Mount Dobson had opened its skifields a week earlier than normal as there’d been some snowfall and we decided to make the most of it. The fun thing was, I was the only one of the four of us ever to have been snowboarding before. Pam & Rob had invested in all the kit, but got to New Zealand in September so hadn’t actually seen useable snow as yet. Instead they’d been wasting their time surfing in the sunshine.
The drive wasn’t a short one – around 2 1/2 hours – but we did end up finding the people we were to be boarding with somewhere on the highway. Not difficult given that it’s almost all single carriageway and even on a journey that size there’s only one route to take. The skifield itself is up some very windy roads once the highway ends (no crash barriers, naturally) and the car park was icy to say the least. Despite setting off at 7am, the overflow car park was in use by the time we go there.
Giles, one of Rob’s colleagues, very kindly loaned me waterproof trousers, gloves and a jacket. Everyone else unpacked their kit as Lou and I headed to the hire shop. Two pairs of boots, two boards, one pair of trousers and a pair of wristguards later we plodged up the short slope to the nursery slope. (Note: the person on your right there is Pam, not Lou. I was asked to clear that up!)
Now I know I said I’d been before. But please bear in mind that the last time was January last year. And the first (and only other) time was 2 Januaries before that. So this was only my third time on a board.
Excuses out of the way, I was very pleased how quickly it all came back. Giles zoomed off up the tall slopes, giggling like a schoolchild who’s been waiting 9 months for this (which in truth he had), while his wife, Mel, pushed their two daughters around on their boards. The two little girls were used as an excuse by Pam, Rob and Lou to take quick breaks from landing on their backsides as well. OK, I admit it. Me too! As with Andorra the first time, though, I rapidly found myself boarding in a t-shirt as it was far too warm to wear a jacket.
The important thing is that everyone had fun, including the two little girls who didn’t even sulk all that much when told that it was time to go home. In fact, I think I sulked more than anyone else. One last zoom down the slightly larger slope (probably only a blue), zipping past rocks poking out of the snow and we went to hand all the kit in.
Needless to say, we were somewhat thirsty and hungry by the time we left, so we stopped at a small café not far from the foot of the mountain. Hot chocolate all round except for muggins here who e-numbered himself up to the eyeballs with three huge lumps of ice cream (lime swirl, orange choc chip and boysenberry if you’re asking). And I manage to drip exactly none on the car seats.
By the time we reached Christchurch it was dinner time. So we went to Hell. That’s a pizza chain – I believe they’re opening a branch in London soon. As well as letting you design your own (bland) pizzas, they do two utterly gorgeous dessert ones. Rob and I shared an apple/cinammon/berry crumble type one and I can vouch for their deliciousness. They also make a cracking breakfast.
Shortly after we got back, Lou checked her phone and we had one message. Megan Silva, born at 17:31 in Auckland to proud parents Indaka and Lisa. Congratulations to them both! Megan was one week and 5 days past her drop-by date and apparently well worth the wait!