The Snow Gauge

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Ski pass hack: Aussie resort prices unravelled

Posted by on Apr 14, 2016 in Australia | 2 comments

skipass

The Snow Gauge explains:

  • The key base prices across resorts in a table
  • The word on season passes, right now
  • Why one resort has a big spring advantage

So, all ski resort prices in Australia are pretty much the same, right? Well, ummm, not quite.

Ok, if you bowl up for a day, on the day, you’re not going to notice too much difference at the five majors.

But I actually discovered some not insignificant price variations on a range of products as you’ll see overleaf.

What I did learn in 2016, is that trying to compare prices is trickier than stacking up health insurance.

Even attempting to find the cost of a day pass at Perisher gave me a migraine. Then I found out it wasn’t listed yet. Forty seven minutes of my life gone, just like that.

There are literally so many prices at different times of the year it can be hard to get your head around. I can already hear the resort marketers responding: “That comparison is unfair! You should note that if your name is Peter, and you buy the pass between 9 and 9.15am on Monday 21 July and are prepared to ski from August 2 to August 6, you’ll save another 17 per cent!”

Anyway, I’ve done my best here with some of the most popular products at the major five resorts based on “walk up” prices (that is not purchased in advance), peak season. And then I’ve made some broader notes and picked up some other significant ticket variations. Season pass prices are what you’ll pay as of April 14.

 

 

Passprices2016Season pass shenanigans

The above are the prices as of now (April 14). I won’t go into huge detail about what you can and can’t get at other times but I will make a few points:

  • It is very hard to go past the Epic Australia Pass for overall value. It currently stands as the cheapest but also with the most benefits for pure riding. We all know the lift pass is just a fraction of the equation on an overseas holiday but there are many great resorts on the Vail ticket and its (almost) unlimited use is fantastic. Thumbs up for the $489 student (up to Yr 12) price
  • Thredbo’s season pass offers use of the Leisure Centre but when purchased now does not include year-round access. You have to get the 365 pass at the end of this season for summer and then use the following winter. There are a range of fantastic resorts accessible under the Mountain Collective agreement but it is let down by only allowing two free days at each area. It’s also an extra $100 to add the full benefits to the $999 season pass. Give us at least seven days access to these resorts and then we’ll talk!
  • At $749 the Mt Hotham and Falls Creek combined pass is sweet. At $1549 it’s a bit stiff. I’d really love to see them extend the cheap offer beyond mid-October. I feel end of April the following year is reasonable.
Perisher

Perisher – goes alright when there’s snow about eh. Pic: Perisher Facebook

You may as well throw in some lessons at Perisher:

  • As little as $62 more for five lessons with the 5 day pass – why not? Stacks up really well compared to the other resorts. The price in the table is based on lessons at Blue Cow which come in cheaper.

But Thredbo does a job on Perisher in early spring …

  • Thredbo’s final price band for the season starts on August 29 – so for the period through to September 12 – when Perisher’s next level kicks in – it’s advantage Thredders. A walk-up 5 of 7 day drops from $526 to $417 and again to $364 for a seven-day advance. A two-day walk-up ticket goes from $234 to $189 and down to $168 for the seven-day advance. Perisher’s two-day walk up during the period is still $250 and walk up 5 for 4 still $594 so there’s quite the gap there.
Thredbo

Thredbo – has some spring time advantages. Pic: Thredbo Facebook

Other things to note:

  • Mt Buller has tertiary prices for students which can save up to 20 per cent on some passes. On the negative side of the ledger their five-day lift and lesson packages only have three lessons. The prices for lessons drop in the afternoon
  • Hotham/Falls do 50 per cent off the adult rate for tertiary student day passes on Mondays and Fridays.
Mt Buller

Students – you are welcome at Mt Buller. Just leave your Che Guevara t-shirts at home eh. Pic: Mt Buller Facebook

Conclusions

Ski pass combinations are extraordinarily complex and comparisons can be tricky. You will certainly save if you are buying in advance but of course you are trading that off against the unpredictability of the conditions. Season passes are increasingly the way to go – and are following the theme park model of offering far better value over multiple trips. Bought well in advance, this value only increases. Now, if only our seasons were as predictable as a trip to Wet ‘N’ Wild …

Mt Hotham

Just a gratuitous use of a very cool shot from Mt Hotham. That is all. Pic: Mt Hotham Facebook

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2 Comments

  1. The difference in Spring prices with Perisher and Thredbo may be related to lower hill conditions at Thredbo in September, it usually fade pretty quick v.s. Perisher being above the snow line. I’ve torn the bottom out of 2 sets of skis at Thredbo in September – all those rocks they push up with the man-made snow on the lower slopes in spring!

    • Good point Tony and one I had considered. Those first two weeks tend not to be too bad in September though. Drops off rather sharply thereafter. I never have high expectations for the bottom third of Thredbo. When there’s good coverage there it’s the best in Australia. Next stop – infrastructure upgrades!

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