Saturday, August 8, 2009

Day 1 - Mount Hutt and Methven

Last night I packed and squished as much as I could into my snowboard coffin. Who knew how cold it was going to be down there, and how long I would need to make my clothes last, ie how many times I'd need to recycle a thermal or two. Ewwww. I thought I managed to keep the weight down too, but @ 26kg it was over the 25kg weight limit on Air NZ and I had to repack and move things into my hand baggage twice at 8am at the airport to comply. Perhaps those coffins aren't such a great idea when you can only have 25kg per piece on Air exceptions.

CHCH Airport, our luggage but not our car

We arrived at Christchurch after a rather beautiful flight. The skies were clear over the North Island and you could clearly see all the familiar volcanoes. Bye Bye Ruapehu, we'll be back soon.

Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu

Organising the car seemed to take an age, but it was only an hour, and by 11.30am we were in our trusty hired Subaru station-wagon en route to Methven. The pub where we were staying wasn't hard to find at all, it's blue and called the "Blue Pub". The first bag explosion occured to find the snowboarding gear, all checked in, some beer supplies purchased and back on the road at 1.30, to be on the slopes by 2. Whew. We have 15 potential riding days, so we made it our mission to make tracks at Mt Hutt as soon as we possibly could!

The Blue Pub, and Methven's street lamps just like 'Kune!

It was the first of many unfamiliar mountain roads we were to drive on and WOW! While it is rather wide for most of the trip up, it sure was rough and bumpy! As we went up people were starting to come down. We thought maybe it was cos it wasn't that great up there, but turns out that the runs were being swallowed by the fast encroaching afternoon shadow. (Riding on the western slopes of Ruapehu, you forget that we get all that afternoon light.) The snow was actually rather nice today. We got warned by some helpful Australians "watch out for that ice". I couldn't see any blue anywhere, it seemed to be rather firm snow, and we could slice through it sweet as. It tricked us on our first warm up run on the Quad tho, as we came across bald white patches we thought it was going to be slick ice for sure. People don't know what ice is down here!

Top of the Summit 6, view of the road and the plains

We met some friends from up north who were in Christchurch for the weekend at the same time, doing runs off the Summit 6 and exploring the place, finishing off with an aprés in the shade at the café. Another bumpy ride back down the road, and I stupidly managed to delete all of the first days photo's hitting the wrong button while bouncing around in the car. DORK. Thank goodness I had a travel buddy on this trip so I could share her pics.

empty Hutt, a cool beer in the shade

We met our friends back at the pub, and as we hadn't yet been shopping for any supplies we treated ourselves to a feast of lamb shanks and other fine pub fare. After feeling earlier in the day that Methven hardly felt like a ski town, now the opposite was true. It seemed like the whole of CHCH had slid off the mountains and into the bar. Ahhh this was more like it. The sweet swish of snow pants and loud hubub of post snowtime chatter. We got talking with some locals next to us and explained that us 2 girls were about to embark on a tour of the clubbies. They raved about the area, but also said that more snow was needed as it had been a while since any freshies and things needed topping up.

By 8 we were all tucked up in bed at the pub. The band downstairs didn't start till later. We'd had a relatively early start to the day, and knew there were many more days ahead, and a rest up was needed. The next day we had hoped to hit our first field on the Chill Pass (Porters was the aim) however we are pleasantly surprised with the current conditions at Mt Hutt, so have decided to meet our friends there again. We'll do a half day again, as we didn't plan on paying for lots of day passes. So a big sleep in tomorrow hopefully!

our room