Working a ski season in New Zealand
Do you need a visa: Yes, to work in New Zealand, British nationals will need a
working holiday visa. More information can be found on this page:
Ski season visas.
Do you have to learn another language:
It's debatable I suppose, but generally the language they speak in New Zealand is
recognisable English. Certainly easier to understand than a strong regional UK accent.
So you want to work in New Zealand
They have a climate and landscape not too dissimilar to our own, they eat good food and make decent ale, and they almost speak the same language, so starting or continuing your ski career in New Zealand makes perfect sense. Joking aside, a spine of volcanic mountains stretch the full length of this majestic country, offering up superb ski conditions on both the North and South Island. And because they are in the Southern Hemisphere they get snow in Summer, well winter. Our summer. It's something to do with minimum insolation and seasonal lag. Anyway, it means that when the snow melts in Europe and North America, you can head down under and keep yourself active.
So what are the resorts like?
The resort of Queenstown on Lake Wakatipu serves as a base for some of the better catered for ski slopes such as Coronet Peak, The Remarkables and Cardrona. If you are after an experience similar to the European Alps then The Remarkables is a Beaut. It's a bit more difficult to get to from Queenstown if that's where you're sleeping, but worth it. The other place to try is Wanaka, or Treble Cone, which are a short drive along State Highway 6. Queenstown and Wanaka both have the usual casual work that you would find in any city, especially Queenstown which is packed with restaurants, but both towns also act as a good starting point to get ski season related positions as this is where the main ski companies base themselves.
On North Island Mt Ruapehu is the biggest pull for snow seekers. The mountain is home to Whakapapa on its northern slope and Turoa ski field on the southern. It's a real playground too, with steep chutes, and perfect terrain for both ski and snowboard. Don't be put off by the fact this is very much an active volcano. One of the biggest in the world. That last erupted just a few years ago, and continues to rumble. To be honest there aren't all that many jobs to be had here - like the southern resorts, there are no staff living permanently on the mountain.
What months of the year can you work?
The New Zealand winter ski season runs from mid June to early October, slightly shorter at lower altitude and most companies will look to get their staff in place as early as February or March. On this page we feature some recruiters who offer training, instruction, qualifications and work placements. If you are thinking about extending your ski season, New Zealand is a great place to consider. There is often plenty of snow, and what doesn't fall is supplemented by the more than capable snow cannon.
As previously mentioned, the resorts in New Zealand are not quite like we find in Europe or North America, but they do offer some unique terrain, including fantastic heli skiing peaks. In case you have not come across heli skiing (and heli snowboarding!) before, the idea is to get a lift to the top of a mountain on a helicopter, then blast your way down through untouched snow. It's off piste, which makes it more exciting, but you usually travel down the mountain with an experienced guide. In fact, we currently have a training course in NZ for anyone who would like to become a heli ski guide. It's an awesome three week experience for real back trail enthusiasts looking to take steps towards becoming a professional guide.