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New Zealand Travel Tips & Questions

What is it like to work on a ski-field in NZ?

While working on a New Zealand ski-field is something of an obvious choice for the ski-passionate there are also plenty of workers every year who are completely new to the scene. The ski season is relatively short – around 4 months – which makes it a popular choice with those on working holidays who want a temporary post. But it is also popular because it typically comes with a bunch of benefits and the jobs have a reputation for being fun.

Ski-field roles are incredibly varied and  include those of car park attendant, lift operator, ticket and lift pass personnel, bar or cafe staff, ski instructor, ski-hire staff, snow groomers and managerial roles.

There are more than 20 ski areas in the country which are made up of commercial ski-fields and the smaller member-run club fields which might be just one small peak. Working experiences can differ considerably between somewhere which employs just a handful of staff to those which are huge communities of workers. Additionally, the larger commercial ski-fields tend to have more touristy surrounds and locations which are both places to live and socialise for ski-field workers. Queenstown (close to the Remarkables and Coronet peak) and Wanaka (close to Treble Cone and Cardrona) are the most vibrant town centres. Club fields on the other hand can be quite isolated but the advantage is the workers in such places tend to be close-knit groups. .

The total number of hours you will work per week and the times of shifts vary. Those dealing directly with the public such as lift operators and cafe staff, for example, run more or less along with the field's opening hours while roles such as groomers may involve night shifts. In all cases a working day would typically range from 8 to 11 hours. With the exception of skilled positions such as ski instructor and managerial roles the majority of ski-field workers will earn minimum wage. For most people who choose these jobs however the importance of working in a fun role coupled with the cheap or free skiing benefits outweighs that of amassing money.

And what are the benefits? In most cases at least the following will be free or with huge discounts applied:

  • a lift pass
  • ski gear hire
  • lessons (ski or snowboard)
  • transport to work
  • privileged rates with local businesses – retailers, restaurants, bars etc
  • meals during working hours