Last weekend, I went on a ski trip to Wanaka, which I had the opportunity to ski on a beautiful mountain for two full days. Wanaka is about four hours north-west of Dunedin. It’s safe to say that trip is one of the highlights of my study abroad experience so far. Thinking back on it, that weekend was a trip of many “firsts”. It was my first time skiing since my Freshman year of high school, but I was excited to get back on a mountain and try out the whole snow sport thing again. It was my first time staying at a hostel, which was a really nice hostel. The whole idea of hostels is fascinating to me. It’s pretty much a community house that brings random people together who have similar interests and you live with them for a few days. There was a map of the world in the lobby with push pins indicating which part of the world people who stayed there have come from. Running a hostel must be one of the coolest jobs to have because of all the people you meet, each with their own story. I think I’ll add it to my list of possible retirement jobs (the other one being an airline steward).
If you’ve ever had Evian Water, you know the image on the bottle of the huge snow capped mountains. Driving to the mountain Saturday and Sunday was like driving by Evian label after Evian label. I’ve never seen more beautiful mountains in my life. Each one looked like it touched the sky and boasted incredible amounts of snow. The mountain we skied on was no different. I felt like I was skiing in the clouds. You don’t get mountains like that back in CT, not even close. It had just snowed that week and the powder was incredibly smooth and soft, which was helpful in cushioning the fair amount of wipe-outs I took. Something to note about this mountain is that there are no trees on it. This allows for an open mountain with no really “defined” trails. You can pretty much ski wherever you want, which is cool most of the time, but not fun when my first run of the day consisted of me going off a rock and landing face first in the snow. It was actually pretty fun since the snow was so soft, I really didn’t mind falling.
The rest of the skiing was incredible. I skied down by first black diamond which was definitely a challenge, but something I felt pretty good about completing (honestly I didn’t stay on my skis the whole way down, but I made it down the mountain one way or another!) I swear, I did do some skiing (not just falling) while I was there. Like I said, you don’t get great snow and beautiful mountains like this back home. You pretty much get a hill with ice on it (yeah I’m looking at you Mohawk). I also met some great people on the trip. It was a small group, only 8 including the two coordinators, but everyone made the weekend even more fun. Nothing bonds a group of strangers like a four hour car ride, KFC dinners (also a first, sorry mom), and playing cards at the hostel until 12 am. Great people, great skiing, and great scenery; you really can’t go wrong. I’m stoked to get back on a pair of skis (and stay on) very soon!