New Zealand ski fields ready to open

With the heavy snow that has blanketed New Zealand's South Island this week Tourism New Zealand is making sure Australia is aware that the 2012 ski season is set for a strong start.

The opening at both Mt Hutt and Coronet Peak this Saturday 9 June means it's now time to experience More in every day - TNZ's 2012 Ski campaign which positions New Zealand as the only place to ski this year.

At Mt Hutt, an average 65cm of snow had covered the Canterbury ski area by Thursday morning. The snowmaking guns at Coronet Peak and Mt Hutt are also at full flow, providing the perfect base for opening of both ski areas this weekend.

The snow has arrived at just the right time to remind Australians about the quality and value of a ski holiday in New Zealand, says Tourism New Zealand's General Manager Australia Tim Burgess.

"It's fantastic to see the snow falling as many Australians start to consider their options for a winter holiday."

New Zealand's Southern Alps which are longer than the French, Swiss and Austrian Alps combined provide visitors with a true alpine experience and incredible value for money given the favourable exchange rate with Australia, says Mr Burgess.

"When you look at the quality and value of a ski experience, but also the range of activities like golf, fishing, hot pools and wine tasting available in our resort towns it is no surprise to see the amount of Australians choosing New Zealand for a ski holiday," says Mr Burgess.

There are some great new deals available to Australians this ski season. Mt Hutt ski area and its neighbouring resort town of Methven have combined with a special Kids4Freedeal offering free skiing, free accommodation, free transport, free ski hire and free meals for children under 10 when accompanied by adults. OnePassNZ is a new product which gives unlimited freedom to ski and ride at eight South Island ski areas.

Easy access to the New Zealand ski slopes is another draw for Australian visitors, says New Zealand Ski Marketing Network spokesperson Trish May.

"Direct international flights into Christchurch and Queenstown open up the South Island's premier ski areas of Canterbury, Mackenzie, Queenstown and Wanaka," says Ms May.

Air New Zealand, Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar have all boosted direct flights between Australia and New Zealand this ski season to meet expected high demand from Australian skiers. Air New Zealand General Manager Australia Cam Wallace says the additional trans-Tasman capacity builds on more than a decade of year-on-year growth.

"We know that the majority of Australians who are actively considering visiting New Zealand are interested in skiing - so our activities this season are very much focused on converting these into ski-bums on seats," says Mr Wallace.

New Zealand has been a growing winter destination of choice for Australians in recent years.  Australians represent the largest international market on the New Zealand slopes, attracted by the long season and the true alpine environment.

With the best of the snow season on the horizon, there's no better time for Australians to grab a great deal and experience New Zealand at its best both on and off the slopes.

To plan and book a New Zealand winter holiday visit and you can find out more about the 2012 ski season here.