***** New Zealand's specialty is the multi-day "tramp" such
is the scale of the country, and the South Island in particular.
Multi-day trips are helped by a significant network of huts
Some of the highlights included: Welcome Flats The Kepler
Track Stewart Island The Routeburn Track The Humpridge track
**** Skiing. My skiing skills were very limited when we
landed in New Zealand. I am no expert now, but the Kiwi ski
fields - and tuition from my own International Ski Bunny -
certainly helped me improve. Being based in Christchurch,
it was a two hour drive to the club ski fields of Arthur's
Pass. There is an excellent network of ski areas here (http://www.chillout.co.nz/home.asp).
The bigger commercial ski fields around Queenstown & Wanaka
are about a 5-6 hour drive from Christchurch. Did we take
advantage? You bet! We became "honorary Non-members" of the
West Coast Alpine Club (got a certificate and everything).
Along with excellent company for the year, we also had access
to the club hut in Arthur's Pass village. This helped us get
to most of the areas club ski fields. Our first challenge
was to learn the ropes. Just about all the club ski fields
use rope tows to get you to the tops. (Old tractors never
die - they power the rope tow system!) Perfecting the use
of a nutcracker was critical to the process! After having
had about 6 skiing days in my life - on pisted slopes - I
then had to pick my way down the unpisted club fields (cleverly
marketed as the largest off-piste skiing area in New Zealand).
The slopes are unpisted as the machinery is probably too expensive
for the non-commercial clubs, but I reckon that some of the
slopes may be too steep anyway. My second skiing weekend (July)
in New Zealand, I won a token prize in a telemarking competition
for being so crap. By the end of the season (October) I was
managing to pole plant telemark turns down steep unpisted
slopes. Great fun! http://www.chillout.co.nz/mountains/nutcracker/default.asp.