Comparison of the week: Snow trip in New Zealand vs Japan
Both are meccas for winter sports enthusiasts, but which is better?
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If the idea of barrelling down a mountain of snow sends your heart aflutter then you can't go past experiencing New Zealand or Japan's snowfields. Many would agree (myself included) that they're both a cut above what Australia has to offer.
But which is worth hightailing it across the seas and cashing in annual leave to get to? We've sussed the answer out for you.
|Flight time||This depends on your starting city.
From Perth you'd be looking at a flight time of 10+ hours to Queenstown on a non-direct flight.
From Sydney you can get in within 3 hours on a non-stop flight.
|This also depends on your starting city.
From Perth your flight to Tokyo comes in at 13 hours and is non-direct while from Sydney it takes 9.5 hours non-stop.
Cairns is one of the shortest trips, taking 7.5 hours.
|Airport distance to snow fields||Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand and while not the only snow field in the country, is one of the best known.
From its airport you can hit the slopes within 30 minutes.
|Some of Japan's most highly regarded snowfields are up north in Hokkaido.
While you can fly into Sapporo Airport to get to them, most flights from Australia take you to Tokyo or Osaka where you'll then have to transfer onto an internal flight.
There are snowfields close to Tokyo, though they're more local and less well-known. From the airport you can get to some of them on the train within two hours.
|Amount of holiday leave you need to take||Pretty obvious but with a flight time as short as 3 hours (from Sydney) you can hit the snows over a weekend without having to sacrifice leave.||While you could leave for Japan on Friday afternoon, hit the powder on Saturday and Sunday morning at a snow field closer to Tokyo and be back in time to work on Monday it's super tight and not very convenient to do.||New Zealand|
|Average flight price||Flights to Queenstown are generally more expensive than to other cities like Auckland and Christchurch. The average return fare for an adult to visit Queenstown from major cities is:
These averages were provided by Skyscanner.
|Flights can start from $299 return from Cairns if you catch a great break otherwise the average price an Aussie pays to visit Tokyo looks like this from major cities:
These averages were provided by Skyscanner.
|Number of ski resorts||20+||500+||Japan|
|Ski pass prices||For a 1-day adult ski pass, prices range from $114 (Cardrona) to $142 (Treble Cone).||For a 1-day adult ski pass you'll pay between ¥5,000 (Zao Onsen) and ¥7,400 (Niseko). Converted, that's $60–$94.||Japan|
|Hotel prices||Prices for a 3-star hotel during peak season range from $90–$523 per night.
These averages are based on a 3-night stay in Queenstown for 1 August 2019 on Hotel Finder.
|Prices for a 3-star hotel during peak season range from $62–$491 per night.
These averages are based on a 3-night stay in Sapporo for 15 December 2019 on Hotel Finder.
Note, these dates were chosen as dates a year in advance and aren't available to book online. Prices will increase dramatically over Christmas in general.
|Peak season length||4 months (mid-June to mid-October)||4 months (mid-December to mid-April)||Tie|
|Highest resort elevation||Roundhill in Lake Tekapo has the highest elevation at 783 metres. It features 18km of runs and 6 ski lifts.||Japan's Yokoteyama-Shibutoge and Shigakogen Mountain Resort both have an elevation of 2,307 metres. Shigakogen is the more extensive with 83km of runs and 58 ski lifts.||Japan|
|Food prices||According to Numbeo a meal in an inexpensive restaurant averages NZD$18 ($17) while a local beer comes in at NZD$8 ($8).||According to Numbeo a meal in an inexpensive restaurant in Japan averages ¥870 ($11) while a local beer comes in at ¥400 ($5).||Japan|
|Language||New Zealand is an English-speaking country.||English isn't the native language. However, most of the popular resorts are familiar with the language.||New Zealand|
|Currency conversion||The Aussie dollar converts at around 1:1 with the New Zealand dollar making it easier to budget your trip on-ground.||The conversion rate is 1AUD to ¥80 which is a little difficult to calculate off the top of your head.||New Zealand|
Japan might have cheaper on ground costs (such as accomodation, food and ski passes) and has a wider range of fields and higher resort elevations but we think New Zealand ultimately comes out on top. Not only is it quicker and cheaper to get to, with the potential to get there and back in a weekend from Australia's east coast, but there are no major language barriers and with an almost 1:1 conversion rate with the Aussie dollar, calculating your spend is super easy.
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