Skiing New Zealand

Julian Callin University of Auckland, New Zealand


September 28, 2015

During week 2 of mid-semester break (New Zealand equivalent of spring break—and yes, it’s TWO weeks), fellow Arcadian, Taimur Shah, and I went skiing with the Auckland University Snow Sports club. The club owns a lodge on one side of Mt. Ruapehu and takes over one hundred students skiing for the second week of break every year. The North Island of New Zealand is unique in that the only snow build-up is on tall volcanoes which rise rapidly out of the ground and are very steep and rocky. A four hour drive brought us to the bottom of Ruapehu in the Tongariro wilderness. At this elevation, the surrounding land was still filled with pastures and small forests. The scenery changed rapidly as we drove up the mountain—going from lush and green to rocky and barren in a matter of a couple thousand feet. The ski village and lodges were situated well above the tree-line and we had our very own fresh mountain reservoir supplying clean water for the whole village. Heavy snow and wind quickly set in as we unpacked the car and arranged our sleeping quarters in the lodge. Day one started off windy, but quickly cleared up and revealed 20 centimeters of fresh snow and a perfect blue-bird day. Our group headed to the other side of the mountain, Turoa, to ski the fresh snow. Our ski passes worked at both areas, but I found Turoa much nicer as it was more accommodating for back-country skiing and the snow was better throughout the week. The first few days were bliss—the Kiwis told us the snow hadn’t been so good for years and that we were lucky to be skiing on anything that wasn’t ice or rocks. On Wednesday, my friend Stijn (whom I had met at the lodge) and I ended our day of skiing with an hour and a half hike from the top of the chairlift to the summit of Ruapehu. The hike was difficult with skis, but the view at the top was absolutely breathtaking. I include it in the top 5 most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Hiking the crater that day proved to be a wise decision, as the weather grew stormy again on Thursday morning and continued until we left mid-day Friday. Overall, I had a blast skiing in New Zealand for the first time. My expectations were blown through the roof (I grew up skiing Colorado snow) and I met tons of incredible new friends. Another shout-out to Stijn for carrying his skiis for an hour and a half without a backpack!