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Published: August 1st 2010
The harbour bridge was completely enveloped in a big patch of fog but the sun managed to find a way in!
Let me start by saying Happy Birthday Glynn! For his birthday this year, we took the day off work and Glynn got to make use of the present I gave him last birthday - an all-expenses paid trip to Auckland's indoor snow arena, Snow Planet, for some snowboarding.
The drive to north Auckland took nearly an hour owing to the tail-end of rush hour and a patchy, heavy fog that one minute let in brilliant sunshine and the next shrouded the world in a dense white pea soup. It was particularly eerie approaching the Auckland Harbour Bridge which was almost entirely immersed in fog so that only the merest tip of iron curve could be seen. The view from the bridge looking back towards Auckland CBD was equally ethereal, with the Sky Tower peeking up through the low cloud seemingly unattached to the ground below!
We arrived at SnowPlanet at 10am just as the facility opened its doors. We queued for our tickets, then queued again for jackets, trousers and boots. Both of us had to return to the clothes counter several times for a size change - I had to try 3 pairs of trousers and 4 pairs
Peeking through the fog, you can just about see the Sky Tower. Taken from the harbour bridge.
of boots before I was ready, all of which took a long time with just one attendant at the clothing desk. By the time we were kitted out it was 10.45am and we had already lost 15 mins of our private snowboarding lesson and were feeling quite annoyed.
Our instructor, a nice blonde haired girl that reminded me of my friend Mia, took us straight out into the snow dome and after a quick lesson on how to clip your boot to your board and how to walk with one foot clipped in and one out, we were off up the travelator. The travelator is a bit like a conveyor belt taking skiers and boarders up to the top of the beginner's slopes. Many people didn't leave enough of a gap for people to get off and there were frequent pile-ups at the top, some of which we were inadvertently involved in!
We were given some guidance on how to manoeuvre our snowboards and then had our first go downhill. Glynn did really well, sliding with confidence and adjusting his balance nicely whereas I was extremely nervous and fell over before making it to the bottom. We were
A purpose built indoor snow arena and scene of our first snowboarding experience.
next shown how to do basic turns left and right which were quite tricky and before we knew it, our tuition time was up. Time to go it alone.
We each rode down the slopes with varying degrees of success, both of us feeling hampered by the hoardes of toddlers and parents tobogganing down with little regard for anyone else using the slopes. Around midday, the slopes seemed to quieten substantially. The young tobogganers were gone and a good few earlybird skiers and boarders had gone for lunch. We practically had the nursery slopes to ourselves and made the most of it. Glynn perfected sliding straight downhill quite quickly but I had managed to fall over at least once, sometimes twice on every run so far. Now that there weren't so many human obstacles in the way though, my confidence grew and I nailed 5 rides straight downhill without falling off once! It was a brilliant feeling!
At 1pm, we took a break and enjoyed a delicious lunch in the SnowPlanet cafe. Glynn treated himself to a 100% pure beef burger, I had a yummy pumpkin and carrot soup and we shared a big bowl of curly fries.
Here's the brithday boy outside our home for the day.
From the cafe we looked out to the base of the slopes and I was pleased to see I wasn't the only person having trouble staying upright!
When we were ready to head back into the snow dome again, we were horrified to see a large group of language school students being prepped for a lesson. We managed a couple of rides down the slopes before the group came out, split into two and proceeded to take over both of the nursery slopes. It was impossible to get enough space to ride down without colliding with the students en route so we waited at the bottom for them to finish.
After 30 minutes of standing around in the cold, I went inside to check when the group would be finishing. The guy at customer services enquired if I was having a good day, a question he was about to regret asking. I pretty much let loose all my frustrations over being late for our lesson, the toddler tobogganists and now the language school taking over the only area where we could possibly snowboard. He listened patiently and then offered us an additional 30 minute lesson free of charge
Jish takes shelter from the cold. It was around -4 in the snowdome!
and booked it for after the language school had finished.
The extra lesson was great for me as I still hadn't managed to pull off a stop-turn without falling. The new instructor took me through the manoeuvres in baby steps, something the morning teacher hadn't had time to do. Glynn had already mastered both the left and right turns and so got some extra help on combining the moves. He was doing really well and I improved as a result of the extra training.
We had another good few attempts each and then took break. By now our bodies were starting to tire but we were keen to stay until at least 6pm after which time the rush hour traffic on the way home should have died down. We went out again and had few more successful rides. I then took another hard fall and struggled to get upright again. As much as I was enjoying myself, my body had taken quite a beating by now and I reluctantly decided to call it a day. I left Glynn to enjoy the slopes a little longer but after about 15 minutes, he too was happy to finish for the
Glynn's first attempt to snowboard without the instructor - and he did brilliantly!
It was a fun way to spend Glynn's birthday and we will definitely be back for some more snowboarding in the near future. Just as soon as our muscles recover and our bruises have healed, that is!
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