Saturday, August 19, 2006

It's Snow Fun

Warren here!! This weekend was the first weekend since we moved to New Zealand that I planned to venture onto the slopes for some fun in the snow. My board was treated to a full pamper earlier in the week, everything was set and ready to go.

Or was it?

The weather reports were getting worse as the week went on and now it looked like the resorts would be closed due to a massive Nor'Wester that was due to hit Saturday morning.

Saturday morning came, a quick glance out the window revealed clear blue sky and no wind. I checked the Mt Hutt webpage and it was still reporting the resort closed but said check back at 9am for an update. Tick... Tick... Tick... the page is updated and its good news, the resort is open.

Craig, a fellow Brit, and I load up and head the hour up the road to Mt Hutt. It’s the first time I have been along the access road to the resort but at least we could see the road, normally it’s covered in snow and ice. The Kiwi's are not big on crash barriers even when there is 14Km of road where the edge of the road is a drop 100's of feet. This is not a road for the squeamish.

The good news is that the slope is not packed, looks like the weather reports put many off.

After the short ride of the quad chair its time for the first run of the day, and also my first run in a few years. From the top of the slope you are greeted with a stunning view of the Canterbury planes with sprawling fields all the way to the sea and the Rakaia snaking its way to the coast. I am starting to remember why I love being in the mountains with views like this.

A quick look down the slope shows what looked fluffy from the chairlift is actually more like hard pack ice with a thin layer of sluff on top, bugger.

Time to start the first run... It appears that while your body does remember what it should be doing to snowboard it turns out that initially its more a caricature of what it should be doing... splat, nothing like a face plant on ice to wake you up.

After a few shaky turns and the face plant it is starting to come back to me and I feel more confident letting the board pick up speed. After a few hours the ice is starting to melt a little under the beating sun and the surface starts to soften up. By the end of the day I am back up to speed and even feel confident enough to hit a couple of jumps.

The day flew past and before we know it the sun was no longer on the slopes, the light went flat and another day on the hill is over. It's then just a short trip back to catch up with the girls to see how their day has been.

Meanwhile.. just one hour away, back down on the Canterbury Plains in Waddington...

Kate and I nursed our hangovers from the previous night whilst sat on the deck eating "frish iiggs" collected that day (they had all stayed the night before to ensure the boys got up the mountain early but, despite our best efforts (honest!), the boys didn't hit the sack until 1.30am and Kate and I, well.. err, Kate and I nearly saw 3am!!).

The weather was gorgeous and blooming hot - we grabbed the thermometer and stuck it on the table... 28 DEGREES and it was only 10.30am! And still winter!

Kate had bought the kids swimming cozzies and I dusted off my jandals and we hopped in the car and drove to the Waimakariri Gorge (2 mins down the road) so the girls, and Summer, could cool down in the river. It was at this point the girls found out just how cold the Waimak's water is!

A cold beer later we decided to go for lunch at Jo Seager's new cafe in Oxford - the kids had their own little "lunch plates" which were brilliant and consisted of little rabbit-shaped marmite sarnies, polenta fries, an iced bun, dried fruit, carrot sticks, little cheesey/bacony toasts and chocolate milk - all for $7 !! Iiigs Benedict for the ladies!

The boys returned home buzzing at 4.30pm and we sat down to lasagne and a pav! What a great day. And tomorrow is to be the Sheffield Mud Plug and Wendy, Dazza and Luke are coming over in their suped up Pajero (complete with new winch and snorkel - wahey!!).

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