The biggest secret to warm and crowd-free snow sports, with cheaper lessons and passes, is... Spring, explains Aana Marinovich.
I am loathe to share this secret of mine, but it’s too good not to. While the masses are taking family snow holidays in July, with less snow, more crowds, and peak season rates, we bide our time... Knowing that spring is the snow industry’s best-kept secret. Last year I whooped with joy as the kids and I skied completely alone down The Gut at Whakapapa, on a bluebird day (one of five in a row), wearing T-shirts, not a soul to be seen (so unheard of, we wondered if there was an avalanche warning everyone else knew about that we didn’t).
Get to know the spring conditions, and you’ll never look back. Don’t rush out of bed, let the snow warm up a bit, and stay on the groomed runs for the first two hours. The melt from the day before becomes icy, so it needs to thaw, and then between 11.30am and 3pm you can go off piste and ski all over. After 3pm, it starts to melt a bit so you may want to call it a day.
Why skiing is so good in spring
» It’s a lot warmer, so you aren’t dealing with grizzly, cold kids. Little fingers stay warmer, playing in the snow can last longer, and you don’t need quite so many layers.
» The snow is soft and forgiving, which can make it easier to ski (and fall).
» It gets cheaper, so watch out for special spring passes. As you get closer to Labour weekend, skifields generally cut the price of lessons, so I book the kids in for
a season wrap-up of skills and they are often the only kids in the group lesson!
» It's blissfully quiet. This means no queues (unless the secret really gets out) and you can arrive at a leisurely time and still get a space in the top car park.
» Gear is on sale, and you can even purchase the ex-rentals at this stage.
» It’s much easier to get accommodation in the September school holidays than it is in the July school holidays. If you’re in Ohakune, the town becomes quieter in spring and it’s easier to get into restaurants and stock up at the supermarket. For Clubbies, lodges normally have spaces available.
» You need not fear lack of snow as much as you (should) do in July. This spring is looking the best they've had in the last five years.
7 ways for kids to enjoy the snow
- kBuilding snowmen
- Snow ball fights
- Hill sliding on black polythene
- Making snow angels
- Building a snow cave or tunnel