Here in New Zealand it is slightly freezing and they call it the middle of winter. The tramping club took those who signed up on a very cool ‘social’ hike that included a steep climb up a muddy mountain to a stream and eventually a nice warm hut for those of us who were able to get there quickly enough (I had many friends who ended up in tents). It was freezing at night and the path of this social hike was not well marked. In the end it was an amazing experience but I had issues along the way including a boulder flying down toward me on a climb and locating my gift for the christmas exchange at the end of the night. During this hike we learned what kind of packs we need, the clothes we need to bring, and how to cook dinner for many people at night. These are very important skills for traveling on your own or backpacking in a group.
The next weekend I was able to go snowboarding at Mt. Ruapehu with the snowboarding club. They were helpful in booking a hostel and shuttle that brought us close to the mountain. From there we bought our own tickets and were able to take our own routes on the mountain. Snowboarding in NZ is extremely different than anywhere in the states. First of all there are no trees anywhere and you are skiing on an active volcano. Although there are many volcanic rock deposits and ‘death cookies’ or blocks of ice that are not marked and pose an extreme issue if you hit them. The snow is quite icy and the weather, like that in town, is quite bipolar.
Overall my experiences in the mountain were amazing and unforgettable! With a huge group based in the snowboarding club, they also made things exponentially cheaper! I recommend joining clubs you are interested in at any chance you get because these experiences and meeting the kiwis involved in them is really an eye-opening chance of a life time.