Mt HuttRemarkablesski NZWinnies

NZ – LOVE FROM AFAR. LOVE FROM THE BAR

Ski instructor extraordinaire

In her natural habitat

Tennille might have spent her childhood on Queensland’s sunny beaches but she’s no stranger to the world of skiing. Finding the addiction to skiing at an early age, she spent every possible moment down at the NSW ski fields as well as living and working in Canadian resorts in her teens and twenties. She worked her way up (and down), earning herself a prestigious level 3 instructors certification, akin to the black belt in Karate. She was quickly snapped up by Utah’s Deer Valley resort where she worked and lived the seasons until her equally talented husband and herself blew the whistle and called a time out to have kids and put up the ubiquitous white picket fence back in Oz. Now they spend their time (and more importantly their money) cruising the white world, ever looking for the faster, higher, longer, as all us ‘White nomads’ do. So, when Tennille and Darren took a side trip to ski NZ, naturally I had the pen at the ready to pick their brain on the ins and outs of skiing NZ 2011:

Snow guns trying trying trying

  

TRY AGAIN NEXT YEAR

 Four weeks into the winter season, early July the snow conditions at the Remarkables were were not great. Back home in Australia they had 90cm, while in NZ the Australian school kids who had flown over especially to see snow were still waiting, like bridegrooms left at the alter. The snow makers were pumping their little hearts out, although even conditions for this activity were too warm.


REMARKABLES. SLIGHTLY ‘UN’ THIS SEASON

 We visited Coronet Peak and The Remarkables just outside of Queenstown then we drove to Methven just outside of Christchurch and went to Mt Hutt. Not so great this year, so we didn’t get the skis out of the bags.

The Remarkables is the closest resort to drive from Queenstown, with Cardona a little further along. The road up to the Remarkables is a 40 minute long awful winding, steep, narrow, unprotected drive. When another vehicle approached on the opposite side of the road it is scary, especially when it’s an all-terrain bus that does this trip frequently and it’s on a narrow section.
MOUNT HUTT
The biggest ski resort closest to Christchurch, Mount Hutt is well worth the drive. Scenery along the way is beautiful, through the Pinot Noir producing region of Otago and onto Mackenzie County, you drive past New Zealand’s highest mountain Mt Cook then meander down to the Canterbury Plains to Methven, where the real drive to Mt Hutt begins. It is a steep, narrow drive that picks up wind the higher one ascends. Chains on vehicles were mandatory for all two- wheel drive, and chains are old and leave a lot to be desired in both condition and application. Ski patrol announcements at the chain stop declaring the icy conditions and number of accidents were not reassuring. First timers may be tempted to try an alternative sport, like ballet in a nice climate-controlled studio. Snow conditions from the car park at the base looked good, we were bummed we had left our skis behind, assuming poor conditions like the Queenstown resorts. The mountain wasn’t open everywhere but what was open looked good. Mulled wine to settle raw nerves were needed for the drive down. 




IF YOU COULD SKI, WHAT’S YOUR PICK OF NZ?
From a skiers point of view on a map Coronet Peak  or Wanaka appear the winner, edging in due to the longest runs and black diamond sections.  With any resorts maps don’t really relate to terrain, it depends on how much snow the mountain has.


 FOR BEGINNERS?  
There were lots of first timers there, but it’s a bit risky (conditions and the drive up the mountains to get to the resorts). My vote for beginners from Australia is to ski Australia first or save up and go to USA or Canada for a first time ski experience.


FOR FAMILY SKIING?

They  look like friendly resorts on paper .but you’d have to survive the drive up. I’d possibly take my kids when they are older but the drive up the hill everyday would scare me, or 40 minutes of whinging would scare me, either way, I’d hesitate to bring them along. 


GREAT BAR WEATHER

If you can’t ski, bottoms up. Luckily, New Zealand’s food is incredible, albeit quite expensive in resort towns. The best bar was Winnies. Every 15 minutes the roof opens to let in fresh, bracing air. Great fun after a couple of drinks. Great music too.



NO SNOW?
Being an activities region we found alternative things to do besides ski, the wine tour to the Otago region is highly recommended, fantastic wines, great views. The dirt bike tour is great fun and done on a farm near the wineries. Dirt bike guides were good and terrain was excellent and catered for beginner to advanced. All gear was provided. Activities such as AJ Hackett bungy jumping nearby looked really fun. Boutique shopping is good in Queenstown although expensive even allowing for the NZ dollar. Max Shop is a NZ chain store, which has some good stuff and is reasonably priced. We’d done water activities such as the Shotover Jet on a previous trip so didn’t do it again, but people in Queenstown were raving about it. So many alternative activities to choose from. 


FOOD
Favourite restaurant was Prime Waterfront Restaurant and Grill in Queenstown. Best fast food was NZ’s Fergburger. Best restaurant on our wine tour was Amisfield for it’s great views.


NZ IS BEST FOR?
Road tripping with a big group of really experienced skiers for an awesome heli skiing vacation, especially paying in NZ dollars. My pick would be Lake Tekapo, as helicopters  go into the highest mountains in the region and hopefully and possibly the steepest mountains. It’s definitely great to stay in Queenstown, it’s a party and activity town. And it’s easily accessible to fly into from Sydney.

ACCOMMODATION?
Excellent standards in Queenstown. The Crown Plaza is highly recommended because it has a great view of the beautiful lake and is an easy walk to the town centre. Queenstown has a great range of accommodation and if I went back I’d definitely stay close to the town centre as accommodation stretches along the lake and towards the airport. 

The beauty of Queenstown


 

Mt Hutt. Looks good

Nice one, maybe next year…….




    

About Author

Emma

It was a ski brochure on the Dolomites (Italy) that first stirred Emma's interest in all things ski-related. That endless white moonscape, skiable as far as the eye can see... those geological wonderments. All those hot gluhwein drinks! Promptly quitting her Japanese language teaching job Emma hot-footed it to Austria to become a a ski-instructor, got engaged and did a season alternating between consuming chicken schnitzels and demonstrating the 'alpine position' to English ski students. Whist still not fulfilling her Dolomite ski fantasy, Emma happily lives and breathes her passion, albeit through writing and finds North America and Japan great snow resorts to share with her young family. Particularly the buffalo wings and the okonomiyaki.

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