New Zealand 2006

Some people save money to buy new cars, electronics, food/booze. Well I

save my money to travel. So when I saw a $700 flight to Auckland, NZ I

booked it. It just so happened that the New Zealand Freeskiing Open was

happening at the same time too.

I

didn't have much time between when the New Zealand Open began and when

I needed to be back in the States for the start of the Semester. So

basically, I had enough time to get there, get used to the jet lag,

then come home and start school. But I never once questioned the worth

of the trip since skiing in New Zealand has always been a dream of mine.

I

was flying out of Denver on August 10, to LAX, and planned to carry on

to Auckland, then to Queenstown. Unfortunately, while in the air

between Denver and LAX, 24 suspects were arrested in the plot to use

various liquids to blow up multiple transatlantic flights. When I

arrived in Los Angeles things were chaotic. Suddenly, when people

thought their bags were packed and ready to go they're told from one

TSA person that they can't bring any liquids, another TSAer says not

even pens, chap sticks, or deodorants, another says no carry-ons what

so ever. For me, my flight that would take me from LA to Auckland was

coming in from London. ... It would be delayed and wouldn't get to LA

for another 12 hours. Well the one convenience of that was that I would

have plenty of time to drag all of my ski stuff from the LAX domestic

terminal to their international terminal. For this I still hate LAX.

After

a couple of failed attempts at napping and complimentary airport

Wolfgang Pucks I finally got on the Air New Zealand flight. 17 hours

later I landed in Auckland and caught my domestic flight to Queenstown.

Flying into Queenstown in a beautiful experience in itself. The

Remarkables poke up at the plane and you wind your way down into the

valley floor. Somehow or another, despite my 12 hour delay, my transfer

van to Wanaka was there waiting for me.

The

drive from Queenstown to Wanaka is a great introduction to New Zealand.

You'll pass picturesque green fields backed by rolling hills dotted

with sheep (not surprising in a country with a greater sheep population

than human).

There

are dozens of inns/lodges/and hostels to stay at in Wanaka, especially

in the winter. Some of them are known for being quiet places for the

non-20something skiers and snowboarders and then the place where you

can always go for a good time. I settled for a good in between, the

Matterhorn South. And for even a few more bucks I was able to get a

private little cabin in back, perfect for me since I had sever jet lag

to deal with for only 4 days. But when you're not skiing or sleeping,

the common room was a great place to meet friends, friends who would

also be up at 4 in the morning and willing to make the 4am meat pie run

with you (Thanks Megan).

There

really was little need for me to rent a car while in Wanaka. Getting to

SnowPark is really an easy task. You'll either meet people who will

happily give you a ride up or you'll hitch from the local stop. Either

way, just pitch in a little on gas and you'll always have a ride. I did

find though that I always got to and down from SnowPark when I road

with a local Kiwi.

Amazingly,

in the Kiwi winter, almost all the shops on the main drag in Wanaka

have ice cream. The good stuff too. Which is awesome to lick as you

walk around the parks near the lake.

I

only skied at SnowPark while I was in New Zealand. I was scheduled to

compete at Treble Cone, but high winds and snow canceled that day,

which was later spent crocheting in the Matterhorn South lounge room. I

also tried to schedule a day to go sky dive, but again, the wind

canceled that excursion too.

So,

while I found Wanaka beautiful, fun, and amazing, I feel the desperate

urge to return for a longer stay and ski the whole island, sky dive,

hike, and do everything else that New Zealand has to offer.

Oh yeah, and the plane ride home was just as confusing as the way out.


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