Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ski Goddess returns to New Zealand

Gosh what fun it is telling people I'm retired when they ask me what I do. Seriously, it is the most awesome word, and my most favourite occupation. Yes I wrote it on the immigration cards as well.

I arrived in Christchurch Wednesday afternoon after the usual red eye Perth to Sydney. This time, however, I'm a Qantas Club member which means access to a nice hot shower and yummy hot breakfast before taking the next leg to NZ. And who should I meet in the Qantas Lounge but an old uni friend. Great to catch up over a green juice!

In cold overcast NZ I picked up my chariot for the duration of my trip. It's a Nissan Tiida, is automatic and looks a lot more flash than I was expecting for the bargain basement price of $13.50 NZD per day. That's with standard insurance, my travel insurance covers the collision waver insurance, thus saving me heaps.

I'm staying out at Sumner, on top of a hill at Taylors Mistake, looking out over the Southern Ocean and getting to watch the full moon rise. It's a spectacular location, home to my Japanese friend Yuri, and her boyfriend Ollie. We went for a great walk along the cliffs, admiring the views and the spectacular cliffside homes and mansions. Some cute tiny houses as well as some enormous ones.

I've also been shopping. Stocking up on food supplies before the trip south where food prices skyrocket exponentially. The Asian supermarket, with it's bulk dry goods supplies, got a big chunk of business from me, and I'm now fully stocked with a good few months' supply of noodles, rice, condiments and breakfast supplies. Plus dates. A winter in Wanaka is not complete without Sticky Date Pudding!

Saturday I went to Porters. My friend Sonja and I headed up for the day, and Ollie and Yuri joined us, along with Ollie's kids. Then Sunday I headed south to Tekapo, for 3 nights.


Monday I went to Mt Dobson. It was freezing cold, colder than I've ever felt on a ski field in New Zealand. Unfortunately the snow cover is still a bit patchy, though it's good quality dry snow due to the cold conditions. With a wicked wind and the temperatures staying below zero all day, I skied until my feet and hands had no feeling, warmed up in the canteen, then did three more runs before calling it a day. Most of my favourite terrain at Dobson was unskiable due to lack of snow up top, so I was getting bored anyway. Back to Tekapo and a warm fire and hot water bottle in my bed.

Tuesday it was Round Hill. Last time I'd been there I had been less than impressed by the terrain, but I hadn't ventured up the rope tow as I was still new to nutcrackers. After Mt Olympus, all my fear has gone, so I coughed up the $10 for a nutcracker harness and ventured up the 1.4km rope tow to the top of the mountain.

Round Hill is amazing. It has this gentle, upside down bowl shaped hill which constitutes the main resort. It is gentle terrain, very family friendly, with some pleasant off piste skiing between the groomed trails. Then in 2010 they built this mammoth 1.5km long rope tow which goes straight up this mother of a mountain, maybe 4 times the height of the round little hill that makes up the main resort. Needless to say, this mountain is only for experienced skiers, there are no groomed trails, and no crowds either.

The ride up is gruelling. I don't enjoy T-bars or rope tows as your legs get no rest, so at the top I sat down for a breather and took a few photos. You can see the main resort in the middle right, a good 700m below!!

Then ski down I went. I did this 3 times, twice before lunch and once more after lunch. By then my legs were jelly, so I just did a few more off piste runs off the self loading T-bar up the top of the mountain before calling it a day around 2:15pm.

Today I'm having a rest day. The legs are toast! I'll have a little more of a wander around Tekapo, and then head south to Omarama for a couple of nights. I'm planning to ski Ohau, before heading on to Wanaka on Friday. Apparently I'm back to wwoofing for free, as they are going to get me doing some gardening. One of my favourite activities!

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