Going to the mountains to take part in snow sports was never something that I got to take part in back in the UK but to be fair, neither did many other people. Although we have a big population there just isnt that many places that have big enough mountains to get snow and have a ski resort. The best we can do from the UK is head up to Scotland or over to France for a winter holiday but these were never really an option for me and this all slipped on by. For my first couple of years in NZ it still managed to evade me due to a financial crisis my first year (20+ flights are expensive) and then just not even thinking about it much the second year. Year 3 though is where it all started to change and I got my first taste of the NZ snow sports scene and suddenly realised why so many people come over to Central Otago to live and work in Wanaka and Queenstown so that they can spend every free moment up the mountain.
Last year I was a complete novice. I fell on my bum plenty but had some great instructors that showed me what to do and got me heading down some of the runs. I was lucky enough to also have some friends who lent me some of the clothing which also cut down on how much everything cost, making every trip a little cheaper. I was so happy with myself that I managed to get a whole 4 days of snowboarding in for the 2017 season and even managed to drag Troy along with me and get to board with Hannah when she finally got to NZ.
This year the true love of the sport really took hold and I tried to get as much boarding in as possible, managing 10 days in total for the season. Now that doesnt sound like much, but since I live 3.5hrs drive away from the mountains and had to nip there on a weekend and get back in time for work on Monday it was a pretty epic few trips sometimes with Jacqui as a couples trip other times with the guys from work as a lads bonding day and even one weekend purely by myself just to try and work on my technique and figure out what the hell I am doing!
Eventually this has all started to pay off and I can see now how much better I am (still poor by local standards) and how much I love to get out there on the and fly down the mountains.
For anyone who has never tried it it can be hard to explain. Realistically you are out on a mountain, standing in snow, exposed to the elements and flying down a slope at high speed with a chance of falling over at any moment. On bad weather days the visibility can be only a few meters in front of you with potential drops all around and the snow could be frozen into a solid ice sheet as hard as a rock, just waiting for you to fall and bruise your bum. That being said, even those days are pretty amazing. On the good days though everything is different, very different.
On a good day, the weather is clear, there is not a single cloud in the sky and the sun is blazing down. You might be stood on the snow but that doesn’t mean you’re cold in the slightest. The combination of a warm jacket, thermals and plenty of activity means that things soon heat up and often need you to open up your jacket and open air vents just to stay cool. The snow is soft and falling over becomes nothing to fear and just funny more than anything else. These days are perfect. You can hobble away with crippled feet, feeling exhausted and yet you somehow
Towards the end of the season, I eventually took the plunge and bought myself some of my own boots. They weren’t cheap but I did get them in the sale which always helps. Everywhere I have read and everyone I’ve talked to always recommended to get your own boots as they can then mold to your feet and you can get experience with the same equipment over and over again. To complete the package I also managed to pick up a bargain snowboard for $60 second-hand! It might not be the best one around but considering I usually pay $50 each time I go up the mountain to rent a board and boots I
The only massive issues that I have now is that its spring (Southern Hemisphere Life) which means I need to wait about 8 months before snowboarding season starts again! I am sure Jacqui is probably going to see in the lounge at some point with my boots on and board strapped to my feet practicing moves. Hopefully I wont get in too much trouble!
Bring on the snow! (After a decent summer of course)