So the New Zealand winter is now over, snow is all but melted and the bikes trails are looking all the more inviting! For me it signals the time to pack up and move onto the next place.
Its funny how such a nomadic lifestyle can bring together such amazing people who become great friends, this year in particular i will miss a lot of people, Wanaka really has become a second home to me now.
This winter has been truly epic. The most snow NZ has seen for a long time and especially compared to last year made sure that everyone was frothing from the very start. I got some amazing riding in, some all time powder days and not to mention the chance to go Heli Boarding with a great crew……i really couldn’t have asked for more. oh, i also threw myself out of a plane at 15000 feet, it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life....no doubt about it!
Coming back home to the Isle of Wight for a few weeks allows me to catch up with family (the newest addition to the family,my nephew Miles deserves a special mention) and to unwind before heading into another hectic winter.
The IOW is always a great place to come back to, its quiet, relaxed and has a friendly atmosphere…..even if it is a little frustrating.....flying halfway across the world is sometimes easier to organise then getting from London to the IOW!
So heres looking forward to the coming European season, which is shaping up to be a good one. Ive got some exciting trips planned and will be exploring the incredible terrain in the Tarentaise Valley with my split board.....plus eat my body weight in cheese and wine.
This is a short post, but i’l leave you with my edit from winter…..Enjoy!
So a life long dream for me happened on Tuesday, i had the opportunity to go Heli-Boarding courtesy of my employers, Racers Edge Wanaka and our local guide company Harris Mountain Heli-ski.
The day started out as a rollercoaster of emotions. First we got the call saying we are going to go then as we were leaving the house we had another call saying it was now canceled due to cloud….then an hour later it was on again and it was all systems go to get ready.
We drove along the spectacular road out towards Treble Cone(for the last time this winter) and onto Cattle Flats where Harris Mountain Heli-ski fly from. We met our guides Hugh and Rodger who gave us our safety briefing and explained we would be flying to the Buchanan Range as it had been clear of cloud all morning so the snow would have had time to release.
We were put into 4 groups of 6 people and told to wait for our time to fly, my group was number 3.
The excitement of seeing the chopper fly in towards you while you are on the ground is so exhilarating we have to hold onto the skis and bags as the power of the downdraft from the blades is so strong that anything not held down will be lost. I actually felt like i was in a snowboard movie..
The transition time is so quick that before you know it the pilot has left the ground and is banking around an almost impossibly tight turn.
The feeling is hard to describe, it almost feels weightless as we sped of down the valley floor and towards the mountains.
I didnt think New Zealand could get any more breathtaking but when you are winding your way through valleys and mountains in a helicopter, landing on a peak and seeing the clouds enveloping Mount Aspiring in the distance things definitely step up a level.
Its a hard life huh?!
We managed to get 4 runs in due to leaving late but they were awesome runs, i already loved the terrain here in New Zealand but now I've had a taster that shows it has terrain to match anywhere in the world.
When we flew to the second drop off we passed up and over a ridge line that dramatically dropped way and revealed the Southern Alps in all its glory, it was like something out of Jurassic Park! The pilot then set us down on a ridge that was no more then 4 feet wide with a sheer drop on one side……….My adrenaline was through the roof. I always new that to be a helicopter pilot you had to be skilled, but now i understand how important that skill is, this guy seemed like the ‘Iceman’ of the heli world!
The snow was good NZ spring corn. Its like a dry slush but it feels like your in powder. The last two runs were steep and felt like they went on forever and with the terrain being so playful you could just open up and haul ass. There really is no better feeling then being on snow, in the middle of the mountains with all your friends……..it truly was epic.
I love my split boarding, but to be choppered into the middle of terrain like that was just ridiculous. Heli Skiing gives you access to places you could only dream of.
Im hooked! Sign me up, I want to go again.
Id like to say thanks to the guys at Harris Mountain Heli-Ski, They are a perfect mix of professionalism and fun, making you feel safe so that you can fully appreciate their world. They are all friendly and keen for a chat.
Also to Racers Edge for organising the trip, they really know how to look after their staff and reward them for a busy winter season. They understand the reason why we all work in this industry and its great to have employers who are on the same page.
The day ended perfectly with BBQ and beers at the lake, i couldn’t ask for anymore.