Although the snow is rarely phenomenal, the scenery makes up for it in New Zealand. The picture below was a good 20cm powder day in the Cardrona backcountry. I was given a promo Rome board so we posed for a catalogue shot with it! We had season passes at Cardrona ski resort where we enjoyed mellow off piste and playing in the park. Nothing epic or huge, the length of run depends on the snow line. In warm years the resort accesses very short runs as you can’t drop any lower than the lifts. The mellow (aka flat) snow capped hills set against the brown grass lower hillside earns the resort the nickname ‘Flat White’ after the NZ coffee with a touch of white foam on top.
Treble Cone near Wanaka was the pick of the ski resorts on south islands for me personally. During our season there, we visited it on a few good powder days. Treble Cone is still a small resort with 3 lifts but has such cool terrain to ski or snowboard. All the fun stuff is easily accessed from some well thought out lift locations.
The even smaller club fields dotted around the South Island add fun options too. For me New Zealand is worth another trip, but not just for the snowboarding. The huge snow parks aside, it is a long way to travel for some summer snow that might be worse than glacier skiing in Europe. It depends hugely on the snowfall, more so than European or N. American areas, as the often grassy slopes don’t need much snow to allow riding on them and this opens many more touring options that can extend lower down the mountains if the snow is plentiful. It is more about the all round experience and we certainly enjoyed our year there.
Lake Wanaka is rarely snowbound in winter meaning you can mountain bike all year or go for a swim if so inclined. My feeble back flip in the picture resulted in significant back slappage and I narrowly missed a gigantic eel big enough to eat my arm!
In the picture below we mountain biked the crown range through a couple of inches of snow, for some reason I only took a gillet and it was freezing cold. After the ride we were to cold to pedal up the road to the car so I hitched, it was dusk so few cars were about but finally a minivan pulled over and a group of fairly drunk Kiwis welcomed me in all enjoying a drink, even the driver, up the twisty mountain road!
As winter was arriving we entered a long distance cycle race around lake Tekapo near Christchurch, at about 100km it’s quite a long MTB race. The beutiful landscape is on private land so it’s a one off chance to see some amazing countryside, it also involves a few deep river crossings as well!
After cycle touring for so long I was in pretty good shape for this race, it was therefore a shame I was late to the start and ended up having to overtake about 400 competitors just to get near the leading group! I also did a 12 hour MTB race and a multisport peak to peak race, this was a ski from The remarkables, then MTB down the steep gravel access road, a kayak across the lake, a run through Queenstown and I did the final road ride up to coronet peak ski area! The kiwis like a challenge.