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Journeys : Jun Jul 2011
Nudging 60, I’m lining up for my first snowboarding lesson. I’ve skied since I was a teenager but I want to give snowboarding a try before reaching that landmark in my life – and time is running out! There’s only one other student in the class. She’s not getting any younger either, but at the age of six, she’s got all the time in the world. Our instructor has a broken arm but she’s upbeat and cheerful. She promises me that after only one lesson I’ ll be snowboarding like gold medallist Torah Bright – after her first lesson. So off we go, the old bloke, the comedienne in plaster and the little poppet, hopping and slither ing over to the beginners’ lift, a strip of slow-moving green carpet that delivers us at a very stately pace to the top of the easiest run on the mountain. Over the next hour, young and old alike lear n how to reach an upright position when both feet are locked unnaturally on a rigid plank. We discover the thrill of side- slipping on our edges, almost in control. Slipping and sliding through Mackenzie Country Chris Viney We even manage to zig-zag in long, slow traverses across the slope, mostly collapsing at the end of each zig, then struggling up again to start the next zag. My lesson is at Ohau ski field, one of several easy-going, family-friendly skiing and boarding areas in and around the Mackenzie region, in the heart of New Zealand’s Souther n Alps. Think of high-countr y New Zealand and you’ll probably have a picture in your mind of Mackenzie landscapes – sweeping plains of wind-tossed tussocks that r ipple in the breeze like the tawny fur of some great beast; sky-blue lakes, opaque with rock- f lour, crushed to a powder by glaciers; f locks of sheep, of course; and majestic alpine peaks, sheathed in outcrops of black rock and sheets of pure white snow and ice. The ski fields in this part of the South Island, a comfortable three-hour drive from Christchurch, are smaller, friendlier, cheaper, less crowded and more casual than the high-profile locations near Queenstown, another three hours further south. JudithVineyChrisViney This page: Ohau skifield above Lake Ohau: the patterns of winter in the Southern Alps Destinations 18 June / July 2011
Apr May 2011
MNJ Aug Sep 2011