When travelling to ski New Zealand, most people fly in to Auckland or Wellington on the North Island, or Christchurch on the South Island. Some flights from Australia fly directly into Queenstown, but these seem to fill quickly, and can be very expensive. Flying to New Zealand from the East Coast of Australia takes approximately 4 hours from Melbourne and Sydney and 4.5 hours from Brisbane, depending on whether your destination is Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch or Queenstown.

Flying to / from Queenstown
Air New Zealand offers flights in and out of Queenstown to Australia during winter as follows:
Melbourne - Saturday and Wednesday
Brisbane - Thursday and Saturday
Sydney - most days of the week

Qantas offers direct flights to Melbourne (Sunday) and Sydney (Saturdays and Wednesdays) and Brisbane (Saturdays via Sydney). Unfortunately, Qantas direct flights are very expensive if you aren't lucky enough to get an 'early bird' seat. See the Queenstown tourism site for more information on flight times to Queenstown.

Flying to / from Christchurch
When flying directly from the east coast of Australia there are several options including Qantas, Air New Zealand, Virgin Pacific and Jetstar. Not all flights between Australia and New Zealand are direct, so check the fine print. Qantas in particular sometimes fly via Auckland which can extend flight times from 3hrs and 20 mins from Melbourne to 7 to 12 hours.

Air New Zealand has several direct flights from the east coast each day and they are generally far cheaper than Qantas. Jetstar offers daily flights from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane starting at $154 (ex taxes) one-way. Virgin offers a couple of direct flights to Christchurch each week starting at $114 (ex taxes) one-way. Some of the cheaper airlines may have return flights that are very early in the morning. Emirates are another option but they only fly out of Sydney.

Flying to /from Auckland
You will not have any difficulty finding flights to Auckland with many carriers covering the route from various Australian cities. Carriers will include Qantas, Virgin Blue (Pacific Blue), Air New Zealand, Air China and Emirates who only fly out of the east coast cities.

Flying to / from Wellington
Qantas, Virgin Blue (Pacific Blue) and Air New Zealand are examples of carriers you could consider.

Search for cheapest flights here>>


Visa requirements Australians do not require a visa to holiday or work in New Zealand, and have the right to stay forever if they wish.
Road Travel Times in the South Island

Methven Mt Cook Wanaka Q/Town
Christchurch

1

4.5

5.5

6

Methven

0

4

4.5

5

Mt Hutt

0.5

4.5

5

5.5

Mt Cook

3.5

0

2.5

3.5

Dunedin

4.5

4.5

3.5

3.5

Wanaka

4

2.5

0

1

Queenstown

5

3.5

1

0


Road Travel Times in the North Island (hours/minutes)

Auckland

Whakapapa

Turoa

Wellington

Auckland

-

4:35

4:50

8:45

Rotorua

3:10

2:30

3:00

6:20

Whakapapa

4:35

-

0:40

4:40

Turoa

4:50

0:40

-

4:05

Wellington

8:45

4:40

4:05

-


Getting Around Driving times are generally longer than expected due to hills, corners and bad road conditions. Of course, the travel times for New Zealanders will be less considering the break-neck speeds at which Kiwis drive. The road toll in New Zealand is higher than in Australia, but speed is not the only contributing factor. Ask a Kiwi about the drink driving laws and what the blood-alcohol-content limit is – bet they can’t tell you.

The highway infrastructure is somewhat limited once you are a little distance away from major cities. Don’t take safety barriers on the sides of the road for granted. One-way bridges are pretty common on fairly major roads, so keep your wits about you. Other road hazards might include tourists stopping on the side of the road to take photographs of the awesome scenery, or a huge flock of sheep completing blocking the road.

The roads up to the ski resorts are even more primitive, the majority with gravel or mud roads. With a little snow on top, the roads can then become perilous. Chains are not compulsory, but they are essential. Purchase a ground sheet otherwise you’ll regret it when you have to lie down on the incredibly muddy roads to put chains on. Everyone has a different theory as to why the roads have not been paved, but it’s likely to be a sheer cost factor. Unfortunately for many visitors to New Zealand the safety of the mountain roads is a major detractor.

The carparks at the resorts are also a disadvantage of skiing in New Zealand. They are generally in a bad state and full of mud – disgusting actually. It’s not possible to keep your shoes, clothing or car clean after visiting one of the car parks. Another tip – don’t leave your roof racks up or the keas might have a field day munching on the rubber.

Some hire car operators don’t allow their cars to travel up the ski field access roads, so make sure you check this.

Most rental car companies will require that the driver needs to be a minimum of 21 years of age. An international drivers license is another requisite, but there are reciprocal driving rights between New Zealand and most other countries.

Also beware of the road rule of giving way to vehicles turning right (this is the same as the old Victorian road rule before they came to their senses).

Buses are the other option for getting around. If you’re just going to one or two resorts, then shuttle buses will suffice, but if you want to explore multiple areas, car hire will provide you with more flexibility. As a general rule, the buses are fairly expensive.

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