Morning mist over Lake Takapo
"You know you have a good friend when you tell them a dozen times that you don't have enough money for snowboarding, and they cover your expenses and convince you to go anyway."
There were a few reasons Dave was so persistent in his efforts in persuading us to go snowboarding. Firstly, in celebration of their 30th anniversary, Mt Dobson was having an open day with free snowboarding. Secondly, it was Eriko, his girlfriend's birthday, and he really wanted to take her out for a special weekend. Thirdly, friends of his own a set of beautiful chalet's right on Lake Takepo that they let us use at a discounted rate. And fourthly, weeks and weeks of drearly rain and cold have finally paid off by covering the mountain with a 1m snow base! That said, he is still one of the most generous people we know. (Thanks Dave!!)
We left on the Friday evening, as soon as Darrell finished varsity and headed off in Dave's new blue 4X4. Unfortunately the sun set shortly after we'd come through the Lincoln farmlands so we missed out on some of the view on the way down. The drive was loads of fun though - we were completely kitted out with cokes, sweets, chippies, and some biscuits that I'd attempted, that hadn't turned out the way they should, but were still good...
We must have
arrived shortly after 8 and were shown to our chalet. Dave's friends had set aside for us their biggest, best, and most beautiful chalet, and it really was something! There was a lounge with and open fireplace, a full kitchen, a bathroom (with a bath!
) and 2 bedrooms. After a quick excursion to the ice rink to watch some of the local ice hockey, we all piled into our beds, eager to start the snowboarding the next day.
The highlight of the chalet, the highlight of the chalet, it turns out, we only discovered in the light of the new day. It was not what it looked like on the inside, but rather where
it was situated. About 50m from our front pattio was the magestic Lake Takepo, the surrounding mountains reflected in the lake's glassy, mist covered waters. It was awesome in the truest sense of the word.
We eagerly hustled around getting ourselves ready, lunch packed (thanks Dave!), breakfast in (thanks Darrell!), car filled with all sorts of snowboarding paraphernalia, and finally on the way for some epic snowboarding! Lake Takepo is about 30 minutes away from Mt Dobson, and is a beautiful drive through the
Nice and warm
valleys and hills of the southern district. As we started getting closer to the mountain, we started noticing more and more cars, heading in the same direction as we were. It appears they'd heard about the free opening day too...
The long winding trail up to the summit got more and more tense the closer and closer we got! -especially when we started seeing the snow! 😊 Dave handled the car really well on the steep slope that was icy and slippery in some places. It definitely would have been a good thing to bring wheel chains, just for in case.
There were so many people that came out for the free snowboarding that both the parking lots were filled up and people started parking on the narrow road leading up to the mountain! Still the mountain itself did not feel crowded.
Man, it was good to be on the mountain again! Dave and Darrell picked up right where they left off and were whizzing down the mountain like pros in no time. Eriko and I, on the other hand, needed to get into it a bit more slowly. Snowboarding is a bit like standing on a
long narrow tea tray and trying to direct it down a slippery slope. It takes a lot of time before you realize that you actually control the board, not just survive it! (Eriko and I were still able to compare the bruises on our knees 2 weeks later!). As the day moved on, we both started getting a bit more confident and Eriko, in particular, started improving in giant leaps from slope to slope.
Due to the high volume of people that had come out for the day, the chair lift took so much strain that it broke! Conveniently, this was at about lunch time, so we, and the rest of the folk headed back to their cars for a sandwich.
The second half of the day was somewhat less successful than the first half, and consisted of incidences like: me getting dragged half way up the mountain on my back cos I didn't want to let go of the T-bar that had pulled me over
Breaking a clip on my board while being dragged on my back half way up a mountain
Watching the same cranky pants T-bar operator not help a dad and his little girl
while they too were pulled over by the T-bar.
Hearing that Cranky pants hadn't helped Eriko either, and had even sent her to the back of the queue after she'd had the sense to let go after it pulled her over... (it was about a 30 min wait in the queue)
That was only about an hour though. The chair lift started working again and we took turns on the boards for a few more runs before heading back down the mountain. All in all a FANTASTIC day out snowboarding!
Under Dave's insistence (and no objection from us this time) we headed over to the hot pools by the ice rink for a bit of soothing muscle relaxation. It was like being back in a jjimjilbang in Korea... only co-ed, outside and with our cossies on! I think we must have spent about 2 hours Goldilocksing the 3 different pools before heading home for some spag bol and the Lord of the Rings. What a great day.
This time were were going to be joining up with Micky, the friend whose folks owned the chalet, and this time piled up his bakkie with our
snowboarding paraphernalia before leaving first thing in the morning. The road up the mountain, although empty, seemed to be a lot more slippery and icy than the day before. Some of the sections were quite scary with the car skidding a bit. We passed a bus that was having a far worse time than we were. He was stuck near the edge of the road and every time he tried to pull off, he drifted closer to the edge. We offered to help, but ended up almost getting stuck ourselves! This ice stuff is dangerous! I think he managed to get his chains on and about 20 minutes after we reached the top, we saw him summiting too.
The slopes were practically deserted compared to the day before and I was lucky enough and the staff were kind enough to find the right screws for me to borrow from the rental shop so that I could still use my board. Again, it was a super fun day. There were no queues by the chair lift (which ran beautifully all day), Eriko improved like a beastie (again) and I managed to get the T-bar right - It was a matter
of pride 😊 The boys were great in supporting us and a real inspiration!
Micky was on his skies, and is incredible. We reached our maximum impressed-ness when we saw him taking the T-bar up on one ski! He says it's good to practice using one foot at a time, so that you learn to rely on both your feet evenly when using 2 skis.... He was a great guy to chat to and get to know.
We had agreed to meet at the car again shortly after 4 to get back to Christchurch in time for an ice hockey game that Micky was playing in. (A full day's snowboarding followed by an ice hockey match... crazy folk!) So, at 3:30 we decided to have one more run. As we were riding the chair lift up, the wind got stronger and stronger. I think we were actually one of the last people on the lift because as we got the the top the wind was so strong it kept either blowing us over! When we did manage to stay on our feet, the wind kept blowing us off track! It was nuts... I think we were all happy
Church of the good shepherd
Built on the shores of Lake Takapo in 1935
to be back in the warm car by the time we got to the bottom 😊 What an adventure! What a weekend!
Thanks Dave, you're a legend! Happy birthday Eriko!
Things to remember for next time
Extra board bolts and clips for boards
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