The number of Australians heading across the Tasman for a New Zealand ski holiday is expected to hit 100,000 this year, with the last minute market a key focus.
The NZ ski season kicks of tomorrow with the opening of Coronet Peak, with Tourism New Zealand general manager Tim Burgess reporting "fantastic snowfall".
"There was a big drop last week so we'll be opening the season with all natural snow," he told Travel Today.
He said competitive rates and increased air capacity to Queenstown will play a major role in achieving the 100,000 figure, which represents an increase on 2012's official figure of 65,000 which did not take into account skiers departing Queenstown, and unoffical figure of 90,000 with those skiers factored in following talks with accommodation suppliers and tour operators. Virgin Australia, Qantas, Air New Zealand and Jetstar have all boosted capacity to the port.
TNZ's latest ski campaign, More Magic in Every Day, which launched in March – building on last year's More in Every Day push – has also received good feedback, according to Burgess. Tour operators, accommodation suppliers and airlines have reported good strong forward bookings, he revealed.
The campaign highlights the alternative activities available to skiers in the resort areas which are set below the ski slopes because they fall in areas of national park.
But efforts to encourage Aussies across the ditch will continue into the ski season.
"We're trying to encourage last minute bookings," Burgess said. "We'll ensure a constant flow of information about snow conditions, deals and how long the resorts will be open for."
In addition, the tourism body is trying to promote spring skiing, highlighting the benefits of a ski trip in September as less crowds and lower prices.
"People tend to stop coming in August – we want to change that," he said. "A lot of people are tied to the school holidays, but those aren't should consider coming in spring."
The Australian trade continues to play a vital role in delivering skiers to the destination, Burgess confirmed, particularly the first time visitors that account for half of the Australian ski market.
The Australian market remains New Zealand's main ski market with Aussie ski visitors to NZ accounting for 16% of all Australian visitation. They spend an average $2643 per person during an average 12.6 night stay.