Best snow’s just a short hop over the ditch, maaaate

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Australian tourists increasingly view Queenstown as their “local” winter destination, according to the Wakatipu’s snow field operator NZSki. 

Our cobbers across the ditch are no longer just booking Queenstown holidays in advance, thanks to bumper numbers of direct trans-Tasman flights, NZSki marketing manager Craig Douglas says. 

“People are travelling at much shorter notice. We’re just as much a local opportunity to go skiing as any of the domestic ski areas in Australia.” 

Most Aussies have to travel more than three hours to get to home fields, whereas Queenstown is a three-hour flight away. 

Most Southern Lakes skifields charge $97 for a day lift pass, whereas a day pass at Australia’s Perisher skifield is $115. 

“We’re right on their doorstep,” Douglas added while commenting at the ski area giant’s annual pre-season update to local businesspeople on Tuesday. 

At the briefing NZSki bosses noted everything’s looking positive for a big season at local fields Coronet Peak and The Remarkables – plus Queenstown itself. 

Thanks to a strong Australian economy and increase in direct international flights Aussies will continue to come to the resort in droves, Douglas predicts. 

Trans-Tasman flight arrival schedules during July and August are up 20.5 per cent from last year, which equates to about 9500 additional people, he says. Most are coming from Sydney and Melbourne – the latter being a new market for NZSki. 

Departing chief executive James Codding­ton says the average Australian customer spends 10 days in Queenstown – and the entire local business community benefits. 

“Just under five of those days they choose to ski and snowboard. More than 50 per cent of their time is taken up doing other activities. 

“We know we’re only a small part of people’s holiday experiences. That’s why Queenstown Inc has a massive responsibility to deliver these world-class experiences.” 

The company is continuing to push marketing through traditional and social media by itself, plus via joint campaigns with Tourism New Zealand and the South Island’s Tourism Marketing Network. 

Meanwhile, Coddington – who resigned in February – will join NZSki’s board of directors once a replacement is found. An announcement on who the new chief executive will be is expected in the next couple of weeks. 

Coddington expects to remain in his role for most of the season, given his replacement will probably need to work through a notice period.