Snowboarding Queenstown

Craig's picture
Craig started the topic in Monday, 20 Aug 2012 at 8:24pm

Believe it or not but I only saw snow for the first time last week.

This can be put down to the lack of rain let alone snow while growing up in Adelaide and also never really travelling to anywhere but surfing destinations.

Me and my mates planned a trip to New Zealand, namely Queenstown to go snowboarding/skiing for a week at the start of August.

I had my preconceptions on how my surfing would transfer over to snowboarding and after getting the basics regarding weight transition down I was pretty competent at taking steeper runs just linking heelside and toeside turns (I just had to mentally tell myself to lean onto that front foot each time I wanted to change edges).

No matter how much you hear or see regarding how amazing the New Zealand landscape is, no words or even these photos come close to conveying the real experience. You just have to go and see it for yourself, it's mesmerising and spell-bounding!

The highlight of the trip was the 4th day boarding, hitting up Treble Cone after 10cm of fresh snow under blue bird skies, looking down into the valley and lakes around Wanaka, seemingly flying above the earth.

We walked the summit and scored some fresh deep powder but the highlight and also the moment where it most felt like my surfing was crossing over to the boarding was when heading down this valley/shoot that took the form of a half-pipe, linking turn after turn after turn on the wide banking walls. This capped off the trip for me and I can't wait to hit up the snow again!

Are there many others that couple their surfing skills with snowboarding and what areas to you feel cross over the most between the two?

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mundies's picture
mundies's picture
mundies commented Monday, 20 Aug 2012 at 10:57pm

Great conditions Craig - snow down to the carpark and beyond is good! I proposed to my wife on the TC summit, lotsa fun times and good memories of that part of the world.
Re the surfer-boarder cross over thing - lots of similarities of course but you can always tell a snowboarding surfer who hasnt boarded much. Lots of arm swinging and counter rotation of the upper body in turns ie doing a heel turn and pointing front shoulder over the toe edge at the same time and visa versa for toe turns. There's a bit of unlearning that needs to happen to iron out the surfing technique flaws from riding snow, keeping in mind in surfing often we use our bodies in turns to help generate speed, on the snow usually turns are braking. But the feeling of a massive hack off the top of a snow ridge or natural halfpipe definitely compares well to surfing.

mundies

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Tuesday, 21 Aug 2012 at 1:37am

Nice pics Craig. Surfed NZ but never boarded there but my bro has many times, loves it. Trying to get the wombat to come over here to Japan. Worst kept secret in the skiing world. AWESOME powder and cheap as chips. $40 a lift ticket, lunch $10 and if you stay just off the hill, you could get bed, breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a lift ticket for about the same price as a day ticket only at Perisher (if you know where to look).

I will never pay to board in Oz again.

Mundies is pretty much on to it. The only thing I can add is try to think of your front leg as a mast on a ship and your back leg as the rudder. Then when you get into powder, it's all weight on the back foot, where it becomes reminiscent of surfing.

Man, I am so amped for this winter. Your pics look a lot like Japan except the snow goes all the way to the bottom here.

(and if you board mid week here, out of holidays, it almost becomes lonely- no lines, empty runs, it's kind of scary sometimes.)

Just for interest sakes, how much is a lift ticket in NZ?

PS Stay away from Niseko or Hakuba unless you want to be with hundreds of Yobbos- look further afield.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Tuesday, 21 Aug 2012 at 6:03am

zenagain, it pains me to hear the incredible stories of Japan's powder - I went there for my honeymoon in 2010 (Nozawa Onsen) but had no fresh snow at all for the entire trip. Our trip (late Feb, early Mar) followed the previous months where they'd had weeks and weeks of 40/60/80cm per night dumps (so the settled base was above 3m when we arrived - just all hard packed!).

I can only imagine what it's like when it's on. I will be back for sure - Japan is such an incredible country.

I've had mixed experienced in Canada too. Lived in Whistler for 2 months during one of the better seasons on record (at the time), then teed up a work visa a few years later and lived in Fernie - only to score the worst season in over fifty years (base didn't get much above 1m for three months).

Bloody hell though, snowboarding is fun. If I had scored successive years of excellent snow there's a fair chance I may well have given up surfing to follow the winters around the globe.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Tuesday, 21 Aug 2012 at 6:19am

And I concur with your thoughts on Queenstown Craig. Went there a couple of times when we were filming the second Storm Surfers documentary. It's one of the most incredible parts of the world I have ever visited - if only there were surf nearby. Didn't board any of the ski hills but managed to score a day of backcountry with snowmobiles, which we accessed by helicopter (was filmed for the docco but the footage didn't make the cut). Awesome!

Craig's picture
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Craig commented Tuesday, 21 Aug 2012 at 7:28am

Mundies, I think that's exactly the trouble I got into a few times.

The real problem I had was with the cat tracks, mainly due to the lack of width and drop off on one side.

I'd be cruising along trying to link small turns but then gain too much speed, approach the edge of the track, forget all my technique while trying to jump on the other edge, hence throwing off my weight distribution, catching an edge and hitting the snow hard, haha!

Also on those steeper tracked out runs I had trouble a few times getting onto my edge once pointed down hill and gaining speed rapidly as I'd start freaking out, lose technique and then just try putting all the weight on my back foot like when surfing, resulting in a tumble down the hill.

It is hard to change your train of thought but I found that mentally telling myself on every turn to lean forward, helped significantly.

Zen, Japan's on our list for next time and with the cost being as low as you're hinting at we may be there as soon as next March!

The thing is with Japan though as Ben also mentioned is that you receive huge dumps in terms of metres, while over in NZ it's only 10's of centimetres.

I hear in Japan though that there aren't many clear sunny days? Is this correct?

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Tuesday, 21 Aug 2012 at 10:49am

It's true Craig, you don't get that many clear days, but don't really matter too much because grey skies usually mean it's snowing.

Like everywhere, it can be hit and miss. Had a pretty so-so season a couple of years ago, but this 2011/2012 was awesome. I board weekly in winter in Fukushima and we were getting knee deep powder on the groomers and through the trees it was another world, sometimes too deep. This was weekly from mid-December through to the end of March.

The best time by far is end of Jan/early Feb. It starts to warm up in March and that's when you get the sunny days.

Ben, I was introduced to boarding in Canada, stayed for a month at Big White and then another 2 weeks doing Whistler/Blackcomb. NZ was always on my wish list. Only once got a decent couple of days in oz at Guthega. A couple of hoax trips after that and I gave up snowboarding in Australia for good.

My first love is surfing but snowboarding is a close second. Here, I snowboard Sunday and surf Monday, gotta admit I have it pretty good.

The Japanese do it different here and I like their way. Aussies love to charge all day, sink piss all night and do it all again the next day and that's cool if you're 21. But. if you're a bit older or have kids that's why I advised to stay away from Niseko and Hakuba. The Japanese still go pretty hard but at the end of the day they like to soak in a Rotenburo (outside hot-spring bath) have a nice dinner, couple of beers and go to bed early. The Aussies I know that come here were a bit hesitant about group bathing in an onsen, but every single one is a convert now.

I could dribble on all day, I can't wait till winter. But if you want the real Japan, check out Yamagata, Niigata, Iwate, Central Hokkaido. Awesome powder, cheap tickets, brillant inexpensive food, accommodation at least 50% of what you would pay back home, nice people, no theft, soothing hot spring baths, fantastic cheap beer (sold anywhere from convenience stores to vending machines) etc etc etc.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

thermalben's picture
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thermalben commented Tuesday, 21 Aug 2012 at 11:02am

You've got me amped for another trip zenagain. But I can't handle the onsens! Waaaay too hot for me.

wellymon's picture
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wellymon commented Monday, 10 Jun 2013 at 7:28pm

Yeah Craig was just reading your old post, travelling to NZ to play in the white fluffy stuff for the first time in your life, what a different realm to surfing for yourself but so similar. The photos recapped an awesome journey for something I love with passion.
The first thing I say to fellow surfers going snowboarding for their first time, is get a professional lesson straight off the bat. It stops you from getting bad habits that you will never iron out if you hadn't been taught straight away.

I'm stoked you had an awesome time at Treble Cone (TC) as it was home for me, doing 10 seasons and well over 1000+ documented days riding that hill,one of the most memorable journeys in my life. TC is the best commercial ski field in NZ due to its unique terrain,vertical in meters and diverse snow conditions all winter which teaches you to ride fall line off piste, strong and fast. The "Gun Barrel" and the "Saddle Pipes, were by far the thing that was like surfing too me, with 20-30 ft bowling walls that set you up for awesome wave feeling carves. My best mate I rode with at TC, who now surfs 20+ft tow ins around btm of the South Island said that riding TC in the pipes was the best training for tow ins and was so similar, the speed,the transitions, the bumps and big carving turns.

My passion for riding un tracked fresh runs took me into the amazing realm of back country big Mtn riding, which is like getting 4-6ft perfect offshore barrelling long waves with you and a couple of mates.
The Mtns and waves are one of natures finest and purest forms, which have to be respected in the utmost fashion. Always going with your deepest gut feeling and sticking with it will hopefully keep you out of harms way.
Speaking from experience Ive been caught in big avalanches and buried alive for an hour before digging myself out. Which is why I tell people to do an avalanche course before entering the unknown. Snow is such a un-exact science and even the best avalanche gurus in the world have died in them, at least you have a little understanding than none at all.

Craig you brought back a great memory with one of your photos ( the sixth one down ).
This is taken from the summit of TC looking into Black Peak. Me and a couple of mates caught a helicopter onto the ridge directly above the capital "B" in your last name. We built a great spacious snow cave and rode lines from the summit thru the rocks and down thru the spines onto the flat sunny plateau where your name is. 3 days later we walked back to TC, thinking it would be a 5hr hike, 14 hrs later on dark we made it to TC carpark absolutely fu--ed.
Those are the types of memories you never forget, great times good journey.

So in your post Craig, your last question "what areas to you feel cross over the most between the two?"
I reckon the big walls in natural pipe terrain, powder for sure cause its more back foot orientated and the whole realm of being with two similar forms of nature, letting gravity and motion propel us board riders around with out a motor!! Snow is water and water is snow.

Pow Pow .

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

zenagain's picture
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zenagain commented Monday, 10 Jun 2013 at 9:17pm

Wellymon, Yewwww!

Yeah brother!

Another season gone with great memories, only 6 months to December:)

Gotta do NZ one day.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

Craig's picture
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Craig commented Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013 at 7:48am

Wellymon, that was a great post, thanks for taking the time!

Yeah I got the professional lesson straight up, not the total beginner one but a lesson that went into turns and transitioning, getting tighter and faster etc. This helped enormously and without it I would of been bruised to buggery.

That took half a day and then I just repeated the Green runs at Remarks getting confident on each edge.

That TC day was something special as I explained in the post above, but as you said, those big shoots/valleys were so much like surfing and has got me hooked.

That story about taking 14hrs to get back to TC is hectic! The terrain is so bloody steep and dangerous, very very lucky.

I can't wait to hit the snow again and even get between some trees down here in Thredbo or surrounds.

wellymon's picture
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wellymon commented Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013 at 3:10pm

Nice one Craig,

Do some big turns for me on the snow,similar to Joel's and Jordy 's turns today at Thundercloud. Wow.!!

Lucky I was at home, not hearing much with a hole in the ear, drinking and just watching an amazing day of surfing in Fiji.

Love every day I wake.

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

inzider's picture
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inzider commented Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013 at 8:11pm

Yes Wellymon the Gun Barrel is epic it was named after me. Third pipe in the saddle was named after an old cowboy with a weed problem. None the less guaranteed to give you leg burn like never before, organ pipes is where the real shit is if you feel like cheatin death. few blokes have actually perished out there. Key to learning for all those that care to take it from a legend of the south, if its hard packed the turn is initiated from the front foot,lean forward pretend there is a basket ball between your knees, make sure you have centred stance with a board wide enuf for your hooves, eqaul toe heel over hang, set your stance angles like your dropping into a six foot beast, if it is powder lean back and think gerry lopez at pipe, if its icy go to the pub

wellymon's picture
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wellymon commented Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013 at 8:57pm

Legend Inzider you are of the organ pipes.

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

inzider's picture
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inzider commented Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013 at 9:18pm

organ pipes , blowing my own trumpet, 1 man brass band is me. Had a mate once (only once) who got pitched from the lip of a five footer onto his ear, busted left drum, week later back flip attempt off Oakura bridge (about 10 -15 meters) kooked it and popped the right one,
Id almost give my left tate to be on the summit of T>C again one day(kids and mrtgage have fked me)

wellymon's picture
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wellymon commented Tuesday, 11 Jun 2013 at 9:56pm

Your kids must be cool tho and I bet you have a nice home too.

Feel sorry for your mate with 2 burst ear drums tho, not nice.

TC is only over the ditch

I would rather be on top of the Microwave at Red Mtn BC, thats interesting.

Life and Slay

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .