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Wānaka Local Parents' Tips for your Family Ski Holiday

We asked a couple of local experts, Jay Smith and Leigh Fountain, to help with some top tips for a day skiing or snowboarding in NZ with your kids.

Watch their video guides and read a summary of their tips below!

Check out Jay's Rad Dad Guide to Cardrona here:

And Leigh's Rad Mum Ski Guide here: 

Family ski holiday tips and tricks

Check the Snow Report online first thing in the morning (the Cardrona one is updated at 6.30am daily) – the report will let you know what the weather, temperature and snow conditions are like that day. That will help you pack the right number of layers to wear and prepare your kids for what the day holds.

Before you leave, check and check again that you have everything! Start with each kid and work your way from their head down – from their helmet and goggles right to their socks and ski boots. Don’t forget to repeat the process for yourself too! If you forget something, it’s not the end of the world either; you can pick up most things either in the on-mountain retail shop or borrow them from Rentals.

The last thing to grab before you head out the door in the morning – snacks. Snacks for the road trip up the mountain, snacks to stuff in pockets for during lessons or on the chairlift, snacks for the drive home again. Snacks on the mountain keep things going…

Like a few other New Zealand mountains, Cardrona offers a couple of parking solutions for families. If you’re a single parent, you can often make use of single parent parks which are closer to the base buildings and make carrying gear (and kids) from the car much easier. If your car includes a couple of adults, use the drop off zone – drive right up to the base buildings, drop the kids and all the gear with the other adults, then drive to the lower carparks and walk or catch the shuttle back up.

If you can, drop the kids off to lessons or Ski Kindy for either a few hours or the whole day. Lessons are an investment into your long-term family ski experience – your kids will learn in a fun and safe environment, grow their confidence and the best part? You don’t have to teach them!

When you’re skiing/snowboarding together, make a plan of attack at the start of each run – decide where you’re meeting at certain points, and use the trail map as a guide if you’re as familiar with the ski area. Take plenty of breaks to get their energy levels back up.

For the end of the day, it pays to have a large plastic tub for the back of the car – you can throw all your wet/grubby gear into one place, and save the car from bearing the brunt of it. Then check the weather forecast for the next day, and get ready to do it all again tomorrow!

Get more tips for your family ski holiday here!