The ski season generally runs from June until early October on South Island, and into November on North Island. July and August are powder months, with spring conditions starting in September. Prices are slightly cheaper than in the States, with tickets typically US $50–$70. Here are a few tips for the New Zealand newbie:
- This is the trip to upgrade to business class. It's a long flight (about 13 hours from L.A.), and Air New Zealand's business-class seats convert into sleepers.
- Tipping is not necessary in restaurants and pubs, though Kiwis often give 10 percent for exceptional service. And make sure to ask for a "handle" rather than a pint when ordering beer.
- Lugging skis to New Zealand can be a hassle, so rent them there.
- Bring clothes for warm and cold weather, as New Zealand's climate is mild at lower altitudes but can be frigid at elevation.
- For help with lodging, activities, points of interest and other information, look for the abundant i-SITE visitor centers.
- If you're short on time, head straight for Queenstown, the South Island's ski—and outdoors—capital. It rocks.
- For ski information: snow.co.nz. For general info: visitorinfo.net.nz.