Thanks to the reverse seasons in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand-bound travelers will be able to enjoy the ski season until October.
You'll find budget accommodations for young travelers near most major ski resorts. You should be able to find dormitory accommodations for under $15 N.Z. (about $11 U.S.) a night, but call and check to see about space before heading out with your luggage.
The average cost of a one-day lift ticket at popular ski fields such as Mt. Hutt, Cornet Peak and the Remarkables is $38 N.Z. Mt. Cook offers good budget accommodations, but the only way you can get to the top of a run is by using pricey plane or helicopter services.
Mt. Hutt has the longest ski season in the Southern Hemisphere. During winter months the Methven Trotting Club converts some buildings into a ski hostel. There are dormitory facilities for 48 people at $11 N.Z. a night.
Methven is 25 kilometers from Mt. Hutt and 91 kilometers from Christchurch. Buses call at the hostel each morning to transport skiers.
One of the most popular winter/summer resort areas is Queenstown, which is only 25 minutes from the Cornet Peak ski area and 50 minutes from the Remarkables.
At 80 Lake Esplanade on the shore of Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu is a large, modern hostel that can accommodate up to 100 visitors for $13 N.Z. a night. It's a scenic location but has a midnight curfew.
Mt. Cook National Park has all of New Zealand's mountains higher than 3,000 meters. The park's new youth hostel is the pride and joy of the New Zealand hosteling system, accommodating up to 51 people at $13 N.Z. a night.
The drawback at Mt. Cook is that skiers have to fly to the top of the runs, which is too expensive for most budgets. For example, a day package that includes flying for two 20-kilometer runs with a guide and lunch costs $340 N.Z.
The closest ski field to Christchurch is Porter Heights, 100 kilometers away. There are two youth hostels in Christchurch--the central Rolleston House Hostel, 5 Worcester St., at $13 N.Z. a night, and the Cora Wilding Hostel, 9 Eveleyn Couzins Ave., $11 N.Z. a night. Daily buses serve the ski area.
About 225 kilometers from Christchurch is a youth hostel on a shore of Lake Tekapo for $11 N.Z. a night. From the hostel a daily bus runs to the Round Hill ski area. You'll also find cross-country skiing near the hostel and ice skating on the lake.
About 71 kilometers from Queenstown you can stay at the Wanaka hostel at 181 Upton St. Family and twin rooms are $11 N.Z. per person a night. From the hostel a daily ski bus service goes to the Treble Cone and Cardrona ski areas.
Turoa Skifield is at Mt. Ruapehu, the highest mountain on North Island. Budget accommodations are available at the foot of the mountain at the Ohakune hostel on Clyde Street. It has 32 beds in family and twin rooms for $11 N.Z. per person a night.
There are no age restrictions for the use of youth hostels in New Zealand, but many require membership in the International Youth Hostel Federation.
Join your local association before leaving home. Members are eligible to buy a special bus pass for New Zealand's Newmans Coach Lines. The pass allows unlimited travel in any 10 days during a 30-day period. The cost is $245 N.Z.
For details, contact YHA Travel offices. In Auckland the office is at the corner of Customs and Gore streets; in Christchurch it's 28 Worcester St., and in Wellington it's 40 Tinakor Road.
For more information on travel to New Zealand, contact the New Zealand Tourist & Publicity Office, 10960 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1530, Los Angeles 90024; phone (213) 477-8241.