Board Test: Top 25

Southern Hemi Hot Spots For all you jonesin’ jet-setters looking for the endless winter,here’s the lowdown of where to go south of the equator. Airfare prices came from our friendly AmericanExpress travel agent, who warns: “These fares are not final!” Remember to allow at least a 21-day advanceand include a Saturday-night stay-over for the best rate. If you’re looking for more info, check out the resortsection on our Web site:


Argentina Season: June to September Travel: Buenos Aires or Santiago Cost: out of L.A. $1,300 out of N.Y. $1,200 Tourism office: (212) 603-0443 Las Leñas: Considered the epicenter of snowboarding in Argentina. From the Buenos Aires airport, grab a taxi (agarre un taxi) to the bus station in the city’s center. An overnight (about twenty hours) bus ride to the resort will cost you 50 bucks or so, and includes a movie and a meal. Stock up on snacks and supplies before arriving in Las Leñas, it’ll save you a pretty peso over resort prices. If you’re traveling on someone else’s tab, fly straight to Mendoza, Argentina, from either Buenos Aires or Santiago (think of the movie Alive). From there, it’s a shorter, six-hour bus trip. Renting a car is tempting, but save your money and waste it later at the resort casino. Whatever you do, don’t gamble on the streets in Mendoza. It’s all rigged. It’s best to have some accommodations lined up before you arrive. Lodging options exist, but are limited. If you’re on the roots program, there’re dorm-style rooms with about twenty bunks per and mayhem all night long. If you’re in the position to pay a little more, try one of the hotels. Las Leñas is typically open from mid-June through early October. Lift tickets are 41 dollars during what’s called the middle season and can be higher or lower depending when you go (the low season starts August 28). Events to check out: the Ballentine’s Argentine Open in late August or the South American Extreme Snowboarding Championships during the second week of September. Be prepared for big terrain, and plenty of girls-Argentina is also known for them. Other resorts to check out: Antillanca, Gran Catedral, Chapelco, and Los Penitentes. -K.H.

Australia Season: June to October Travel: Flights into Sydney or Melbourne Cost: Sydneyout of L.A. $1,100 out of N.Y. $1,500 Melbourneout of L.A. $1,100 out of N.Y. $1,500 Tourism office: (805) 775-2000 Perisher Blue: Located in Kosciusko National Park on Mt. Kosciusko, the highest point in Australia, Perisher Blue is a combination of four resorts (Perisher Valley, Smiggins Hole, Blue Cow, and Guthega), making it the largest in New South Wales. Snowboarders are warmly welcomed to the 50 lifts and over 3,700 acres of terrain. A fun park, board riders’ school, women’s snowboard program, and snowboard guide add to the appeal. Adult tickets cost approximately 42 dollars. On-mountain lodging at the Perisher Valley Hotel will set you back close to 114 dollars during the off-season, and approximately 165 dollars during peak season, for a shared room. Less expensive lodging is available just outside the resort. There are no hostels for tightwad travelers, but if you ask nicely, maybe a local will let you sleep on their floor. If you like to party, you’ll fit right in here. Bus, train, or even air travel is available from both Sydney or Melbourne. For more info check: Mt. Buller: The closest resort to Melbourne. Expect crowds on weekends and holidays. Lift tickets at Mt. Buller are priced on a sliding scale, depending on the number of lifts operating that day. Full-price adult lift passes cost approximately 39 dollars but discounts are available to Buller club members. Buller also offers the most on-mountain lodging in Victoria. The partying is inevitable and goes all night at the largest number of on-resort restaurants and night spots in the state. Keep in mmind, staying on the resort can take a toll on your budget, so visit a supermarket to save a little cash. For more info check: www.skibuller.comas Other resorts to check out: Charlotte Pass, Mount Selwyn, and Thredbo Alpine Village in New South Wales; Falls Creek, Mount Baw Baw, Mount Buffalo’s, and Mount Hotham in Victoria; and Ben Lomond in Tasmania. All major resorts have snowmaking and are within a few hours of Sydney or Melbourne. -R.H.

Chile Season: June to October Travel: Santiago Cost: out of L.A. $1,300 out of N.Y. $1,200 Tourism office: (202) 785-1746 Valle Nevado: Only an hour’s drive from Santiago is one of South America’s most popular resorts. Although a short distance, the trip can be treacherous, with narrow switchbacks tunneling through the resort’s namesake snow (Valle Nevado means snowy valley in Spanish). Chains are often mandatory and not cheap to rent. Best to take a shuttle for approximately 40 dollars from one of the taxi services at the Santiago airport. On the drive, be sure to scope for Chilean Condors overhead and watch for huasos-Chilean gauchos-ambling down the road on horseback. The resort is pretty exclusive and void of any real bro-type deals. But the service, untouched powder, and especially the food, are worth throwing down the pesos. The terrain at Valle Nevado is mellow but fun. More adventurous riders should roam the adjacent resorts of El Colorado and La Parva, or check out the potential road runs, the one reason to have a rental car (something we shouldn’t really be telling). A lift ticket this season will set you back 34 bucks on weekends and 27 mid week. The low season (and lower prices) begins on September 3 and runs through closing. For central reservations call (562) 206-0027, and try Turavion at (562) 330-0860 for shuttle service. Other resorts to check out: El Colorado, Farellones, La Parva, Portillo, Pucon, and Termas de Chillan. -K.H. New Zealand Season: June to October Travel: North Island Auckland or Wellington Airports out of L.A. $1,000 out of N.Y. $1,400 South Island Christchurch out of L.A. $1,250 out of N.Y. $1,500 South Island Queenstown out of L.A. $2,100 out of N.Y. $3,000 Tourism office: 1-800-388-5494 Mt. Hutt: Typically the first resort in the country to receive snow, Mt. Hutt’s open from the end of May through October. Terrain includes an abundance of natural hits as well as a halfpipe, and the 400 acres of riding are accessed by 26 lifts. Passes cost approximately 30 dollars. Travel into Christchurch International Airport, which is a mere 90 minutes from Mt. Hutt. Car rental is convenient, but travel by bus or train are both just as easy and could save you some cash. There are many good travel packages available to help you maximize your time in New Zealand, so shop around. There is on-mountain lodging and some low-budget accommodations in Methven, a mere 30 minutes from the resort. For a small town, it has several places to grab a bite or check out the local scene. Other resorts or “club fields” to check out: Amuri, Broken River, Cardrona, Coronet Peak, Craigeburn, Fox Peak, Mt. Cheesman, Mt. Dobson, Mt. Lyford, Mt. Olympus, Mt. Robert, Ohau, Porters Heights, Temple Basin, The Remarkables, and Treble Cone on South Island; Manganui, Tukino, Turoa, and Whakapapa on North Island. Club fields are usually cheaper than resorts and offer less amenities, but feature the same pristine snow and terrain. -R.H.