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The big white yonder of North America

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The big white yonder of North America

story by: Georgia Pell-Johnson

Light powdery snow, immaculately groomed pistes and virtually non-existent lift queues. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? No, we don’t think so either.

CANADA

Why we love Canada
Resorts, such as Banff, set in National Parks right in the heart of Canada’s history and wildlife, offer jaw drop­ping backdrops to complement your slope-side selfies. It’s no wonder so many Kiwi families are grabbing their bobble hats and jetting off to North America for a ski holiday. For those who like to stay on piste, Canada’s tree lined slopes are groomed to perfection so you can whizz down the mountain on soft fluffy snow. It may pay to be prepared for bitterly cold temperatures as those polar winds can get a little chilly, particularly as you head further north and into Canada.

When to go
The peak season stretches from January to late March. Perks are similar to the USA; great value in January, heaviest snowfall in February and beautiful springtime scenery throughout March. Families with very small chil­dren should be aware that Canada gets cold. Very, very cold. Top of the range ski gear aside, little fingers don’t tend to like really severe temperatures.

Getting there
It’s no secret that any flight to North America is a little lengthy, which is never fun with tiny tots in tow, but Whistler Blackcomb in Canada is, surprisingly, one of the fastest resorts to get to in the Northern Hemisphere. With direct flights from Auckland to Vancouver and just a 2.5 hour transfer from the airport you’ll be there in a flash… sort of.

What’s trending?
With superb tuition for all ages and abilities, Canada is a brilliant place to take the little’uns for beginners snow­sports. The country’s family friendly resorts, such as Big White, Silver Star, Sun Peaks and Whistler Blackcomb have great kids clubs and ‘stay and ski for free’ programmes for children under 12. Come nightfall, once they’re tucked up in bed, you’ll be able to enjoy an après ski session of your own. Take advantage of Canada’s impressive ski in, ski out accommodation, which allows you to put your skis on at the front door and be on the snow within minutes; no buses, no hassle. Thank you Canada!

More than just a ski resort
Snowmobiling, dog sledding, sleigh rides, snow tubing, ice skating, bars, restaurants, shopping... you get the jist. With so many purpose-built resorts across Canada we guarantee that you can keep the whole family entertained from dawn ‘til dusk.

What seals the deal?
Any NZ season pass holder can ski for free at Panorama Ski Resort. Couple that with a great exchange rate and you’ll have more dough in your pocket for multiple maple syrup pancakes.

The verdict
Even non-skiers know that Canada's snow record is faultless. The winter is seemingly endless and so are the opportunities to ski, board and sled. The big Canadian resorts are suited for every ability, but they excel when it comes to accommodat­ing children. With kids' camps and training programmes, the pistes are generally quiet, the beginner’s classes are reput­edly friendly and ski-in, ski-out accommodation, as well as slope-side resorts, make it all the more exciting (and conve­nient) for families.
 

USA

Why we love the USA
The USA, with its vast mountain ranges spanning the length of New Zealand, its iced snowy peaks and ski fields littering the landscape, caters for all your wintery needs. First things first, snow. You’ll be glad to hear that there won’t be a lack of it wherever you are in the USA’s top ski spots, notably the Rockies. Pow, pow and more pow, with guaranteed regular snow fall, resorts such as Vail and Steamboat boast world renowned powder and clear blue skies to make those off piste enthusiasts giddy. The higher the altitude, the truer this becomes and in Colorado, home to the highest peaks in North America, you’ll find an abundance of snow all season long.

When to go
January is the ‘good value month’, especially for fami­lies looking for a deal. The snow is unprecedented in February, and March offers some of the best spring skiing and blue-sky days you could ask for.

Getting there
From Auckland you can fly direct to LA in just over 12 hours. Once you arrive in LAX, the quickest option is to jump on a connecting flight to Denver or Colorado. Three hours later - hello snowy wonderland!

What’s trending?
The USA is becoming more and more well-known for some of the best backcountry and Cat Skiing in the world. Options range from day trips to backcountry programmes for both skiers and boarders, while some ski fields, such as Keystone and Copper Mountain even offer Cat Skiing for free. Home to North America's high­est peaks, Colorado’s steep and tricky terrain will keep the daredevils entertained for the entire holiday. If you want to cover some serious territory while the kids are at ski school, there are also several resorts in the USA offering unlimited access to multiple resorts on just one lift pass; Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Park City to name a few. If you still haven’t had enough of the white stuff, come dusk certain resorts offer night skiing too.

More than just a ski resort
In the USA, many of the resorts are situated in work­ing towns. Jackson Hole or Steamboat offer a real taste of Old West and give you the chance to soak up some cowboy culture. Think big, think American – there’s no shortage of huge malls and great outlet shopping, such as Silverthorne in Colorado, providing teenagers with the perfect holiday combo to work on both their on and off slope styles.

What seals the deal?
If you have a Ruapehu Season Pass, your HOT ski consultant can arrange a FREE lift pass for Copper Mountain, Winter Park and Steamboat. The pass, along with accommodation at specific resorts can all be arranged before you leave.

The verdict
The USA accommodates everyone. Due to its sheer size and vast terrain, everyone’s welcome. Novices can swap ski stories with gold medal winners, although their chosen slopes will be far apart. From complete beginners to powder-pros, compromise isn’t a word used readily in these parts. As family friendly as they are solo focused, and with competitive pricing on airfares with American Airlines, the USA opens up an endless amount of snow opportunities.

Planning a snowy escape? Talk to our experts Sarah and Carl at HOT Ski in Parnell. Bring your ideas in store, call them on 0800 754 468 or email infoski@hot.co.nz. 

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