Where Are The Best Places To Snowboard In The Southern Hemisphere?

It’s that time of the year when people in the Northern Hemisphere are losing their minds because there is no snow to make sweet shredding love to. They are comforted however by warmer weather and lots of sun. For those chionophiles of the world, this will not be enough and the need for snow is near-manic. What do you do? You come to the Southern Hemisphere where it’s dumping of course. A few New Zealand resorts have already opened with some decent early snowfalls and Australian snowfields recorded over a metre of snow in the last few days.

Below we have compiled what we think are the Top 20 Southern Hemisphere Resorts to Snowboard and Ski on this side of the globe. Where have you made tracks? Can you give us your vote for the best in the Southern Hemisphere in our poll? I am yet to visit Argentina or Chile and have started buttering up the boss for an educational tour. Fat chance! Have you been, where is the best?!

And for those still wondering WTF, a chionophile is…….chionophiles are any organisms (animals, plants, fungi, etc.) that can thrive in cold winter conditions.

What's your favourite place to shred in the Southern Hemisphere?

20 AWESOME SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE PLACES TO SHRED


ARGENTINA

CERRO CAVIAHUE, ARGENTINA

CAVIAHUE sits at the base of a very active Volcano so definitely offers some adventure options. They have dog sledding, snowmobile rides, waterfalls, the local lake at the base of the mountain plus cross country and snowshoe options. They also have hot springs, no line queues and options to ski or board sections of the volcano. The resort is beginner and intermediate heavy with little difficult and varying terrain. Downsides I have read include regular ash falling on the resort (from the volcano) and little English being spoken in the village.

There are limited but decent food, drink and accommodation options. All the challenges in the world still make that above backcountry look worthy of the trip.

RUNS: 21

LIFTS: 11

PARK OPTIONS: NO

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 6.7m

TERRAIN:
30%
40%
30%
30%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★★☆☆


CERRO CASTOR, ARGENTINA

CERRO CASTOR is the southernmost snow resort on earth. It isn’t known for its huge snowfalls but more it’s regular snowfalls. The elevation at just over 1000m and it seems to be popular by people-in-the-know because it is not one of the larger more populated snowfields. The accommodation options are light with only one option but there are a few eating options to choose from. The better option for accommodation would be to stay 26km away in the larger city of Ushuaia which offers more accommodation options and a larger nightlife scene.

CERRO CASTOR has no park facilities but some challenging backcountry options that will give split-boarders a big grin!

RUNS: 27

LIFTS: 11

PARK OPTIONS: NO

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 3-6m

TERRAIN:
33%
22%
30%
15%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★★☆☆


CERRO CATEDRAL, ARGENTINA

At 1200 hectares (3000 acres) CERRO CATEDRAL has the largest lift-accessed ski terrain in South America, approximately half of which is off-piste terrain. This mega ski resort has 1150 metres (3773 ft) of vertical drop and 120km of slopes.

CERRO CATEDRAL is known for the good tree skiing, and experts also have a range of alpine off-piste options as well as backcountry chutes and bowls. And for terrain park junkies there’s a decent park.

The downsides are reports of regular wet powder and lift lines to make you murderous although they have recently spent a lot of money upgrading resort lifts to lessen queues. Consider this a family commercial resort. The one everyone flocks to because it has a huge resort and a village with a lot of accommodation, food and things to do.

RUNS: 38

LIFTS: 36

PARK OPTIONS: YES – 1

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 6m

TERRAIN:
17%
35%
26%
22%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★★★☆


LAS LENAS, ARGENTINA

LAS LEÑAS is the Argentinian resort I need to visit. It’s a tricky gamble to head here especially if coming from another country. Firstly it’s quite a trek and out of the way but the amenities are good in the village with lots of accommodation, dining and nightlife. But the big gamble is the boarding. Las Leñas has some of the most epic runs in the world if the snow has fallen in the Marte section. Marte opens the entire backcountry terrain that sees pro-skiers and boarders visiting from around the world. But if the Marte lift is closed then the resort shrinks significantly and this happens quite regularly.

They do offer cat skiing options to the massive amounts of terrain on offer but again, if the snow is good. I cannot find out if this is reliant on Marte or not but it appears most of the resort is reliant on this one lift and section being open. They also offer a park but can’t see how good it is on any of the videos. The concentration at this place is the off-piste terrain if you hadn’t already gathered.

Another bonus is they offer one of the longest runs in the world at just under 7km!! And while the resort attracts the pros it offers plenty for families and beginners.

One thing I have discovered while researching Argentinian resorts, they operate quite different to the way people in the USA or Canada or even Australia expect. Do not be alarmed if the power goes off or lifts close unexpectedly and do not expect the time of things to run as strictly as it does in Japan – have more of an open relaxed mind and expect the unexpected.

RUNS: 30

LIFTS: 13

PARK OPTIONS: YES – 1

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 6m

TERRAIN:
15%
45%
35%
5%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★★☆☆


AUSTRALIA

CHARLOTTE’S PASS, AUSTRALIA

CHARLOTTE PASS holds a special place in my heart – back in the 80s it’s where I learned to ski. For years we would come to this place and my winter experiences basically evolved from here. It is some of the best snow in Australia and is incredibly secluded. There are no cars – you can only get here via over-snow transport. There are basically never any queues and it feels more like a private resort. There are quite a few lodges available and a bar and nightclub as well as a couple of eating venues. Most of the time you would bring in your food with you and cook in your lodge or you would be staying at a lodge that has food provided.

It is the highest elevated resort in Australia at 1760m and is one of the oldest resorts in Australia. At the top of the resort on a clear day, you have uninterrupted views of the Open Range to Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s tallest mountain.

Charlotte Pass is more suited to families, beginners and intermediates, the runs aren’t massive and the resort is tiny in world comparisons. There was a winter we stayed here in 1984, it snowed so much quite a few of the lift poles were completely covered in Perisher – it is still one of the biggest seasons on record for Australia. It was the end of the school holidays and on the day we were meant to be collected we found out the over-snow transport had been cancelled and we missed about three days of school as we had to stay at Charlotte Pass until we could get out, there was too much snow for over-snow – we had days of awesome skiing haha. Best excuse to miss school ever!

RUNS: 24

LIFTS: 5

PARK OPTIONS: YES – 1

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 2.8m

TERRAIN:
33%
29%
38%
0%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★☆☆☆


FALLS CREEK, AUSTRALIA

FALLS CREEK is the biggest ski resort in Victoria, Australia. With only 14 lifts it has 92 run options ranging from beginner to advanced. It is 60% intermediate although does offer a plethora of black runs. It is a very modern and efficient resort that has the best of all amenities. The accommodation, restaurants, nightlife and things to do makes this a much sort after destination for skiing and boarding in Australia.

The park facilities are impressive with progressive parks starting at simple and easy through to professional level. You can do backcountry tours, cross country, fat wheel biking and snow-biking plus they have night skiing, snow-tubing, snowmobiling, snow-shoeing and tobogganing has still not been made illegal in this state. They also have a limited heli-lift and scenic heli-rides between Falls Creek and Mount Hotham. It is strictly weather controlled and starting at $170- I am not sure how much I would need to get to the other resort for a day of boarding. Pity they don’t have some heli-boarding and skiing in there to some backcountry pow!!

FALLS CREEK may not have the scale of North American resorts but it’s one great overall resort with world-class facilities and I am aiming for a week here sometime in the next three months.

RUNS: 21

LIFTS: 14

PARK OPTIONS: YES – 3 options, Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced – plus 2 runs with boxes and rails

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 4m

TERRAIN:
17%
60%
23%
0%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★★★☆


MT BULLER, AUSTRALIA

Mt Buller is the most accessible resort in Australia. It is only a three-hour drive from the centre of Melbourne and the closest Australian resort to an international airport. The village itself is in the middle of the mountain making nearly every lodge ski in and ski out. For the people that like a wee beverage Mt Buller is home to 30 bars and restaurants and they have the most amount of beds in any resort being able to sleep 8000.

They offer some great Park Terrain and 35% advanced terrain when the snow is in top form. They don’t have a lot of annual snow but their snowmaking facilities are up there as some of the best in Australia and Mt Buller has a lot of green initiatives in place.

This is really a snow village resort with a lot of stuff on offer when not on the mountain. They have Australia’s highest days spa as well as a cinema, rock climbing and abundant shops. This would make a great resort to work at!

RUNS: 41

LIFTS: 22

PARK OPTIONS: Yes – 4 of varying skill level

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 2.5m

TERRAIN:
20%
45%
35%
0%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★★★☆


MT HOTHAM, AUSTRALIA

Mt Hotham is a winner for Australian skiing and boarding. They are known for a larger mountain area of more challenging runs. They still have plenty of terrain for beginners but their advanced and expert runs are in higher proportions. I am yet to visit here but really want to find the time. They also have some great park terrain with two parks plus a ski/ boardercross course that looks like a hell of a lot of fun. From what I have read it appears Hotham is also less crowded than other local resorts and their scenery is impressive.

In Victoria Hotham records constantly higher snowfall than its local competition but at only three metres, while awesome for Australia, compared to Japan it is a light dusting. Amenity wise they have it all but Mt Hotham is spread out, it is not a tight village. There is an option to stay in the amazing village of Dinner Plain – about 10km drive away and one huge bonus I need to try….. they have the experience of snowshoeing out to a three-course meal in a giant tipi that has an internal fireplace. You can then actually Glamp in the snow with a clear viewing roof in your tent. I need to try this!!!

RUNS: 67

LIFTS: 13

PARK OPTIONS: YES – 2 plus a skier/boardercross course

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 3m

TERRAIN:
20%
40%
25%
15%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★★★☆


PERISHER, AUSTRALIA

Perisher is my home mountain. I may have learned in Charlotte Pass but it is Perisher I have spent most of my time at. It is not only Australia’s but the Southern Hemisphere’s, biggest resort spanning seven mountain peaks, 47 lifts and 1245 hectares of rideable terrain. It is an amalgamated resort of Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow and Guthega – at one time all separate mountains but now all connected. They are also now owned by Vail Resorts and their ticketing is included in the Vail Resorts Epic Pass.

On a good day, Perisher is unbeatable. So much terrain and so many places to go. There are restaurants and eateries spread out throughout the mountain but it does have its downsides. Both Thredbo and Perisher are two of the windiest ski resorts in the world. The Australian slopes are quite low and ‘flat-ish” with limited peaks to shelter from the wind – it can blow up a storm over the open ranges and blast Perisher. Further to this Perisher is quite limited in dining and aprés atmosphere. I have found the better times at Perisher are staying in a lodge with a restaurant or a large kitchen and your group can bring in your own breakfast and dinner options and eat out on the mountain for lunch.

The best news about Perisher is the parks and pipes, literally the best in the Southern Hemisphere. They have five terrain parks, two half pipes and two skier/ boardercross courses. The best boarders in the world travel here to train in their off-season and it is not uncommon to see an international snowboarding gold medalist shredding to the right of Front Valley in one of the parks.

RUNS: 113

LIFTS: 47

PARK OPTIONS: The Best in the Southern Hemisphere

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 2.5m

TERRAIN:
22%
60%
17%
1%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★★★☆


THREDBO, AUSTRALIA

If you live in New South Wales, Australia and you snowboard or ski it will come down to one very important question: “Perisher or Thredbo?” – you will belong to one of these camps and you will passionately defend your mountain. These two mountains are the big guns of the NSW snowfields.

Thredbo is more styled on European mountain villages. Nearly everything is close together with the accommodation slightly spreading out. Compared to Perisher Thredbo is quite cosmopolitan with a lot more fancier restaurants and shops and even a small supermarket. It boasts the longest vertical drop of the Aussie ski resorts at 672m and the Crackenback Supertail can run to 3.5kms in length, it kills the thighs by the end. It’s skill levels for riding are about the same as Perisher with the difference being Thredbo has longer runs with a small resort where Perisher’s resort spreads out forever with shorter runs. Thredbo also has the highest lift in the country at 2037m but on world standards, it is pretty average.

One thing Thredbo does have in common with Perisher is excellent park options. Four parks ranging in skill levels, two skier/ boardercross courses and a moguls course designed to ruin your knees for years to come. Thredbo also has some insane backcountry for the expert riders.

When it comes to hitting up the slopes in Australia it comes down to a few factors but one of the more important is which one can you afford? Shop around, skiing and boarding in Australia are far from cheap and it could nearly be worth saving the pennies for an early year Japan trip. Maybe do weekenders in Australia and larger vacations in the Japow.

RUNS: 53

LIFTS: 14

PARK OPTIONS: 4 of varying level, 2 skier/ boardercross courses and a mogul slope

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 2m

TERRAIN:
16%
67%
17%
0%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★★★☆


CHILE

PORTILLO, CHILE

Portillo just made my #1 resort to visit. I would be happy to visit just for the pool!! Or what about annual snowfall of 7.4m!! That’s 25ft!! Portillo is 55% advanced and expert in runs and the steepness of the slopes is a major drawcard for adrenaline junky skiers and snowboarders. They entered the international world in 1966 when they were the first South American resort to host the World Skiing Championships and in 1978 someone broke the 200km barrier mark while skiing on the mountain. Warren Miller even listed this place as one of the Top 10 Ski Resorts in the World.

They offer a lot of backcountry riding, no lift queues, and heli-skiing. What isn’t there to love?! The resort ONLY has 450 beds and there are only three places to stay but it is a large group experience with guests dining together and the famed resort does offer everything you need from a club, bars, gym, a cinema, jacuzzis and their famed swimming pool. One thing I did read is you eat on South American standards so your dinner meal is from 930pm!! I would be truly sloshed by this stage.

I cannot locate a park in Portillo in any of the articles I have read, sorry. Hopefully, the backcountry makes up for it.

RUNS: 35

LIFTS: 14

PARK OPTIONS: NO

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 7.4m

The famous Portillo Chile Pool - Image from CNN Travel
The famous Portillo Chile Pool – Image from CNN Travel

TERRAIN:
15%
30%
30%
25%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★★★★


VALLE NEVADO, CHILE

Valle Nevado (pronounced Va- Ye Nevado) reads like the Perisher of Chile. It is a modern and vast resort. Its huge bonus is that it is only 90mins from Santiago and you can self-drive or get transfers. They get about 7m of snow a year (more than double that of Perisher) and for South American resorts it has some of the best English speaking staff. THEY HAVE PARKS!! Two of them from what I can find and the resort, like Perisher, links up with two other resorts, La Parva and El Colorado.

The off-piste runs are huge and Valle Nevado offers heli-skiing but it isn’t cheap. They are located at a huge 3670m above sea level and due to their position between 6000m peaks could be considered a valley. Thanks to their location their powder is impressive. The wind mostly blows snow onto the mountain from the higher peaks filling up slopes with pow – this is a huge advantage to other local resorts as they do not get this “Valle Nevado phenomenon.”

The resort is not cheap but it is the most modern in South America being built by the French in the 80s. The lifts are mostly all high-tech and the resort offers a full-service infrastructure that includes a pub, spa, retail shops, new conference centre, and an extensive, ever-growing range of lodging alternatives to choose from. Six restaurants give plenty of food options. Another on my wish list to visit!

RUNS: 44

LIFTS: 14

PARK OPTIONS: Yes – 2

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 7m

TERRAIN:
10%
36%
33%
21%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★★★☆


NEW ZEALAND

AORAKI MT COOK, NEW ZEALAND

Aoraki Mt Cook is the most unique mountain on the list. It has no dedicated resort or any lifts and is only accessible via heli-skiing or plane. Aoraki means cloud piercer and at 3754m is the tallest mountain in Middle Earth aka New Zealand.

Considering that Mt Cook is permanently snow-covered, it’s not surprising that the area is a bit of a skiing mecca during winter. Mount Cook heli-skiing companies include Alpine GuidesHarris Mountains and Mt Cook Heliski.

Alpine Guides also offer the famous “Ski the Tasman” tour which is plane accessed skiing on the majestic Tasman Glacier. The runs are leg-burningly long, but the experience pales into insignificance in comparison to the spectacular scenery. It should be noted – these runs are not expert runs, they are more intermediate based with options for advanced, but your guided tours would be tailored by your guide based on your experience and wishes. Alpine Guides offers a lot of courses in avalanche survival, mountaineering and backcountry adventures.

Mt Cook Heli-Skiing - Image from Snowsbest
Mt Cook Heli-Skiing – Image from Snowsbest

Glacier Heli-Skiing and Tasman Glacier Heli-Ski areas include:

The Tasman Glacier Region:
Hochstetter Shoulder 2635m (8645ft) 1135 vertical metres. Run lengths 10-12km
Aylmer Col 2628m (8622ft). Run lengths 10-12km
The Murchison Glacier:
Aylmer Col – Tasman Saddle/Headwall 2628m (7988ft) 1275 veritcal metres. Run length 10km
The Mannering Glacier: Via Taman Saddle and Starvation Saddle 2210m (7251ft). Run length 5km
Darwin Glacier Bowls: 2327m (7634ft) 850 vertical metres. Run lengths 5.5km 2346m (7697ft) and run length 6km
Richardson Glacier at 2100m, (just outside the park). Run length of 5.5km.

RUNS: Unlimited pending on the drop off

LIFTS: 0

PARK OPTIONS: NO

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 4.5m

TERRAIN:
0%
33%
33%
33%

OFFICIAL SITE

Overall Rating ★★★★★


CARDRONA, NEW ZEALAND

Cardrona Alpine Resort is New Zealand’s most popular ski area, attracting all kinds of snow enthusiasts – from beginners and families to Olympic and X-Games athletes. It is known as the best all-rounder resort in New Zealand and while it is 75% beginner and intermediate in its runs it does offer some good, advanced slopes. They have four terrain parks and have hosted international events for snowboarding. We covered the Audi Quattro Winter Games there last year and while I wasn’t there the guys loved it.

On mountain there are some great but limited accommodation options, however in New Zealand, especially on the South Island, most people will stay in Queenstown or Wanaka – can’t recommend Queenstown enough – such an epic place! Cardrona sits between the two with Wanaka 33km away and Queenstown a picturesque 57km drive. There are five cafes on the mountain for lunches so you are sorted for food while shredding.

RUNS: 38

LIFTS: 6

PARK OPTIONS: Yes – 4 of them

ANNUAL SNOWFALL: 2.7m

TERRAIN:
25%
50%
25%