Perisher NSW is a leading Australian ski resort with plenty of bells and whistles. By Australian standards, Perisher Ski Resort is mega, with the largest skiable terrain and the greatest numbers of lifts in Australia as well as the Southern hemisphere. Perisher (known as Perisher Blue prior to 2009) became so big through the amalgamation of the inter-connected ski areas and villages of Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Blue Cow and Guthega.
Now owned by Vail Resorts, Perisher Ski Resort is highly likely to see some major development to Vail-ize the infrastructure and services. Perisher is now on the Vail Resorts Epic Pass lift ticket system, which provides huge benefits to season pass holders who will now be able to access a raft of Vail Resorts in the U.S. such as Park City
, Canyons Resort
…. the list goes on and on.
Snowboard and Ski Perisher - Terrain
Perisher Ski Resort spans seven peaks, providing 1,245 skiable hectares, which to put it in perspective is about 4 times the size of Mt Buller and Mt Hotham
, and 25 times bigger than Charlotte Pass and Selwyn. Much of the Perisher skiing is spread out horizontally, and like most other Australian ski hills, the continuous vertical drop is small at only 355 metres.
Perisher has 47 lifts, which include a mega 8-pack express chair lift and 3 fabulous high speed quad chairs. However in total there are only 14 chair lifts, and there are a plethora of T-bars and other surface lifts that are a bit of a drag, particularly for snowboarders.
The terrain stats are pretty indicative of the resort’s offerings with 16% beginner, 67% intermediate and 17% advanced trails. Perisher has lots of groomed runs with an emphasis on blue cruisers, and some of the black runs are also groomed and suitable for strong intermediate riders. Overall it’s a pretty gentle mountain with Smiggins in particular being rather mellow.
So you won’t find much in the way of steep (or deep) at Perisher Resort. Most black runs are over in the blink of an eye, and the ratings of the few double black runs are designed to boost your self esteem, unless of course the moguls are shoulder high! For advanced and expert skiers and snowboarders, there is a little bit of tree skiing, and also access to some backcountry.
Perisher claims to have the most reliable snow of the Australian ski resorts
(which isn’t saying much!). The snow is reasonably well retained because many of the slopes are southeast facing and the base elevation is relatively high. Perisher also claims to have the highest chair lift in Australia at an elevation of 2,034 metres, with “chair” being the operative word because Thredbo
has a surface lift up to 2,037 metres!
Like other Aussie ski resorts, Perisher doesn’t get huge quantities of snowfall. They don’t advertise the average snowfall statistic, but it’s thought to be about 2.5 metres per season (about one seventh of the snowfall at the famed Niseko Japan
). Snowmaking covers just over 4% of the terrain to top up Mother Nature’s goodness.
The area has some real “perishers” of storms which can close many of the lifts, and thankfully there is a little bit of sheltered terrain to provide some visibility during inclement weather.
Where is Perisher Ski Resort?
Perisher is located in SE New South Wales in the Kosciuszko National Park of the Snowy Mountains. Perisher Resort is 489km southwest of Sydney (a drive that takes about 5.5-6 hours depending on how horrendous the weekend traffic is), 607km northeast of Melbourne (6-7 hours), 210km SW of Canberra, and 78km from the Cooma Airport (Snowy Mountains Airport). The cute little town of Jindabyne is 31km to the east of Perisher, a drive that takes about 30 minutes.
Bus transport is available from Sydney and Canberra (airport and city), but most people drive there (chains need to be carried and fitted as directed). As there is negligible overnight parking at Perisher (except further down the hill), many people park (for free) at Bullocks Flat and then catch the Skitube train to Perisher Valley or Blue Cow (free with a valid lift ticket). Oversnow transport is required to access most of the on-mountain lodging.
Accommodation Perisher – On-Mountain
There isn’t that much ski-in ski-out accommodation at Perisher, and many lodgings require a short walk to get to the lifts. There are various Perisher hotels and other accommodation types include commercial lodges (some with meal packages and others are self-catering), club lodges, and self-contained apartments.
The Perisher accommodation is spread out across the villages. Perisher Valley is the largest village and has the most restaurant and nightlife options and is the best if you have little kids (child care and littlies ski school is situated here). Smiggin Holes and Guthega are rather small, and up the upside is that it tends to be easier to get between the lodges and to the lifts compared to Perisher Valley.
Perisher Manor Hotel
is located ski-in ski-out at Perisher Valley. Rooms range from simple doubles and twins to deluxe rooms that sleep up to 6 people.
Perisher Valley Hotel
is located ski-in ski-out in the heart of Perisher. It has hotel rooms, family rooms (sleeping up to 4) and suites (sleeping up to 5). Packages come with half board.
The Guthega Inn
is located only 80 metres from the nearest lift at the Guthega Village. This hotel has king rooms and quad rooms.
Perisher Accommodation Listings
Jindabyne Accommodation - Off-Mountain
Another option is to stay in the cute picturesque town of Jindabyne situated on Lake Jindabyne, about a 30 minute drive away from Perisher (or you can take the Skitube from Bullocks Flat).
Jindabyne is not as pricy as Perisher accommodation, and there are options to cater for a large range of budgets. Accommodation types include hotels, motels, cottages and apartments.
The Alpine Resort Motel
offers a range of rooms, studios for up to 5 adults, and 2 bedroom apartments.
Jindabyne Accommodation Listings
Perisher has well developed facilities and services for skiers and snowboarders, which are spread across the four villages and the Bullocks Flat Skitube terminal. Perisher Valley has the most amenities, restaurants and shops, and is where the child care facility (for 6-24 month year olds) is located.
The Perisher ski school has three bases: Front Valley at Perisher, Smiggin, and Blue Cow, and the offerings are not the same at each. For kids, an all day ski or snowboard school program is available at Perisher and Smiggins, whilst 3 hour lessons are on offer at Blue Cow and Smiggins (6-14 year olds). For adults, standard 2 hour group lessons are only available at Blue Cow and Smiggin Holes all season, whilst Perisher Valley offers a max 6 group lesson which is more expensive.
Perisher has extensive cross country skiing with over 100km of trails for differing ability levels, and it’s possible to ski to Charlotte Pass. Other activities include tubing and groomer tours.
Many lodgings have meal packages, but some folks venture out for dinner in the evenings to the many restaurants around Perisher. There are also plenty of bars, although the nightlife isn’t quite as happening as at Thredbo.
Summary of Pros and Cons of Perisher NSW
- Perisher is a large resort so you won’t get déjà vu doing the same run repetitively.
- The terrain is incredibly well suited to intermediate riders.
- Whilst Australia isn’t known for its powder, Perisher snow quality fares better than other Aussie ski resorts thanks to aspect and altitude.
- It is a very family friendly resort.
- One of the strengths is the terrain parks, with multiple parks for differing abilities as well as a superpipe.
- Not steep, deep or cheap. Skiing in Australia is typically expensive by the time you add in chains, park entry fees, accommodation, and meals charged at a snow currency, but Perisher seems to be particularly costly. The Epic lift pass provides reasonable value for money if you use it a lot, but if you plan to just visit for a few days it will hit the hip pocket.
- The abundance of surface lifts is handy for windy days, but the rest of the time the T-bars are just plain annoying.
- This is a tame mountain with little on offer for upper advanced and expert riders.
- The resort can get crazy busy, particularly on weekends and school holidays.