Where to for Beginner Skier?

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Foreigner

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Ski holidays don't come cheap, I think. Where would be good place (from Sydney) for novice skier before adventuring on ski holidays?
 

vantage03

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From Sydney we fly to Albury then drive 2.5 hours to Mt. Buller, but Falls Creek and Mt. Hotham are even closer. So much easier than schlepping 7 hours in a car..!!

I worry that the tiny resorts will turn a beginner off skiing as there really isn't too much else to do other than ski (which is a frustrating thing to learn as an adult).
 

Ausbt

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From Sydney we fly to Albury

I worry that the tiny resorts will turn a beginner off skiing as there really isn't too much else to do other than ski .

If Foreigner is trying to keep it to a budget, hard to see how flying is going to help. Albury is an interesting choice though - that's about 3 hours from Buller. But so is Tullarmarine. I'm sure someone will enlighten me as to whether whatever airline flies into ABX can be had cheaper than into MEL.

Your second point is quite valid though. I recommend Thredbo. Friday Flat is a great beginners area and there is a lot more to keep novices busy - the Aquatic centre, the beautiful village, good restaurants. A Gondala ride up to Eagles Nest at nightis also pretty attractive to first timers.
 

NM

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It can be cheaper to fly to NZ for skiing than to pay the prices asked in Aus. Look at Mt Ruapahu which is about 5 hours drive south from Auckland with reasonable prices including accommodation close to the mountain. We found the skiing was suitable for beginners.
 
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From Sydney for a beginner, I'd go to Smiggins. Great beginner area which doesn't tend to get packed out with better skiers but will work with you as you progress and even let you ski (or rail) between there and Perisher and Blue Cow which are also good choices. Best combo all round in my mind for beginners.

For a budget stay, my family has stayed many times at the Kosciuszko Mountain retreat which is a 15min drive to Jindabyne and a 15min drive to Smiggins/Perisher and we do enjoy it as well.

Also agree with Mt Selwyn!
 

Cynicor

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Depends on what the budget is really, but Aussie "snow" turned me off skiing and the snow for life, until a girlfriend convinced me to try Japan "one last time".

I think NZ is the best bang for buck, but have never been personally- this is only from my Niseko friends (5 trips now with 2 more booked this season).
 

Steelo

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I was also put off by Australian snow. Why don't you just jump right in and try some "real snow" in northern Asia. Japan is good and have also skied as a beginner (with a non English speaking Chinese instructor who knew 2 words - "gooder" and "badder". They can be cheaper than Australian ski resorts and a better experience - especially when you see 80 year old Japanese women skiing with ease.
 
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I don't agree that OS is cheaper than Oz. Especially down the budget end with a family. We use to get a week skiing and accommodation for less than $1500 in Oz for a family of 5. Try doing that anywhere offshore.

Also, snow can be cough in Oz, but it can elsewhere too. Due my youth being spent on the Oz ski slopes, I now quite enjoy ice over powder, even to point in the mornings of heading toward the tree shadows as I know there will be ice.....but I realise I'm in the minority there.
 

Ausbt

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It can be cheaper to fly to NZ for skiing than to pay the prices asked in Aus. .

Or Japan. Seriously. I've performed this comparison many times, almost as often as I've skied those locations. Just based on accommodation + lift tickets + flights for one solo traveller my findings are:

The breakeven point for Japan -v- Oz is 9 days (the trip length at which costs are the same)
The breakeven point for NZ -v- Oz is 7 days

...and that's incurring zero flight costs in Oz, without even adding in fuel! Sure, it's a bare-bones comparison that ignores a lot of other stuff, but the fact it that accom + skiing in Oz is exorbitant compared to Japan & NZ and even includes other costs that don't exist in those destinations, such as National Park entry fees. In addition, there are ways of making it even cheaper. Fly to NZ, rent a cheap car and get all your lift tickets completely for free? I've done it many times.
 

samh004

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I'm firmly in the NZ is cheaper than Oz camp... and so long as you pick the right location (not just mountain, but town/city) it can be very nice all round. Though, it's not like the ski-in/ski-out you can find in Australia or further overseas... but then, if you're a beginner you probably don't want to be around that much snow and ice 24/7 ;)
 

Ausbt

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Though, it's not like the ski-in/ski-out you can find in Australia or further overseas

I've never really found the drive a chore, it can actually be a lot of fun. Take Treble Cone, for example. I punted a 3 cylinder Daihatsu Charade up and down those 20-odd switchbacks for a week with no drama. Over here in Oz, you probably have people who think "oh, I might do a snow holiday one year, glad I bought a Prado just in case I ever end up going". Plus, the views from and town of Wanaka make it a particularly pleasant place to hang around in, much better than some isolated lodge in Perisher.
 

samh004

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I've never really found the drive a chore, it can actually be a lot of fun. Take Treble Cone, for example. I punted a 3 cylinder Daihatsu Charade up and down those 20-odd switchbacks for a week with no drama. Over here in Oz, you probably have people who think "oh, I might do a snow holiday one year, glad I bought a Prado just in case I ever end up going". Plus, the views from and town of Wanaka make it a particularly pleasant place to hang around in, much better than some isolated lodge in Perisher.

TC looks like it's having a great year! :p
 

RAM

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It can be cheaper to fly to NZ for skiing than to pay the prices asked in Aus. Look at Mt Ruapahu which is about 5 hours drive south from Auckland with reasonable prices including accommodation close to the mountain. We found the skiing was suitable for beginners.


Question really becomes:

If for one or two adults:
- for a weekend only - stay in OZ and even consider Charlotte's Pass if you're not well coordinated. If you're a cyclist (same muscle groups) then aim for slightly more challenging (not so flat) conditions.
- for 5 days or more not in school holiday times then go NZ

If for a family during school holidays:
- weekend - mortgage house and go in OZ, still Charlotte's Pass (as above)
- week or longer - believe it or not can be cheaper (including all airfares, accom, season pass (!!!), equip hire) to go to Japan or Europe.

Have regularly priced (first 4 years of skiing with kids) up cost in School Holidays to take 3 school age plus parents. It was cheaper (total of every cost) to go visit relatives in UK, fly across to Austria and ski for 10 days, 14 days, 18 days, 20 days in Dec/Jan - then do skiing in winter in Australia.

Prices in Aust for non-school holiday seem to have come down a little (deals available) but snow conditions and area to ski - just no comparison unfortunately.

For example (no resort will not be named) a season pass Dec 13/Jan 14 holiday for 3 teens and 2 parents cost $1,008 (EUR equivalent). After 14 days you just buy a season ticket. The resort we like only has 14X km of routes, is a little higher than Thredbo, has much better snow and is never crowded. During their school holidays (they get the Xmas/New Year break) the longest queue was less than one minute, 3 major lifts are Gondolas, have moving carpet loading for all chairs, and have kept 2 T-bars as a historical link to their past.

Originally had a T-bar up the mountain for a vertical rise of 1,600m from the valley, apparently took 30-35 minutes. On other mountain (2 linked) it was a single chair since the early 70s and on windy/cold days they'd take you off the chair, throw a sheepskin around you and push you into the restaurant next to it a the top for a free hot chocolate. My kind of customer service.

Accom - 160 sqm modern apartment (can sleep 12) 5 minute walk to biggest gondola, 5 minute walk to village (we like the quiet & private forest) - cost EUR 100/night for the 5 of us. Price has not changed since first year we went - 2005!
All gear hire for 5 of us (including re-waxes etc) for this year cost 1,161 - 25 days skiing - including helmets, skis, boots, poles. And the skis are never older than 2 seasons.
Food - 1/2 price or less vs Aust resorts and choice of 30+ fine dining cafes/restaurants with regional delicacies. 3 courses, on mountain for family under $100.
Beer - from 60 cents a litre from local supermarket and 2-3 Eur/litre in the bars/restaurants. This is for brands we sometimes get in Australia for several dollars a smaller can.
Bottle of Schnapps (most farms in the valley make their own - nothing like competition) normally min 500ml, from EUR 7.
Bottle of some Australian wines from local supermarket - cheaper than from our local DM.
 
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week or longer - believe it or not can be cheaper (including all airfares, accom, season pass (!!!), equip hire) to go to Japan or Europe.

Some very compelling arguments however, the OP said he was a beginner. A beginner is unlikely to go skiing for 3-4 weeks which is what is needed for Europe plus you didn't mention the actual costs of the airfare but you did mention 5 of you go. If we ignore points etc, airfares would cost, what, circa AU$10k for 5. What about the jetlag? I bet you aren't out skiing a whole day after a 25+ hour flight (or if you are, I salute you).

I just checked what I can get a 2 week (14 days of skiing) AU holiday for a family of 5 right now and it's $6162 including accommodation, food, lifts, skis. It's actually gone up since we did these family holidays (and we have all our own gear so don't hire), but still no where near even the airfares to EU. NZ would be competitive and of course Japan can be great given it's in our summer so not really a comparison, but EU for anything over a week??? I'd love to hear your secrets and I'll join you!
 

RAM

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Totally agree with you about a beginner not wanting to go for 2-3 weeks necessarily. However some do (the are masochists everywhere I suppose) and progress from beginner to intermediate.

School holidays is the important point, like for schoolies, prices get shoved up. (OTT - Byron Bay Accom prices for schoolies go up 3 fold+!! - ACCC where are you? Price per person in 1960s motel 30 minute walk out of town $1,200 for 7 nights - I suppose that is one way to introduce post-HSC students to the hard cruel world. I pointed out that including airfares they could go to Hawaii for 7 nights for less, stay at a better place etc etc. Too late friends had already booked)

To cover all bases and permutations I thought I'd show what I'd found for weekend to week costs in AUSTRALIA and then provide a comparison to what that provided overseas. Below is the break-up of my costing from 2005 FYI:

Priced this the first time for July school holidays in 2005 (looked to book it in Jan 2005 for July 2005) for 2 adults and 3 children (4-7 age range):
6 days accommodation in Thredbo in a 1 bedroom apartment with the 3 kids sleeping on a fold out sofa and a camp bed in the lounge/kitchen area (total unit size was under 40 sqm I think) and we got a double bed in the bedroom. Cost $5,100. For 2 bedroom unit it was over $7,000 something (did not write it down I was so shocked).

Cost of lifts & lessons Passes for 7 days for 2 adults and 3 children was just over $5,400 - there were no specials, family packages nothing available even 6 months out back then. Things are a much better now with advance purchase and a run of (not this year) bad seasons has seen the price fall and would cost around $3,300 in peak I think.

Cost of ski, boot and pole hire (no helmets back then) - near to $1,000, today it seems to have got better and is (currently, not sure about rate during school holidays) close to $800. This is for the rock-hopper skis not 'sport skis'.

Cost of clothes hire - a little over $400 (jacket & pants)


Cost of buying food on the mountain (lunches, drinks) and breakfast/dinner - $1,200 (20 lunches & drink - some with ski school for kids some with us), 35 breakfasts in the unit, 35 dinners - 15 out + 20 in unit). The Aust resorts have always gouged. As a Uni student in the 80s the cost for 1 tetra pack of juice on mountain was the cost of 11 from the supermarket in Jindabyne for example.

Total 2005 estimated cost (did not work out cost of National Parks entry, petrol, chains hire though) - $13,100. This was during school holidays remember, pricing up for now (non-school and non-uni holidays) will be cheaper and poor value has seen their prices come down since but still not really worth it IMHO.

Cost of airfares I ended up booking (flying Q to LHR and Air Britannia to Inn and BA cheapie from Munich to LHR, train from Austria - kids travel free, to Munich Airport) was $7,600 odd (always be careful hole punching cc statements) + $519 for train (go explore special offer), Brit ex LGW & BA. Accom (160sqm apartment @ EUR100 = AUD$165) - $1,150, Lifts - $450 (youngest Eur1 for the week), food less than $500 (free water at every location on the mountain - Leitungswasser. No charge for a glass either.) With kids they make their mountain with "ski wasser" (addictive, very addictive). Taxis - $85, Ski boots, poles - $550.

When we told hosts (accom) about hiring clothes they said no, take the free bus to train station instead. Rtn Train trip to 2 valleys over AUD9, Purchase 'name' quality ski gear for all (post Xmas/NY sales with 5 shops in sight of each other), for all 5 $870ish. Wife got 250Eur jacket, last one, Eur 59.95, I got Eur219 for 29.95 (hey I like fluro yellow although I did get called B1 for some reason?) - you get the picture. This included buying goggles as well. Such great value and sure glad we did as number one son lost his gloves on 2nd day!!!!!


Some very compelling arguments however, the OP said he was a beginner. A beginner is unlikely to go skiing for 3-4 weeks which is what is needed for Europe plus you didn't mention the actual costs of the airfare but you did mention 5 of you go. If we ignore points etc, airfares would cost, what, circa AU$10k for 5. What about the jetlag? I bet you aren't out skiing a whole day after a 25+ hour flight (or if you are, I salute you).

Always visit some now near 100yr Aunts for (used to be 4 days, now just 2 days..) in UK, 1st on day of arrival for a few hours (pre/post sugar hit at Tesco Extra/ASDA bakery), nowhere is a long drive in UK and all within 2 hours of London. Jetlag always seems to hit on coming back to Oz, never a problem going.

Having skied at Uni in Aust I learnt never to waste real snow, if there's snow I like to use it! This year I skied 23 days consecutively, rest of family wimped out - wife 21/23, kids 19,19,20/23.

{I was wrong in previous post - only 23 days skiing not 25! This year I get 34)

I just checked what I can get a 2 week (14 days of skiing) AU holiday for a family of 5 right now and it's $6162 including accommodation, food, lifts, skis. It's actually gone up since we did these family holidays (and we have all our own gear so don't hire), but still no where near even the airfares to EU. NZ would be competitive and of course Japan can be great given it's in our summer so not really a comparison, but EU for anything over a week??? I'd love to hear your secrets and I'll join you!

Have a look at "Tiscover" - in Austrian Tyrol virtually every valley = a different ski resort, only a slight exaggeration, so intense competition, if you want a "DYKWIA" resort like Kitzbuhel then prices are higher especially as the Russian Mafia (or their relatives) arrive by the chartered planeloads to be seen. Check out the name shops in the resort! If you want to ski, eat, meet locals who want you in their village then go a valley or two away (or 11 valleys for that matter).

Now all kids >12 so adults, in last 5 years have had fares (no Chinese, only 4-5 star airlines that I relatively trust, VA, EY, BA, Q - Yes Malaysian 4 years ago) for the 5 of us leaving Dec 27/28/29 back late Jan under $8000 once, under $9,000 twice and under $10,000 twice. Sometimes book journeys as separate legs. Last year booking Q from Inn-Syd cheaper than LHR-Syd even though INN-LGW part of route (yes I know landing fees cheaper at LGW but not by the cost differencenor the extra flight included on top).

This year Garuda mucked things up by listing a sub 23 hour (total time) each way for under $8,200 in early Feb. Did some rapid research and it was to be using brand new B777s (delivered mid/late 2014), won Skytrax multiple awards last year so figured I'd risk it. At the time I could have paid $8600 for combination of LH (A380) and someone else (I forget) but figured we'd see if Garuda deserved the awards they'd got. Only problem - they had not organised landing rights for UK. Flights deleted 2 months later, long & expensive story - still need counsellingfor sticker shock.


And NO! you cannot have the empty 7 beds in our apartment!!!!

If no reason to go to UK, do not.

Fly into MUC and catch the ICE train to Austria and transfer onto a local for your destination. Load up on essential items at one of the two supermarkets their (for the train trip of course, also if have a kitchen unit then their range of pork is nearly always great value). If you're lucky it is 90-100 minutes to getting a taxi up to your accom.

Nothing like 200kmh flying through the countryside.

Do not be late, German trains run on time and everyone on board expects you to make sure they do (if your bags are not on in seconds they are not happy!). In a good natured way - 2005 two other passengers helped load our bags while the conductor glared at me and my wife was herding our kids onto the train.

And no, this is not an elaborate excuse to get status credits. Just a happy side-effect.
 
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And NO! you cannot have the empty 7 beds in our apartment!!!!

Why not? :shock:......we don't eat much!

I do admire your ski ethics......but skiing a straight 23 days for me would put me 6' under I'm afraid. In fact, I have noted my lunch breaks are even getting longer and longer ;). Two to three days straight is nice for us until we need a flexi-day holiday!

Now my posts were actually referring to skiing on a budget, which can be done in Australia. Expensive holidays is also on offer and when compared with those, OS is cheaper but for budget ski holidays, especially for beginners, Oz is the cheapest. OS becomes cheaper for the dearer holidays and multi-week holidays or for combined holidays where skiing is just a part of an overall experience.

Last year my family skied NZ Nth Island on a 9 day holiday and although I haven't added it all up, my memory is that airfares were about $1500, accommodation was about $2300, hire car was $1100, fuel was a few hundred, lifts about $1300 (for 4 days) and food around $500.......or about $7k all up.....for 4 days of skiing and the snow was cough as well. No equipment hire in that as we own ours but had each lot serviced at about $50 or so each I think and to be honest, we had two platinum flyers which gave us the needed luggage to take our own gear. If we had to pay for luggage, it may have been better to hire over there, which would add more expense.

Now compare those 4 days of NZ skiing with the example of 14 days of AU skiing I gave above. Oz was cheaper for over three times the number of ski days. We also chose the Nth Island as NZ south Island airfare prices blew it out of the water.

Can others please add example costings, as I'd love to find out where I'm going wrong with OS skiing costs which are apparently so cheap?
 

Princess Fiona

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If a complete beginner skier, I still think it would be best to drive for a weekend away in NSW or Victoria before venturing further afield.
I just checked some prices and 2 days lift pass, 2 x 2 hour lessons inc ski/boots/poles is $211 at Selwyn, $352 at Thredbo, $360 at Perisher.

If I had never been on skis and wanted to get a feel for it before shelling out big dollars this is what I would do. I appreciate others have a different view.
After many Aussie trips, multiple NZ trips and this years trip to Whistler, we are saving our points like crazy to go back to BC as it was amazing :)
 
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