It’s spring. It’s also school holidays, which means the costs of entertaining the kids can bloom faster than the daffodils. That’s even if they’re blooming after a series of cold blasts that battered the country in the past weeks. Not that a late chill was unwelcome for the skifields across the country.
After a lacklustre start to the season, skifields from the Queenstown Lakes to Ruapehu got welcome snow top-ups, all but guaranteeing the slopes will stay open until at least their usual closing dates (with more than a chance some will extend them). But what has all this got to do with bored schoolchildren?
Well, the excellent snow cover bolsters my already strong view that spring offers the best riding (or, perhaps, careening and falling) on the ski slopes. Not simply for the better weather and longer days – but because New Zealand ski operators come to the party with some great day rates and packages, that can cushion the blow of an often expensive holiday.
Even if your young ones are more inclined to build snowmen and speed down tobogganing ramps (I always found old real estate signs went fastest), prices for accommodation in motel rooms or through Bookabach or Airbnb melt as we head into September and October. But if you can handle the (inescapable) tantrums, some of our mountains offer packages that make this time of year a cheaper time to test out your ski bunny abilities. It’s the time of year when people’s minds drift from ski breaks to sea breaks, so these alpine businesses need to trot out their best deals to lure punters back to the slopes and squeeze out the final bits of revenue before de-icing the chairlifts for the last time in 2016.
Here are some of the latest:
Snow searchers will still be able to ride on Ruapehu all the way out to Labour Weekend (and it has been known to extend the season out into November). Traditionally Ruapehu has offered heavily discounted spring skiing day passes for young and old. However, from now until season’s end all that’s on offer at Auckland and Wellington’s “local” slope was a deal with the iconic Chateau Tongariro where you can stay for three nights, ski three days but only pay for two (excluding weekends) using the Sping19 promo code. This could be due to the company’s just-announced Lifetine Pass deal (from $3950), a great deal but slightly outside the school holiday budget.
This smaller Canterbury skifield is close to Christchurch airport and is offering nearly 50 per cent off for the first week of the school break, for $42 a pop, through bookme.co.nz. On top of that you can try out the new quad chair with learner’s packages from $70 and full lift and ski hire from just $70. Learners packages includes learners lift pass, two hour group lesson and ski gear.
This field has one of the longest seasons in the country, this year it’s shutting up shop on 9 October. Its best spring deal this year – Intro to Snow package – saves hundreds compared with its Southern Lakes rivals. I will get the under 10s into ship-shape for the slopes in no time (five hours of lessons will do that!). The bundle includes all mountain lift pass, five hours of lessons per day, ski or snowboard hire and supervised lunch included everyday (So you can carry on with your black diamond runs). All for $299 for four days, far better value than the mid-winter rate of more than $400 per day.
Josh Martin is a London-based Kiwi journalist, who writes about travel, tourism, business, and consumer issues in between trips to places you’d rather be. Email [email protected] if you have a travel issue you’d like him to write about.