A beginners guide to skiing

As Auckland persists with its drizzly cold days, I’m kicking myself for the bad timing of our trip, writing this post from the depths of winter number two (under the safety of my duck down duvet). I’m bypassing Facebook for fear of seeing all those bronzed Brits lapping up the heatwave…only to be secretly relieved when I Skype home and see that the sky is the same shade of white as it is here. *smug face*

But its not all doom and gloom!

We spent last weekend knee deep in snow up Mount Ruapehu…amen to winter and its cold fronts! What you can see below is an active volcano, massive high five to mother nature for that beauty.

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I took myself off to ski school, freshly kitted out with all the essentials, whilst Matt disappeared on his snowboard, only to be seen later flying above the clouds.

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Learning to ski at this age is probably somewhat more challenging than doing it when you’re six, because as you get older you get “the fear”, which means you’re not as good at throwing yourself down a mountain on two bits of wood strapped to each foot as you might have been as a kid. Which is apparent when I’m waiting for my ski instructor to collect me whilst watching small people barely out of their diapers flying down a mountain.

We’re staying in the ski resort of Whakapapa, halfway up a mountain in a 20-person lodge overlooking a whole lot of natural beauty.

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My ski lesson takes two hours – one session in the morning followed by self-practice (mostly spent trying to figure out how to stand up after you’ve stacked it and all your skis want to do is to keep moving forward), and one hour in the afternoon, where we recap on what we have learnt (or not quite mastered).

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This is what I learnt at ski school:

  • ‘The pizza’ is a signature move that should be adopted at all times. Otherwise known as ‘the wedge’ or ‘the triangle’, it involves pointing your toes together whilst spreading your legs wide (pardon). If you can master this, the hard part is over.
  • If you are sliding at some speed and you haven’t quite figured out the stop button on your skis, throw yourself to the floor. Even when you do hit the floor, you’ll probably still keep hurtling down the hill, but at least you’ll have more chance of slowing down/grabbing at a nearby object (tree/person/whatever) to stop yourself.
  • Don’t worry if you take someone out on the slopes. It’s all part of learning. And everyone does it, right?
  • You don’t need layers of thermals and hats and scarfs… If the sun is shining you’ll be like a baked potato in the oven under all your ski gear.
  • Ski boots hurt and make you walk like a drunk cowboy. Be prepared for this, wear long socks that are much higher than the boot itself (knee length is good). Practice by walking around with straight legs but bent knees. Confused? You will be. The areas where those ski boots enclosed my legs are still hurting four days later.
  • Those ski lifts…tricky business attempting to hop onto one of those whilst trying to stand up straight in your skis on an icy surface, holding onto the poles, your ski pass, and your gloves all at the same time. If in doubt, take your skis off and carry them onto the lift. Problem solved!
  • Remember where your hut is. This seems obvious but when you’re up a mountain, although the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful, it is a bit samey. One snow covered peak can look a lot like another. And don’t use a ski lift as a nearby point of recognition, because funnily enough there are also a lot of those up a mountain. And you can’t always rely on your boyfriend seeing you wandering aimlessly in the snow from the safety of a ski lift and pointing you in the right direction…

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All in all, I managed to do a few solid runs without hitting anyone or falling over so I’ve signed myself up to another ski holiday next month down in Christchurch.

We also met a cool bunch of people, learnt some new card games, ate some good food, and found eco-friendly ways to chill our beers.

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In other news, we’ve mostly been doing cool nature stuff like this…(when the weather permits)

Frolicking on the beach

I couldn’t believe this was a winters day at Karekare Beach. Its as warm and sunny as it looks. Karekare is a black sand beach over on the west coast and it is HUGE. It would take you hours to walk the length of it. It also has loads of cool sand dunes which are way fun for running up/sliding down.

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Plenty of hiking

Up streams, through bush, along the coastline – every weekend deserves a hike.

Over the hill from Bethell’s lies this drop of paradise…

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At Goldie Bush you mostly have to meander your way through rivers to follow the track. Luckily we met a friendly duck who guided us along the way for a good few hours.

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Matt braving the icy waters on a track near Piha…

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Hunting waterfalls in the Waitakere Ranges

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That’s enough nature porn for one evening. Signing off for the night. I’ll be back next month with part two of my guide to skiing.

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One thought on “A beginners guide to skiing

  1. Pingback: Magical Middle Earth: skiing in Queenstown | Everyday Explorers

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