Sunday, September 25, 2011

Oh! A kune...

WARNING: massive post - you might want to take a couple of goes at it.

[click on the pics if you like]

Many Wellingtonians seem to be happy to see the back of the snow we had a few weeks ago, but not us.

I have a season pass, so I've already been up a few times this year. The first time I went, I took Ella and Betty with me. Ella went from strength to strength, her lesson teaching her how to turn better, as well as ride the (platters? pommers? Whatever those beginner disc things are called).

Betty was another story, though - she had a beginner lesson, where she was probably the youngest and smallest, and didn't enjoy it at all, despite being able to do all the technical stuff she was taught. She's never that keen on things she can't already do, so needed a bit of time to come to grips with it by herself - I certainly didn't want to put her off by forcing her into it.

So, we booked a few days off for all of us to go to Ohakune, and hopefully get some skiing in.

I searched around for a while to find a place to stay, and decided to go with novelty - an old railway carriage at Rimu Park. Bethan was a bit puzzled about where we'd sleep - I think she was picturing something like the inside of the J'ville trains we go into the city on, with all the seats and everything.

Here's what it looked like:

Yes, we took the Horrolla - partly because it's 4WD, but mainly because it has a working stereo at the moment.

I should backtrack a bit and describe the trip up to Ohakune first, even thought there aren't any photos for some reason. We knew the weather on the mountain was likely to be pretty shit, so we didn't rush too much. Although, with the "Are We There Yet?", "This Is Taking Ages," "I'm BOOOOORED" girls in the back, there was never much chance of doing it all in one go.

We stopped at the Levin Adventure Park:

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This is a free playground, although calling it that is a bit like calling the Taj Mahal a bach. It is MASSIVE. Dozens of things to play on, including not one, but two of those big barrell-roll things that you get inside and run around like a hamster and make yourself feel sick on (based on a true story), and a loooong flying fox.

As if all this wasn't enough, there's also a miniature train on the weekends, and an indoor picnic area with a microwave and boiling water, and a coffee truck with nice coffee, and, and...

This may not be a widely-held opinion, but this playground, plus a roast shop and a noodle shop next door to each other make Levin a great place.

Our other long stop was just up the road at Foxton. Ever since I first moved down to Wellington, I've wanted to check out the de Molen Windmill. Follow the link to read about it, it's amazing, a working windmill that actually produces flour.

Back to our carriage in Ohakune - the inside looked like this:

Through the door at the far end is a room with two bunks, a toilet and bathroom, and beyond that, a bedroom. It was great - not so flash that we worried about destroying it either.

Friday was again too crappy to go skiing, so we drove to the Tokaanu Thermal Pools for a hot swim instead, which was, as always, awesome.

Saturday also looked a bit useless up the mountain, but we thought, "bugger it," and went up there anyway. Glad we did.

Rach and Betty headed into Alpine Meadow (the learner's bit), while Ella and I headed up the Parklane chairlift for her lesson. It was her first time on a chairlift on skis, but was no problem.

Here's Betty getting her little skis - her face kinda sums up her attitude to skiing at this point:

As you can see, Ella's more relaxed about the whole thing:

Nobody else turned up for Ella's group lesson, so she got a personalised, individual one. I abandoned her with her French-Canadian instructor for an hour and went up the mountain, where I found some great snow in between bouts of bad visibility.

I returned to find Ella even more confident than before - so much so that she was able to ski with me all the way back down Clarry's Track to the bottom:

Betty had had enough of skiing by this point, so I went up for a bit more, while the three girls made a snowchair:


slid down a hill on their bums:


and Ella did a little bit more skiing in Alpine Meadow:

On the way back down the mountain, we had to stop to take care of Bethan's obssession about making a snow angel:


Ella had a go too:


A quick beautiful scenic shot:

...and then briefly back to our train, then out to OCR Cafe for dinner, which was cheap and delicious. Highly recommended.

Sunday was our last day, and we were determined to go skiing again, so it was straight up the mountain after checking out of our train.

This time, Rach got some skis, so she and Ella went up a bit higher, while Betty and I hung out in Alpine Meadow. At first, she was pretty tentative, but then something just seemed to click, and she was suddenly a whole lot more confident. Still wanted me to stick around, particularly to help her on the Magic Carpet (a conveyor belt for humans, here Ella demonstrates:

I even took Betty up on the Parklane lift (which she managed to get on and off while wearing skis) to do a run down Clarry's Track, which might have been a bit ambitious, as we had to stop halfway down for quite a long rest:

This time, Rach had had enough of skiing, so Ella and I went back up to go to her last lesson, with the same teacher as the previous day. Again, I abandoned her for the hour, getting in some of the best runs of the year, and then we made our way down to Betty and Rach.

Betty was now completely self-sufficient, and in her usual style, unstoppable. Ella and I went up for another run down Clarry's Track; Betty was still skiing when we got back. I went right up the top for a few more runs; Betty was still skiing when I got back. She'd progressed to getting on and off the Magic Carpet by herself - "I don't NEED you, dad" - I stayed with her while it started to snow, and Ella went back and returned her skis.

The only reason Betty stopped in the end is that the lift itself closed for the day at 4pm.

I couldn't be more proud of my daughters, and pleased that they both seem to love skiing at least as much as I do. Just got to get Rach a bit more time up there and we'll be set.

Here's a video of first Betty (in the pink jacket), then Ella (then a loud unknown snowboarder) skiing past the camera:

(available right up to 720p resolution).

Check out the amount of snow that ended up on the Horrolla - I don't know the measurement, but it wasn't enough to stop Betty, that's for sure:

The girls wrote what they thought of the mountain:

...and then we drove home, pausing only at OCR again for some coffee, and then Levin once more for KFC (15% off for season pass holders!)