Drove up to Mount Hutt this weekend to try our hand at some skiing. AM had never skied before and I'd only done about 5 days around 6 years ago.
The drive up to Mt Hutt from Chch is a little under 2 hours and is oddly flat most of the way. This is adequately compensated for by the last 14km up a typically surfaced Kiwi backroad. The road surface was mainly compacted scree and the drive up to the top of the mountain stayed on compacted scree all the way up. Sheer drops either side and impatient Kiwi skiers overtaking on what is only a 2 way road in name. Quite a horrendous drive. Mt Hutt has not had it's first big dump of snow yet this year but when it does we'll need to learn how to put our snow chains on before slip slidding our way up this scree road with vertical drop-offs down thousands of feet, sometimes on either side at once. Not the best start to the day.
Preparations for skiing soon dulled the driving experience as we were fitted with all the gear and much shorter skis than I expected - new technology with different shape skis I'm told. Seemed to work ok!
Mt Hutt is the most consistent area for skiing in NZ, and apart from the road, is very well set up, very well organised, reasonably priced, good cafe, friendly - generally excellent. A one day starter pak
cost NZ$80 (£27) including skis, boots, lift pass and 2 classes.
We both had excellent instruction in the classes. AM learned loads and seems to have taken to skiing very quickly. My refresher classes helped a bit to get me going again. Ultimately though, getting a bit fed up with the intensive queueing on the lowest learner slopes persuaded me to go up to the next slope. Things got a bit steeper up there which I think helped me remember how to turn a bit more clearly. When faced with a steep slope I couldnt afford to keep "having a bit of trouble with my left turns" and had to make the turn or fall off.
Overall we had a great day and a great introduction/re-introduction to skiing. We stayed the night in Methven at a great place called Alpenhorn Chalet (kind of a privately run hostel/b&b) and nursed our aching limbs in The Lodge in town whilst watching Oz beat the Pomms in the Rugby test.
At the moment Mt Hutt is quite quiet because they are still awaiting their first big dump, and I guess things are a little icy on the slopes. Good snow reports and snow cams
are available on their website though.
We hauled ourselves out of bed early for our planned next day of skiing only to see a weather report at the hostel telling us the road up to Mt Hutt and the ski runs were closed due to high North Westerlies (they once lost a camper van over the side of the "road" in high winds). So, we just headed back to ChCh for some mountain biking.