideas of what you’re getting yourself into. A.K.A., the fun way. The village is extensive, with mulitple dining locations and retail shops to pick up last minute items. You’ll also find plenty of accomodation on the mountain, letting you live your wildest ski-in-ski-out dreams.

Hotham’s beginner terrain is limited, but makes up for it with a plethroa of advanced and expert terrain. Heavenly Valley and Gotcha lifts pick you up at the bottom of your runs in Snake Gully to bring you back to Hotham’s summit ridge. A variety of non-ski activities bring variety for the family if not everyone wants to get after it.

Getting there: Start from Melbourne, and rent a car. You’ll want to be prepared for snowy conditions with chains. If driving isn’t your thing, there are several bus services and taxis from Melbourne that can get you there drama-free.

Skiing in Argentina

Las Leñas

skiing outside of las lenas in the southern hemisphere
Check out some of the terrain just outside the gates at Las Leñas. | Photo: Courtesy PowderQuest Guides

One of the most vibrant ski areas in South America, Las Leñas features some of the best terrain for everyone from beginner kiddos to seasoned experts. With a massive amount of terrain and vertical drop, there’s plenty of skiing to explore.

With a whopping five hotels at the base, staying for a full trip and maximizing ski time is easy. Compared to other Argentina resorts, the high elevation of Las Leñas allows for primo snow quality. Large amounts of intermediate groomed terrain means there’s plenty of high-quality carving. A large beginner area is great for families. When open, the Marte lift unlocks tons of vertical feet and radical terrain.

Las Leñas also offers cat skiing tours to explore deeper into the mountains and find some powder, night skiing, and a casino at the base!

Getting there: You have a few options for travel. Fly in the Buenos Aires, then either connect to a local Mendoza airport, take a charter bus, or rent a car. In the car, you’ll have a significant car ride (about 11 hours and ~750 miles), but with plenty of scenery and other travel experiences to take in.

Cerro Chapelco

cerro chapelco
A change of scenery at Cerro Chapelco. | Photo: Courtesy Cerro Chapelco

A smaller ski resort compared to the other two listed here, Cerro Chapelco offers a unique vibe perfect for skiers looking for a local feel on their ski trip. With some of the most modern lift and base infrastructure in South America, you can bang out laps, rent new gear, and have some delicious food all at once. Cerro Chapelco also offers non-ski activities for the whole family, like snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and dog-sledding.

Unique for Southern Hemisphere skiing, Cerro Chapelco offers a wide variety of tree skiing. The pitch is mellow, but offers plenty of variety to keep intermediate and advanced skiers entertained. A large family area stocked with magic carpets makes this one of the most family friendly resorts.

The local ski town—San Martin de los Andes— is just 20 minutes away from the base and offers tons of accomodation, restaurants, and shops. The relaxed vibe adds an extra flavor to your ski trip that makes this ski stop extra special.

Getting there: The best way to get here is to drive, either by rental or taxi. The road is fairly mellow so most vehicles can make it up, even if in 2WD. Fly into Bariloche for the least issues, as the local Chapelco airport can close in inclement weather.

Cerro Catedral

Only 20 minutes outside the city of San Carlos de Bariloche, Cerro Catedral is one of the largest ski areas in the Southern Hemisphere. Its 2,965 acres of skiable terrain compare to Steamboat, while its 3,773-foot vertical drop would rank among North America’s top 10.

Catedral matches its big terrain with a big scene. Especially by South American standards, its infrastructure, uphill capacity, and base village stand out. Fittingly, there’s terrain for skiers of all ability levels and impressive vistas of cathedral-like towers and blue lakes. Advanced and expert skiers won’t be bored; half the terrain is off-piste.
Stay in Bariloche, one of Argentina’s most beautiful and vibrant cities, and visit Catedral outside holiday periods to avoid big lift lines. .

Getting there: To fly into Bariloche, you’ll have to connect through a larger hub like Santiago or São Paulo.


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