How does skiing and snowboarding in New Zealand compare to Slovenia and Europe? Well…
Skiing resorts around Queenstown are similar to the ones in Slovenia. There are no massive resorts when one valley would be connected to the other one and you could travel around on your skis/snowboard. Instead, they are perfect for day trips, to go skiing/snowboarding as a form of workout, and to spend a few hours on the weekend or before/after work in the mountains. And they are easily accessible, only about 20 minutes drive from the town centre (unless they make you to put chains on, then it takes muuuuuuch longer).
We have been really lucky with the snow this season. There is a saying: “Snow in May, it won’t stay. Snow in June, way to soon. On snow in July, you can rely.” The skiing resorts opened 2 weeks prior to what they estimated. It normally takes until mid-July for the resorts to fully open, however this time they have been operating in full swing already at the start of the season. We still need a bit more snow to be able to fully enjoy off-piste, however the weather forecast looks very promising.
One difference I noticed is that here you are much more encouraged to go off-piste than back home. There are groomed tracks, but there are also heaps of slopes that are left as they are. You are also encouraged to climb further up towards different summits, and there is a regular bus shuttle organised to pick you up from the bottom to take you back to where chairlifts start. To be fair, I haven’t skied in Slovenia (or Europe) for over 7 years now, so things might be different there by now, but I think there were way more ‘do not cross this boundary’ signs back home? Here, especially on days with bad visibility, I wish there were more :)! Also, for night skiing, there are heaps of lights set along the slopes but they are still quite wide spread so you are most of the time skiing/snowboarding in the dark. Quite a few people use head torches!
We are only at the start of the winter but the conditions feel more like in spring. The temperatures are around or below zero only in the night and early mornings, whereas during the day they often rise above zero, and even up to 10 degrees. I also think Kiwis are not exactly early risers. Somehow, I am always among the first ones on the mountain, and by the time the crowds show up (by crowds I mean I have to wait for maybe two or three chairlifts before it’s my turn), I am done and dusted :).