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Skiing in the Southern Hemisphere
 
Whakapapa, NZ As you watch the snow slowly turn to slush and then disappear in European resorts, the prospect of summer tends to put all of your skiing dreams on hold, especially when the queues for glacier skiing build up. But, with the wonderful terrain and exciting cultural differences apparent in the southern hemisphere, there's really no reason to connect summer with the end of skiing…

Weather conditions and, consequently, snow cover can be variable in the southern hemisphere. Considering the sheer size of the terrain in question, however, it is nearly always possible to find ample snow somewhere. And, with the delightfully varied scenery, wildlife and life in general available in the southern hemisphere, even grey days will provide you with more than enough to keep yourself occupied.
 
Generally speaking, the ski season in most southern hemisphere resorts runs from June to mid-October, but can be extended in either direction according to snow conditions. Resorts are more often than not lower than in Europe, but still experience extremely changeable weather conditions. Days filled with golden sun are often followed by grey skies and cooler temperatures. Be sure that you take with you enough gear to keep you comfortable at either end of the weather spectrum. Waterproofs and suntan lotion are a surreal combination, but also a very good idea.
Portillo, Chile

Australian, New Zealand, Chilean and Argentine resorts are all, by European standards, comparatively underdeveloped. However, as you will quickly realise, this allows a great deal more freedom in both your choice of resort and runs. It also means that lift pass prices are favourable and you can really enjoy getting back to the basics of skiing. While pistes are usually shorter and narrower than those in Europe, they also cover extremely varied terrain and provide spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
 
Skiing in New Zealand is generally accepted to be more diverse and challenging than that in Australia. Both offer beautiful surroundings and interesting non-skiing alternatives. However, for skiing that will truly stretch and strengthen you, Whakapapa is a sound choice. It is New Zealand's largest developed ski area and offers a vertical drop of 680m, amazing off-piste and around 30 pistes ranging from beginner to advanced status.

The South American resorts offer time benefits in that they are closer than Australia and New Zealand when travelling from Europe - and excellent skiing is available in both Chile and Argentina. The scenery around most resorts in both countries is usually exceptional. However, travelling further south in search of more exotic natural surroundings does not result in the discovery of either country's best resorts - the majority of the best skiing options are in the north.

Overall, skiing in the southern hemisphere is a more than worthwhile experience. Australia and New Zealand offer challenging and varied possibilities, with the added advantage of spoken English for those skiers who do not possess other languages. Chile and Argentina, while they may not offer quite the same extent of developed resorts, are excellent choices which provide both varied terrain and stunning surroundings. Any excursion to the southern hemisphere, however, should be accompanied by a more general exploration of the area, as it is unlikely that any individual resort will satisfy the visiting skier.


Southern Hemisphere Ski Resorts