Winter season looks promising for Australian and NZ ski resorts according to Google data | WE ARE SNO

Winter season is looking promising for Australian and New Zealand ski resorts according to Google data

Ahead of the Southern Hemisphere ski resorts opening in two weeks time, we decided to investigate what the season may look like in terms of visitation, and which ski resorts Australians and New Zealanders are searching for the most.

Travel took a huge hit in 2020, but that only means we expect to see the release of a lot of pent-up wanderlust, as skiers look to get back on the slopes and more people give snowsports a try. 

Using Google’s Keyword Planner and the Google Ads platform, we analysed lists of search terms that are commonly used when people are looking to book ski trips in the Southern Hemisphere. We gathered the monthly average search volume for April 2021 and then compared this data with similar numbers from 2 previous periods:

  1. April 2020, when COVID-19 was having a significant impact on snowsports
  2. April 2019, before COVID-19 was recorded and it was business as normal for all resorts

The findings allowed us to get a gauge on how many people are looking to go skiing this year, and how it compares to previous years.


The most searched for ski resorts in Australia

With 117,530 total monthly searches, Thredbo (NSW) is the most searched for Australian ski resort. This is followed by Mt Hotham (VIC) in second place and Mt Buller (VIC) in third with 61,100 and 42,050 monthly searches respectively.

For New South Wales resorts, Thredbo has also seen the greatest increase in search interest (up by 172%) when compared to the same period pre-COVID. Similarly, Perisher has seen a positive increase of 130%. 

Victorian resorts are also seeing significant increase in search demand, with searches for Falls Creek up by 128% in April 2021 compared to April 2019 (pre-COVID), followed by Mt Buller which is up by 116% over the same period. 

Hotham has still seen a 97% increase compared to the same period in 2019, but is the only resort not to see interest reach more than double.

The most searched for ski resorts in New Zealand

Queenstown (with surrounding resorts of Coronet Peak and The Remarkables) continues to be the most popular destination for ski trips, with 27,330 searches conducted in April this year. This is up 87% compared to April 2019, a massive increase of 12,720 searches.

Wanaka, home to Cardrona and Treble Cone resorts, has seen the greatest growth of searches, up 102% compared to April 2019 and up 376% compared to last year. However, even with this surge in new searches, is less than 50% of the total interest in Queenstown ski holidays. 

Ski holidays to Methven (Mt Hutt resort) and Mt Ruapehu have also recorded notable search growth, but not nearly on the scale as Queenstown or Wanaka. Perhaps indicating ski areas which will not be as crowded when it comes to the peak weeks.

We also looked at this data including New Zealand searchers too, when doing this we see searches for Mt Ruapehu grow considerably, up by over 32,000 searches. This is presumably due to its location in relation to NZ’s most populated city, Auckland. Where many skiers will choose to drive to rather than fly south to Queenstown, Wanaka or other resort areas. 

How ski and snowboard instructors could benefit

While the international borders remain closed, it gives Australians more of a reason to venture in their own backyard and the search data suggests many are planning to give snowsports a go this winter. 

Searches for ‘learn to ski’ had 6,920 total monthly searches in April 2021 which is up by 79% when compared to the same period pre-COVID. It seems Australians also want to give snowboarding a go this year, with ‘learn to snowboard’ searches hitting a record 1,420 total monthly searches in April 2021 which is 92% up compared to the same period pre-COVID.

This news is very much welcomed, as we know from speaking with our resort partners that 2020 was a tough year for instructors, like many in the snowsports community. So we hope it will be a good season for all Aussie and Kiwi instructors!

Other findings and trends

Unsurprisingly, search interest in European holidays remains below normal levels, with a 35% decline on April 2019. We’ll continue to track these trends over coming months in the hope that we see a similar rebound in search popularity for Northern Hemisphere ski resorts in advance of the season beginning. 

Global search interest for the majority of international ski destinations remains subdued, largely driven by the on-going impacts of COVID-19, border restrictions and local lockdowns. 

  • Whistler, Canada’s largest ski resort’s search interest remains 22% down on pre-COVID levels, but has recovered 58% year on year. 
  • Zermatt, one of Switzerland’s most famous resorts, has seen a 9% increase on pre-COVID levels, possibly due to the government’s decision to keep ski resorts operating this year while most resorts in Europe were forced to shut.
  • Tignes, a French resort which was forced to close has seen search popularity fall by 58% for the same period.