Free lift passes, working in the great outdoors, unlimited time to ski the fresh powder? Get real. Rumours had it that a position for shop staff in Queenstown had people queueing along the street for an interview during the 2010 season. As well as fruit picking, working a ski season is one of the reasons many backpackers travel to New Zealand. Don’t be fooled that you can turn up in Queenstown mid season and pick up a job the next day – there’s strict competition for jobs, and it helps if you plan it in advance, and arrive in the area prior to the start of the season. This guide will give you tips on how to get a season job on the New Zealand ski fields.
There’s a great variety of jobs in during the ski season from customer service reps, or instructors through to cafe staff and chambermaids. Many of these positions will be filled before you think about applying so how should you go about it?
At the risk of stating the obvious, remember that New Zealand is in the Southern Hemisphere. The winter season generally runs from July to October making it an ideal jump for Nothern Hemisphere season workers. Applications for some ski jobs open from January or before, and can close as early as March. Jobs generally start between mid June and early July. Competition for jobs and (affordable!) accommodation is fierce so it pays to be prepared and start the ball rolling as early as you can, and aim to be in the area as soon as you can. If you can’t fit into this schedule it could still be worth you making a few calls during the season as some staff may not last the whole season for a number of reasons.
Check out some of the links below for more information on the processes of applying.
Although the South Island is where the majority of jobs are based there are also major ski resorts in the central North Island. The main employers are :
North Island : Mt Ruapehu for Whakapapa and Turoa resorts (Central North Island)
South Island :
- Mt Hutt (Methven, west of Christchurch)
- Cardrona (Wanaka)
- Treble Cone (Wanaka)
- Coronet Peak and the Remarkables (Queenstown)
- Club fields – there are many club fields within a commutable distance from Christchurch
Wanaka is a much smaller town than Queenstown – less people, less commercial, and often preferred by many Kiwis.
If you have a speciality such as a snowsports instuctor qualification, can work the piste machines, a snowmaker, or ski patrol member you will have a better chance of being selected and may be able to be more specific. Note that snowsports instructors are officially listed in the skills shortage category on the New Zealand Immigration website so you could have other advantages for your visa as well!
There are a multitude of jobs available though from lift attendents to customer service and marketing – check out the websites below for a list.
Check out the following websites for more information specific to the ski areas mentioned :
Other general websites that may help :
If you have any experiences or stories to tell about working a ski season in New Zealand, please let us know the highs and lows using the comments below.