As Australians touch down in Queenstown, locals predict it could be best winter yet

Brace yourself Queenstown, the Aussies have landed.

The resort town is experiencing its first post-pandemic party with the number of Australians coming in at record highs at the start of their school holidays.

Newshub had to push past a huge number of Aussies to get to Coronet Peak skifield with many in Queenstown predicting this could be one of their best winters ever.

Flying into the snowy alps, direct from Melbourne, not an empty seat.

The flight in from Melbourne is one of six direct flights across the Tasman on Friday, with 185 Aussies on board.

"Nice to be back in Godzone, it's been three years," one visitor said. 

"It's been a while, happy to be back," another told Newshub. 

"We're just here for a holiday because we can't afford to go to Europe," said another. 

And Queenstown Mayor Jim Bolt had a smile he couldn't hide. 

"Lots and lots of them around, lots of Aussie accents, the planes are full and we are smiling."

The borders have been open to Australian tourists since April, but the start of the ski season combined with the school holidays means this is the first time Queenstown has seen a solid and sustained influx. 

"We've got Qantas, Jetstar and Air New Zealand all back on the trans-Tasman route and they're definitely noticing big demand from Australians to come here," said Queenstown Airport's Sara Irvine. 

And of course, the main reason they come to Queenstown? "Here for the snow!"

"I'm rapt, and I'm also a little bit relieved," said Coronet Peak's Nigel Kerr.

Australians have always been a vital market for Queenstown tourism operators, so closed borders hit them hard.

"We've seen our penetration of Australians grow above 30 percent pretty much in a couple of days, every person you ride on the chair with is from Australia," said Kerr. 

Yes, a third of the people skiing at Coronet at the moment are from Australia, and what's better, the Aussies love to splash their cash while here.

"The first thing we notice is the spend, they love to spend and the spend doesn't just affect us, it affects all of [the] town below us," Kerr said. 

It's been an uphill battle for many in Queenstown as businesses in the region limped their way through lockdowns and border closures.

"After two-and-a-half years this is just the elixir we need to light the town up again, to get businesses going, to get the confidence up again going forward," Boult said.

Hotels are full, restaurants are pumping and people are jumping for joy. 

"Odds are on to have the best ski season we've ever had," the mayor added. 

The dawn of a new era for the country's adventure capital.