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Published: July 11th 2009
We arrived in NZ early on Sunday morning after 14 hours flying. We had arranged to fly into Christchurch so that we could pick up our snowboard bag (more on that later!) and buy a car. The car bit was a lot easier than we had anticipated it would be and we promptly became the proud owners of a 1993 Subaru Legacy (focus on the Subaru part and not the fact that it is an old estate car). Anyway, we love our new wheels and they dutifully got us from Christchurch to Queenstown so they can't be all bad despite some suspect smells and noises. Subaru is a Japanese make and the number plate starts "YZ" so as with all good old bangers we have named him Yamamoto Zamagochi or YamZam for short.
The bag bit was not so easy. Thanks to a UK customs strike our bag was not in Christchurch waiting for us as planned, nor did it arrive whilst we remained in Christchurch for 2 days. Instead it finally arrived on the Friday (5 days late) and that was only after we had driven to collect it from a depot to avoid it being delivered on Monday.
We drove down to Queenstown via a bit of the East Coast of the South Island then cutting inland to drive through the central South Island. What a drive, the views were stunning. Beautiful snow capped peaks and rolling farmland the whole way and we often drove for several miles without seeing anyone else. As we have friends coming over in mid August we are going to do the proper sightseeing then so for now we just wanted to get down to Queenstown to check out the snow.
It was a 6 hour drive so we arrived at our home for the next 8 weeks mid-afternoon. We are staying in a lakeside lodge in Kingston, a small town around the lake from Queenstown. It is a quiet town with only one pub and one shop but as the ski fields are next to Queenstown we can get there for anything more we need anytime. The lodge has a log burner, which we haven't been all that successful in using so far, keeping a fire burning for longer than about 5 minutes is no mean feat, but we will persevere. The lodge is really cosy and we are getting
to look after ourselves again rather than having to eat out all the time. We've sampled some of the New Zealand lamb and it is goooood, and Sarah has also become addicted to the Aussie/NZ classic - Tim Tam's (similar to Penguins but so much better - try them if you ever get the chance, you'll love them too!).
Obviously, the main purpose of our trip in NZ is snowboarding and we have managed a couple of days on the slopes so far. We have season passes to two ski fields - The Remarkables and Coronet Peak (the latter including first tracks, allowing us up on the lifts an hour before those with the normal pass). At the moment there isn't much powder as it is early on in the season, but the snow is good and it rides really fast, very different to Europe. It's quite a different set up here from Europe, it's not based around on mountain resorts, you drive up to the ski field each day, and the ski fields are much smaller than your typical Alpine resort. On the plus side, there are lots more boarders here so you don't get skiiers whinging about
us all the time and queues work as the English intended when they invented them so you don't get Jean-Claude barging in front of you every 2 minutes.
We are going back up the mountain to do some "night skiing" this evening and are looking to book in a lesson or two soon to hone our skills.
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