The primary purpose of my Queenstown holiday was to go snowboarding, so I think it’s only fitting that my first post about the holiday is about snowboarding. Here we go!
We flew in to Auckland on the evening of August 8 (Friday), and took the first flight to Queenstown the next morning. We knew we weren’t going to get to the slopes that day, but that was alright because we needed to check-in and collect lift passes and snowboards.
Our first day snowboarding was Sunday (Aug 10 – almost two weeks ago! Seems like just yesterday…) which we spent at Coronet Peak. I have to stop here and say that this was actually my first time snowboarding. In fact, it was my first time seeing snow at all. I still remember that car ride up the mountain: amazing views of the town and surrounding landscape, but I was busy looking out the windows on the other side at all the snow on the side of the road.
So the first morning, we got there pretty early because we were all fresh and full of energy. The two friends I was travelling with had been snowboarding a few times before, so they generously spent the morning teaching me the basics of snowboarding: how to get moving, how to stop, “falling leaf”, J-turns, S-turns, heel-side, toe-side, and, most importantly, how to fall without injuring yourself. And, wow, I could not believe how much my legs were aching already!
After lunch, they graduated me onto the chairlift, which I was pretty stoked about. It was only the Meadows chairlift (which I’d later realise is quite short compared to other chairlifts) and I was still on a beginners’ slope (“Big Easy”) but it was exciting all the same. I spent a lot of time falling down (safely, might I add!) and getting back up again. Apparently it’s the getting back up part that really makes the muscles ache the next day. Well, that and braking.
And, yes, I was sore the next morning; every muscle ached, but nothing could kill my enthusiasm! For Day 2 on the slopes, we headed to The Remarkables. This was potentially my most favourite day on the slopes – either this or Day 3, which was also at The Remarkables. The snow was amazingly powdery and soft, and the beginner slopes (“Curvey Basin” and “Alta”) were long and wide. The only potential problem was that it was snowing almost the entire time we were there – I’m hesitant to say that it was a problem at all because I was just excited to experience snowfall for the first time, but the main issue was that the constant snow plus wind made visibility pretty poor.
Our first run on Tuesday morning (“Curvey Basin”) was perfect, though – all the powdery snow on the ground and good visibility. At one stage, I stopped at the side of the run, about halfway down, to take a break; I must’ve sank almost half a metre into the snow (may or may not be an exaggeration) and practically had to dig myself out again because it was not actually possible to push myself up from the ground. There was a bit of mucking around in the car park afterwards on these two days at The Remarkables, too; couldn’t help ourselves – the snow was so amazingly soft!
We’d originally planned on having six days on the mountains, but on what would have been our fourth day, it was really windy, so The Remarkables was closed, and only one lift was kind of operational at Coronet, so we gave it a miss. Bit of a shame, but it happens…
Our penultimate snowboarding day was spent out at Treble Cone. It was a really clear day with good visibility, but the lifts were only running on and off for some reason (can’t remember why). After a bit of a wait, we finally got on the “Volkswagen Express” chairlift. I think the views coming down that mountain were more memorable than the actual run down the mountain. I don’t know how many times I can acceptably use the word “amazing” in one post, but it was seriously amazing.
We went back to Coronet for our final snowboarding day (Saturday 16 Aug – just last week! Fancy that!) mostly because it’s closest and easiest to get to from our lodge. It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies. At one point during the day, I started to feel quite warm, like I was back in Brisbane winter or something. It was a pretty good day to finish on. I had considered going on an intermediate run, but the snow was actually a bit icey, so I stuck with the beginners’ slopes instead.
I’ve had people tell me that snowboarding is “hard to learn, but easy to master”. For me, I feel like it was relatively easy to learn (the basics, anyway) but I had a bit of trouble actually mastering or advancing my skill. Part of it, I know, is my innate fear of injury, but it also just gives me a reason to want to keep practising. Can’t wait until my next snowboarding holiday!