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With more consistent and forgiving snow conditions than other southern areas of the globe, the South Island of New Zealand is a friendly place to introduce yourself to your new sporting addiction, skiing or snowboarding.
Most winter lovers gravitate towards the snow meccas Wanaka or Queenstown. Both towns have a variety of accommodation options, bars, restaurants and (most importantly) masseuses. Wanaka is the more relaxed of the two towns, offering beautiful vistas over Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps, streets full of friendly locals and an easy, car free access to plenty of après venues and restaurants from most accommodation options.
Here are five tips for learning to snowboard or ski in New Zealand
Choose your weapon
As much talk as skiing vs snowboarding rivalry gets, it's all love on the New Zealand ski fields. It’s totally your choice if you want to be a knuckle dragged or a troll with poles (you will understand these phrases soon).
The progression on skis and snowboards is a little different, so it’s as good a place as any to start your research.
Skiing has the natural balance advantage of facing forward and being able to move your feet independently. It means you will spend more time on your feet than on your bum over the first few days. But having to master two big long planks can be harder than one over the longer term, so don't laugh to hard at your snowboarding mates with soggy pants.
Picking up snowboarding can be a little more taxing on your parts, perhaps made a little harder if the old flexibility is giving way as standing up from sitting can be a challenge. But once you’ve leant to use your edges, which typically takes 1 - 3 days, it is pretty smooth sailing from that point on.
Where to go
The four Wanaka / Queenstown ski mountains all have great beginner facilities, so no bad decisions can be made. Treble Cone has a few advantages including a much longer beginner area that is completely cut off from all other runs. That meaning no zooming through traffics and more space to clock up some series mileage, helping you master the fundamentals. And best of all it's absolutely FREE to using, including two surface lifts.
Smoothing the progression
Going it alone, is a sure recipe for frustration. Going it with a friend can be double frustration. Grab a dream boat professional and your experience will be drastically improved.
First Timer packages at Treble Cone are only NZ$ 99 (cheapest in the region by NZ$ 30) including FREE access to the beginner slopes, a 2 hour group lesson with a maximum of 7 others for adults or 4 others for kids, all day ski or snowboard rentals, a scenic chairlift ride and espresso coffee or hot chocolate from the cafe.
Take an R&R day
One of the benefits of staying in Wanaka or Queenstown is the amount and variety of off snow activities for those days your body says ‘no’. If you ski at Treble Cone or Cardrona on a Flexi Pass (joint lift pass) you will gain exclusive access to the 'Snow & Save' programme, providing discounted activities such as tours of New Zealand’s famous pinot noir region, something more extreme like skydiving from 15,000 ft or a visit to one of the many day spas.
Be proud of what you achieved
Ok, so maybe you didn’t ski New Zealand’s highest peaks or gap Cardrona’s 70ft jumps, but everyone has been a beginner and everyone is equal at après story time. Be proud of what you’ve achieved and get amongst the post ski action at any number of Queenstown or Wanaka’s lakeside bars. Talk about how you took down your instructor, tangled in a pile of jackets and gloves or how a 4 year old kid zoomed past you on the beginners slope. At minimum you are guaranteed some good laughs and maybe even a few new friends to ride with the next day.
Good luck with your adventure skiing New Zealand’s wonderful beginner slopes whilst mastering your new favorite sport. For more information visit www.treblecone.com.