A Day at Mt. Hutt

July 15, 2013

We’ve been talking about snowboarding in New Zealand since we visited in 2011. Maybe since before that. I can’t keep track of all the things I claim I’m going to do in my lifetime. But this weekend I finally got to tick that box. Get up the hill, to the Southern Alps, and get some runs in on the old snowboard. Sweet!

We always lived close enough to the snow for a day trip, but it’s downright convenient from Christchurch. We went to Mt. Hutt, which is by no means the closest ski field we could have chosen. It is, however, the closest one with ski lifts, which we felt were necessary after nearly 18 months off.

Sooo close! Yet half way across the country.

Yeah, about that. All the “club fields” (as opposed to “ski fields”, not to be confused with the much larger and fancier “ski resorts”… which are in other countries) have rope tows and if you’re lucky, T-bar tows. No unnecessary chair lifts. Don’t worry, club fields still cost you a pretty penny to skit at, so your wallet won’t know you’re missing out on the ritzy experience. But on the flip side, you’ll be one of few, instead of one of a few thousand.

The drive to Mt. Hutt is beautiful, mostly through farmland (where I saw the biggest fattest pink pig of my life).
It seems like you’re just driving along staring at sheep until BAM, there’s a mountain in the paddock (see above picture). Then you cross a river (below picture), then you stop in Methven to buy chains because that┬ádidn’t occur to you, then you start your ascent up the hill. It’s a fairly formidable drive up Mt. Hutt, and apparently that’s one of the milder ones. Regardless, beautiful views ensued.
When’s the last time you could see the ocean from your ski resort?
Fencing that looks very likely to slow down an avalanche….
If you ever visit New Zealand’s mountainy regions, you’re likely to meet a Kea. The first time we met a kea, was in Arthur’s Pass 2 years ago. We came up on them after a hike in the rain. There were 3 of them eating the weather stripping off our rental car. We laughed (because the car was a rental) and took tons of touristy pictures of them doing ridiculous things.
This time, they were digging rocks and ice chunks out of the snow… for what purpose, you ask? Solely to chuck the rocks and ice chunks at each other. Awesome. So, again, we laughed and took tons of touristy pictures of them doing ridiculous things.
The snow parrot, the snow, the farms, and the ocean.
Close up Kea and his weapon of choice in beak, ready to be hurled…
The rest is less interesting to read/write about. We snowboarded. We had a really good time. It was sunny and nice out. Not nearly as crowded as Tahoe. Mt. Hutt is one of the largest and highest ski fields in NZ, and yet is about as big and as crowded as Mt. Shasta. Pretty sweet.
Looking off towards the west…
Wish I’d had the 2 wines it looks like I had!
Anyhow, all in all a great day. And it’s awesome to ski until closing, be leisurely, stop for pies on the way home, and still roll in at 6pm! And I got to tick one of those vital life boxes.

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