Adventure #238

Winter issue of Adventure Magazine

Winter issue of Adventure Magazine


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adventure<br />

where actions speak louder than words<br />

where actions speak louder than words<br />

ISSUE 238<br />

JUN/JUL 2023<br />

NZ $11.90 incl. GST<br />


The new<br />

Heli R<br />

jacket.<br />

Lighter. More packable.<br />

Same cosy warmth.<br />

Get to know me

Ruapehu - is it the end of an era<br />

There has been a lot of talk in the media<br />

about Ruapehu and skiing on its slopes this<br />

season, or any season, in fact. Many of us<br />

grew up skiing those windblown, icy slopes,<br />

yet, on reflection, we recount days of<br />

perfect uncrowded snow, of sunshine and<br />

fun. But this year, 2023, as we go to print,<br />

there is still a cloud of uncertainty hanging<br />

over the North Island winter ski season.<br />

Like looking up from the Desert Road to<br />

the mighty Maunga, a shroud of cloud is<br />

hanging over the very existence of what we<br />

know as Whakapapa and Turoa.<br />

Sure, there are groups of those willing<br />

to accept the challenge of running the<br />

ski fields; there are overseas investors,<br />

private buyers, community groups, and<br />

even government buyouts, but all that<br />

possibility seems to be only fed by rumours<br />

and speculation. But the simple truth is<br />

there is a lack of clarification, will there be<br />

a ski season in 2023 in the North Island, or<br />

will this be the year the mountain closes,<br />

possibly the more significant question will it<br />

ever re-open?<br />

What happens to a community that<br />

has a strong foundation in snow sport<br />

tourism; accommodation, stores, cafes,<br />

and restaurants? It would be like telling<br />

Whangamata you can no longer swim in<br />

the sea, or telling Kaikoura the whales<br />

are not to be watched. Sure, the Central<br />

Plateau has a huge amount to offer apart<br />

from skiing, but there is a lot built around<br />

the activity. Regardless of the issues that<br />

RAL (Ruapehu Alpine Lifts) faces, whether<br />

internal or external, there is no denying<br />

the impact of covid, tourism (or lack of<br />

it), climate change, DoC and Iwi, each of<br />

these factors weigh in on the possibility<br />

of its continuance of Ruapehu as a ski<br />

destination.<br />

Over the last three years of constant<br />

worldwide effects and what seems like<br />

constant change outside of our control, the<br />

concept of no more skiing on Ruapehu now<br />

seems a possibility, it’s not likely, but it is<br />

possible.<br />

We need to enjoy every moment of what<br />

we have when we have it. Do not waste a<br />

moment, for tomorrow it may be gone or at<br />

best, be in jeopardy.<br />

For those of us who complained about the<br />

difficult car parking at Ruapehu, or the price<br />

of pies, or the 20-minute queue times, oh<br />

how we now long for those snow beers in<br />

the sun, in the car park, after a good day<br />

skiing, looking up at those slopes in the<br />

afternoon light, knowing we can do it all<br />

again tomorrow. But maybe, just maybe,<br />

those days are gone.<br />

So, make the most out of this winter<br />

wherever you are, whatever your activity,<br />

enjoy every second, and when the wind is<br />

a little strong, or the temperature a little too<br />

cold, the queue a little longer or the car park<br />

a little full, remember how quickly things<br />

can change.<br />

Steve Dickinson - Editor<br />

Longing for those snow beers<br />

your <strong>Adventure</strong> starts with Us<br />

23 Locations Nationwide | www.radcarhire.co.nz | 0800 73 68 23 | adventure@radcarhire.co.nz


Elke Braun-Elwert is the Assistant Director at Alpine Recreation<br />

in Lake Tekapo. She explains the background to the photo on the<br />

cover of this issue of <strong>Adventure</strong>...<br />

"This photo was taken by my father, Gottlieb Braun-Elwert on<br />

a snowshoeing trip to Caroline Hut on the 15th August 2007<br />

(coincidentally this was almost exactly a year to the day before he<br />

passed away suddenly in 2008). Pictured are René Aukens and<br />

Graham Jackson (both former hiking guides of ours - Graham is<br />

the bearded one). They are snowshoeing along Ball Ridge in front<br />

of the Caroline Face of Aoraki Mount Cook.<br />

Getting to Caroline Hut in winter is a serious expedition and would<br />

probably best be described as “snowshoe mountaineering”. For<br />

beginner snowshoers or an easier option which doesn’t require<br />

the use of crampons or ice axe, we recommend 3-5 days of<br />

snowshoe hikes at our Rex Simpson Hut in the Two Thumb<br />

Range or our heli-assisted snowshoe hikes based from our<br />

Edelweiss Lodge in Lake Tekapo - these are both family-friendly<br />

options and can also be suitable for mixed groups where some<br />

members wish to ski.<br />

Gottlieb would’ve been so stoked to land a cover picture I’m sure."<br />


Steve Dickinson<br />

Mob: 027 577 5014<br />

steve@pacificmedia.co.nz<br />


Lynne Dickinson<br />

design@pacificmedia.co.nz<br />


subscribe at www.pacificmedia-shop.co.nz<br />


ARE, Ph (09) 979 3000<br />

Photographer,<br />

outdoor legend<br />

and adventurer,<br />

Gottlieb<br />

Braun-Elwer,<br />

took the cover<br />

shot a year<br />

before he passed<br />

away<br />


www.adventuremagazine.co.nz<br />

www.adventuretraveller.co.nz<br />

www.adventurejobs.co.nz<br />

www.skiandsnow.co.nz<br />

@adventurevanlifenz<br />


Pacific Media Ltd,<br />

11a Swann Beach Road<br />

Stanmore Bay, Whangaparaoa, New Zealand<br />

Ph: 0275775014 / Email: steve@pacificmedia.co.nz<br />

advertising rates, demographic and stats available on request<br />

Contributions of articles and photos are welcome and must be accompanied by a stamped self-addressed envelope. Photographic material should be on slide,<br />

although good quality prints may be considered. All care is taken but no responsibility accepted for submitted material. All work published may be used on<br />

our website. Material in this publication may not be reproduced without permission. While the publishers have taken all reasonable precautions and made all<br />

reasonable effort to ensure the accuracy of material in this publication, it is a condition of purchase of this magazine that the publisher does not assume any<br />

responsibility or liability for loss or damage which may result from any inaccuracy or omission in this publication, or from the use of information contained herein<br />

and the publishers make no warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to any of the material contained herein.<br />

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Earning your turns;<br />

about to ski off<br />

Mt Rolleston, Arthur’s<br />

Pass National Park,<br />

New Zealand.<br />

Photo by Tom Hoyle.<br />

For over thirty years Bivouac Outdoor has been proudly 100% New Zealand owned and committed to<br />

providing you with the best outdoor clothing and equipment available in the world. Gear to keep you dry,<br />

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HARI<br />

BUDHA<br />

MAGAR<br />



43-year-old Hari Budha Magar has stood<br />

victorious atop the world’s tallest mountain,<br />

He is now the first ever double above the knee<br />

amputee to scale Everest.<br />

Through his climb, Hari aims to change<br />

perceptions on disability and inspire people<br />

to climb their own ‘mountains’ no matter the<br />

adversity that stands in their way.<br />

Having grown up in the Nepalese mountains<br />

before serving 15 years as a Corporal with the<br />

Ghurkha Regiment of the British Army, scaling<br />

Everest was a boyhood dream for Hari.<br />

Devastatingly an IED in Afghanistan took both his<br />

legs in 2010 - an event he thought would shatter<br />

his lifelong dream.<br />

Thirteen years later, having overturned a law<br />

banning disabled climbers from the mountain,<br />

Hari has achieved what many thought impossible,<br />

proving disability is no barrier to reaching the 8,849<br />

metre peak.<br />

Hari summitted at around 3pm on May 19th.<br />

Hari’s climb was made possible by a world class<br />

team of Nepalese climbers, led by Expedition<br />

Leader Krish Thapa, of HST <strong>Adventure</strong>s, who<br />

served at the SAS’s Mountain Troop Leader during<br />

a 24-year British Forces career that started like<br />

Hari as a Gurkha before 18 years in the SAS.<br />

At the top, Hari shouted “We did it!”, a reference<br />

to, and in recognition of, the team effort that it<br />

possible.<br />

Over a satellite phone call, made possible by<br />

NSSL Global, to his team, he added; “That was<br />

tough. Harder than I could have ever imagined. We<br />

just had to carry on and push for the top, no matter<br />

how much it hurt or how long it took.<br />

“If I can climb to the top of the world then anyone,<br />

regardless of their disability, can achieve their<br />

dream.<br />

“When things got really tough it was the thought<br />

of my amazing family and everyone who's helped<br />

me get onto the mountain that pushed me to the<br />

top. Without the support of so many this expedition<br />

simply wouldn't have been possible.”

Hari on the summit of Everest - Image by Shantanepali Productions Jeet Bahadur Tamang 2<br />

"When things got really tough<br />

it was the thought of my<br />

amazing family and everyone<br />

who's helped me get onto the<br />

mountain that pushed me to<br />

the top."<br />

With half of the team back at Basecamp, and others climbing<br />

down from camp two – the climb team will be resting before<br />

Hari departs back for the UK.<br />

Hari and his climb team summitted Everest 70 years after<br />

Edmund Hillary and sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first<br />

people to stand atop the world's highest peak in May 1953.<br />

“I first planned this expedition back in 2018, but it feels a little<br />

more special to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Everest's<br />

first summit, with another world first,” says Hari.<br />

“My big goals where simply to change perceptions on<br />

disability and to inspire other people to climb their own<br />

mountains. No matter how big your dreams, no matter how<br />

challenging your disability, with the right mindset anything is<br />

possible.”<br />

Hari is urging supporters from around the world to dig deep<br />

as he raises money for five veteran charities including Team<br />

Forces, the Gurkha Welfare Trust, Pilgrim Bandits, Blesma,<br />

and On Course Foundation, with the aim of raising over<br />

£884,900, the height of Everest plus two zeros.<br />

To support Hari’s Everest appeal, visit<br />

www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/harieverestappeal<br />

To make this climb happen, Hari has been supported by<br />

over 30 organisations including Team Forces, Barratt<br />

Developments, Branding Science Group, Ottobock,<br />

Therabody, the Oriental Club and over 600 individuals.<br />

Support for which he is immensely grateful and without<br />

which the attempt would not have happened, and the chance<br />

to inspire others and change perceptions.<br />

Just as we were going to print we received this update<br />

from Hari himself...<br />

“It took 25 hours climbing from camp 4 to the summit and then<br />

back to camp 4. We started 21:50 and arrived back 23:00 next<br />

day.<br />

“The journey wasn’t easy, we had to make some tough<br />

decisions along the way, but we made it.<br />

“The climb didn’t go entirely to plan because of weather<br />

conditions. We were supposed to put Camp 5 at Balcony, but<br />

we didn’t because the weather made it too dangerous.<br />

“The first summit push climb from Camp 4 was horrible. It was<br />

so bad that when we returned from the Balcony, one team<br />

member suggested that we finish, and go down.<br />

“As we went back up to the summit, we had to go so slow and<br />

hunker down at times and wait for weather to improve. This<br />

meant oxygen supplies ran low and some people had to turn<br />

back for their and teams’ overall safety.<br />

“I also wanted to give up at least 3 times when half of team<br />

had gone. The Sherpas, which included my brother, reassured<br />

me we could make it and the oxygen will last but even they<br />

could not predict how long conditions would delay and supplies<br />

would run low.<br />

“As a team we pushed hard and five us made it to the summit.<br />

My brother, Nanda Bahadur Budha Magar, Mingma Sharpa,<br />

Pasang Sherpa, Jit Bahadur Tamang and I did it!<br />

“We reached the top of the world!<br />

“But then we had to get back down with little oxygen, very late<br />

in the day for an Everest summit with an ice storm coming in.<br />

“Two Sherpa’s were nearly finished their oxygen at Hillary Step<br />

on way down, so they left the me and last other team members<br />

to rightly preserve their lives. My oxygen was about to finish on<br />

South Summit, I was never scared my life like that before even<br />

when I was injured and crashed my car.<br />

“Once my oxygen finished, one Sherpa gave me his oxygen<br />

and went back down. Now, I and my brother left with very little<br />

oxygen enough for 30-45 minutes but we had to go long way<br />

down. I felt like here is some oxygen take it and die when it<br />

finishes. We looked for some of the oxygen bottles left on<br />

mountain, but they were all empty.<br />

“I told my brother who was with me to go, I just went down<br />

on my bum down all the way to wall of Camp 4. We had no<br />

radios, but we had satphone, so able to call base camp and<br />

relay messages to camp 4. Finally, a sherpa from camp 4<br />

came up with oxygen and hot water and met us below the<br />

balcony and saved us! Later two other Sherpas come for<br />

assistance and took us to Camp 4.<br />

“The immediate danger then passed. Over the coming two<br />

days the team and I went down to camp 3, then 2 and back to<br />

base camp.<br />

“The team and I are now back at base camp with some having<br />

moved off the mountain to receive treatment from injuries on<br />

the mountain, like my brother who got hit by rocks.<br />

“This experience has really hit home for me that if we are<br />

passionate, disciplined, work hard and believe in ourselves,<br />

nothing can stop us from achieving our dream. We proved that<br />

- nothing is Impossible.”<br />



Kiwis in Canada accompanied by a local - Never ending Rockies - Born to Run, our favourite!<br />

Right: Big White's world-renowned snow ghosts - Image by Janine Fisher<br />



What’s better than a road trip? A road<br />

trip to go skiing. And what’s better than<br />

a road trip to go skiing? A road trip with<br />

around 12 inches of fresh snow!<br />

As we flew across the Rockies from<br />

Vancouver, the expansive mountain<br />

range covered in snow was breathtaking,<br />

it simply just goes on and on in every<br />

direction and is as wide as it is deep. We<br />

have great mountains in New Zealand<br />

but nothing on this type of immense<br />

scale.<br />

We flew to Canada with Fiji Airways,<br />

and after a quick stop off in the tropics,<br />

we landed in Vancouver. A short internal<br />

flight took us to Kelowna, where the fun<br />

and the runs began. We had planned<br />

to pick up a car from Kelowna drive<br />

to Calgary, stopping off at Big White,<br />

Silverstar, Revelstoke and Panorama ski<br />

resorts along the way.<br />


Big White Ski Resort is aptly named<br />

and we couldn’t have asked for a better<br />

reintroduction to skiing in Canada. It<br />

is a picturesque place (as are all the<br />

Canadian Ski fields) and it was just<br />

made all the more perfect by the snow<br />

falling steadily as we arrived early in the<br />

evening.<br />

The following day, due to an arctic blast<br />

blowing through central BC, we were<br />

greeted with a very cold -18 degrees.<br />

The upside of the arctic blast was a<br />

dumping of fresh snow and clear blue<br />

skies. Big White and the resort area<br />

covers a huge 7,355 acres. It is big, so<br />

with only two days to spare we did our<br />

best effort to cover as much as we could.<br />

Snow hosts were available to give you<br />

complimentary Mountain tours, but we<br />

were lucky enough to have our nephew<br />

working there so he took a couple of<br />

days off to show us around.<br />

With such a large terrain, the scenery<br />

and snow conditions changed depending<br />

on where we were skiing, from wide<br />

open runs to tree clad glades and high<br />

alpine slopes covered in alien-like mini<br />

snow ghosts. We originally thought that<br />

the trees had been stunted due to the<br />

high altitude but later discovered it was<br />

just the tops sticking out from under the<br />

huge depths of snow.<br />

Despite the fact that it was the weekend<br />

and the sun was shining we felt like<br />

we had the mountain to ourselves. Big<br />

White, as the name suggests, is a big<br />

mountain and has a lot to offer, not just<br />

for the hardcore skier or snowboarder<br />

but for families and beginners. The<br />

mountain seems like a maze of runs and<br />

connecting paths but they have been<br />

cleverly devised so that the beginner can<br />

take a green run, intermediate a blue and<br />

the more extreme a black and in most<br />

cases all meet up back at the same spot.<br />

Big White Ski Resort prides itself on<br />

being a family friendly village, but that<br />

doesn’t mean that’s their only focus.<br />

The restaurants and bars were alive<br />

with people of all ages and stages of life<br />

who regularly return to Big White year<br />

after year. There were plenty of activities<br />

outside of skiing; tubing, dogsledding<br />

etc, but with only a few days to spare<br />

we spent the weekend exploring the<br />

expanse of the mountain.<br />



Just a few hours driving, our next stop was SilverStar Mountain Resort.<br />

Walking through SilverStar village feels like you are on the set of an old<br />

western movie. Modelled from the time when the mountain was home to<br />

the old silver mines, they have managed to keep the mountain feeling<br />

really authentic and the village is charming.<br />

The first morning we headed out with one of the mountain hosts, Roy,<br />

something I would thoroughly recommend anyone to do who is new to<br />

the mountain. The hosts meet each morning at the village centre and<br />

take people out to explore the mountain (all free of charge). It was a<br />

great way to reacquaint ourselves with what SilverStar had to offer and<br />

allowed us to get our bearings and learn more about where we were.<br />

The frontside of the mountain offers something for everyone, with all<br />

runs leading back eventually to the main village. However, what I’d<br />

remembered most about SilverStar was the backside, sometimes<br />

referred to as “the dark side” due to its deep powder and numerous<br />

black and double black runs. When we had visited SilverStar many<br />

years ago it had been opening day at Putman Creek (the backside) and<br />

we had waited at the arches that lead to that side with the excited crew<br />

of skiers and boarders all itching to get a taste of the untouched runs.<br />

So after a quick tour of the frontside of the mountain, Roy took us back<br />

to Putnam Creek. Snow had been gently falling most of the night and<br />

had dusted the mountain with a few centimeters of fresh snow. Nothing<br />

by Canadian standards, but enough to keep these two Kiwis’ happy.<br />

SilverStar's stunning village<br />

10//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/<strong>#238</strong><br />

By day two we were skiing in 6cm of fresh snow which meant we could<br />

pretty much ski anywhere. One of the things I loved about SilverStar<br />

were the woods and glades. With no trees on our mountains back<br />

home, they create a unique experience and once amongst the trees you<br />

feel like you are really exploring. If you are a tree lover, head to either<br />

Deer Park or Silver Woods Express Chair, you can pretty much take<br />

any line and you’ll find yourself at the bottom of a chair.

Steep terrain is a big part of Revelstokes<br />

reputation - images courtesy BC Tourism<br />

Picturesque in the evening snow<br />

So much to explore at Revelstoke<br />


Next on our journey was Revelstoke which offers a unique<br />

experience compared to the other fields we visited. Unlike many<br />

other destinations, Revelstoke Mountain Resort only offers one<br />

ski-in/ski-out option. Most of the accommodation can be found<br />

in town, which is only a short 8-minute drive away, so they are<br />

almost one and the same. This time we opted for a couple of<br />

nights in the town of Revelstoke. It had that old school vibe,<br />

somewhat reminiscent of Wanaka before it became a higher-end<br />

destination.<br />

The day we arrived the snow was falling, creating a picturesque<br />

bustling town full of restaurants, bars, shops, and all the<br />

essentials for day-to-day life. The overnight snow deposited 12cm<br />

of fresh powder on the slopes which created a buzz with locals<br />

and visitors alike. It was here we witnessed our first crowds, a rare<br />

occurrence, even in Revelstoke, but still nothing by NZ standards.<br />

When researching the fast facts, I thought I’d got them wrong as<br />

it was hard to believe their stats. Revelstoke is a big and steep<br />

mountain, boasting a vertical drop that is 1000m greater than<br />

almost all the other ski fields we visited. The gondola ride to the<br />

top was a bit intimidating (watch for the infamous Kill The Banker<br />

Run on your way up), but it provided a stunning view of the terrain<br />

and some of the most extreme skiing we’ve seen so far. But don’t<br />

let that deter you, there are plenty of slopes for intermediate<br />

skiers too.<br />

We met passionate locals who had a deep attachment and<br />

love for Revelstoke. It was heartwarming to see their sense of<br />

community and pride in their mountain.<br />

Overall, Revelstoke provided us with a unique experience that<br />

we thoroughly enjoyed, and we would recommend it to anyone<br />

looking for a ski resort with a small-town charm and a big<br />

mountain feel.<br />


Happy road-trippers<br />


Our next stop was Panorama Mountain Resort. The 3.5<br />

hour drive took us through Glacier National Park and<br />

Rogers Pass, the high mountain pass through the Selkirk<br />

Mountains, and along the valley between the Kootenay<br />

Mountain and the Purcell Mountain Ranges. The scenery<br />

along the way was simply stunning.<br />

Panorama did not disappoint. I think it really helps when<br />

you know a mountain well, you are able to ski with ease,<br />

knowing what’s around the next bend or behind the next<br />

tree. The first day we experienced some firmer conditions<br />

as we re-explored the mountain; the locals were eagerly<br />

awaiting some fresh snow, which fortunately for us arrived<br />

that night.<br />

Panorama offers quite a variety of trails from perfectly<br />

groomed, super wide runs with hardly anyone on them,<br />

through to the glades and bowls of Sun Bowl, to the double<br />

blacks of Taynton Bowl. We spent a lot of time in Sun Bowl<br />

but were fortunate enough to experience Taynton Bowl<br />

with a little help from the Monster X passenger snowcat.<br />

Although the double black terrain was outside of our<br />

skiable ability, we caught the Monster X cat up to the<br />

top of the “Monster” terrain. We lucked on a calm clear<br />

day where just being there was an experience in itself.<br />

Although feeling slightly fraudulent being out in double<br />

black terrain without the credentials to get ourselves safely<br />

out, we soaked up everything about the experience before<br />

skiing back in the tree line next to the cat track.<br />

Panorama is situated in the Purcell Mountains and really<br />

is embraced by them. Unlike some of the other resorts<br />

where you look out and see mountains in the distance,<br />

at Panorama you are the mountains, that’s all you can<br />

see. There’s a run from the very top called “View of 1000<br />

Peaks” and no lie, that’s what you can see on a clear day.<br />

Since we were last in Panorama a few things had<br />

changed; there had been major upgrades to the Alto<br />

Restaurant and a huge development of the Nordic Centre<br />

with the inclusion of fat bike hire and multi use Nordic trails<br />

so we decided to head into the trails on the fat bikes. I had<br />

always thought Kiwis’ were pretty active people but nothing<br />

seems to compare with the Canadians who chose to live<br />

in the mountains. When they are not downhill skiing, you’ll<br />

find them snow shoeing, cross country skiing or fat biking.<br />

We headed onto the Creek Trail on the advice of a local<br />

cross country skier, and biked alongside Toby Creek that<br />

runs through Panorama, another memorable experience.<br />


Our road trip ended in Calgary and<br />

the beauty of having a car meant we<br />

could explore along the way. Banff and<br />

Canmore were magical and on the road<br />

we found some unique bars, a wolf<br />

park, frozen vineyards, glaciers, out of<br />

the way restaurants and plenty of big<br />

horned sheep. The old adage could never<br />

ring truer, "a great trip is less about the<br />

destination and more about the journey."<br />


• Make sure your car comes with snow<br />

tyres, most rental cars do but it pays to ask<br />

in advance.<br />

• Book way in advance, you will find<br />

that it is about half the price plus you’re<br />

guaranteed a vehicle.<br />

• If taking your own skis, bear in mind how<br />

much room, you will need.<br />

• Insurance – some generic travel<br />

insurance you buy does cover car<br />

insurance as well pays to check – it can be<br />

a big saving.<br />

• You don’t need to hire a GPS you have<br />

your phone.<br />

• Before you leave take a video of all of the<br />

outside of the vehicle - just in case.<br />

• Buy a stuffed kiwi or an NZ flag from the<br />

2 dollar shop and leave it in the window of<br />

the car – you will make lots of new friends.<br />

• Drive slow – Canadians are used to<br />

driving in the snow, you are not – be<br />

prepared to hold up traffic.<br />

• Stop a lot, it is easy to pass by lookouts<br />

and places of interest that are amazing.<br />

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backcountrycuisine.co.nz<br />


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world-class ski fields on the day you arrive.<br />

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SilverStar snowshoe trails<br />



Words by Steve Dickinson - Images by Steve and other ducks<br />

Ya look like a duck…Not a cool duck<br />

floating on the water ducking its wee<br />

head to chew weeds. Nore a duck flying<br />

gracefully south for the winter. But a duck<br />

on dry land, where its feet are too big<br />

and it has to walk bow-legged and overexaggerated<br />

just to get around. That’s<br />

what I thought snowshoeing was like.<br />

Basically, a ‘snow duck’ walking, and about<br />

as cool as a duck on concrete.<br />

I was wrong.<br />

We met Kim and Lilly outside the activity<br />

office at Silver Star Resort, I knew<br />

straight away we were in trouble. Both<br />

women were so enthusiastic, like really<br />

enthusiastic, so animated and so keen,<br />

they laughed more than they smiled,<br />

and they smiled a lot. I was pretty much<br />

exhausted and needed a lay down by the<br />

end of the introductions.<br />

Snowshoes on, poles in hand, (thank<br />

goodness, poles are vital) we headed off<br />

to the edge of the track. Here we were<br />

shown the simple way to put your shoes<br />

on, what buckles go where, what straps<br />

need to be tight and what goes on what<br />

foot. Shoes on, we were given the walking<br />

demonstration, and I was right, it was<br />

basically a duck walk. ‘Don’t step on your<br />

own feet’, they advised; that was easier<br />

said than done; ‘lean forward going up<br />

slippery slopes,’ again easier said than<br />

done! And lastly and even more in jest<br />

‘let the crampons grab and when going<br />

downhill use your poles’. Sounds simple<br />

and it was... well, most of the time.<br />

As the only male in the group, the only<br />

thing that hurt more than my ego because<br />

of the constant falls, was my ears from<br />

the endless and relentless chatter, well<br />

more of a torrent of laughter and chat, a<br />

veritable cascading waterfall of words,<br />

not just amongst ourselves but nearly<br />

everyone we met on the track. There were<br />

introductions and handshakes and kisses<br />

goodbye, recipes shared and rendezvous<br />

organised. Add that to a wealth of<br />

information about the snow, the trees, the<br />

area, the track we were on, the footprints<br />

of the ‘snowshoe hare’ (which was very<br />

cool) it was no wonder we got a little<br />

distracted. Now don’t get me wrong, this<br />

avalanche of constant chatter was all part<br />

of the experience, it was a delight, it was<br />

as entertaining as it was distracting.<br />

We scooted along a path between snowcovered<br />

trees, that you would not have<br />

been able to walk through without the<br />

snowshoes on due to the depth of the<br />

snow. It felt like we were in the wilderness,<br />

but we were not far away from anywhere,<br />

occasionally we crossed what seemed like<br />

a road but were advised it was a crosscountry<br />

ski track and on occasion, we met<br />

someone scooting along with a smile.<br />

We eventually made it to Mountain View<br />

Cabin and took in the views across the<br />

valley to the ski fields in the distance.<br />

Hot chocolate was dug out from a small<br />

backpack, and Lily asked if we would<br />

like to try her brownie. A lightbulb went<br />

off, and now I considered the basis of all<br />

the enthusiasm, based on the brownie<br />

offer (bearing in mind the substance<br />

is not illegal in Canada). But no, these<br />

brownies were little more than black<br />

beans and chocolate, all mushed up, and<br />

marijuana free! Lily and Kim’s energy<br />

was based purely on their enthusiasm to<br />

be in the wild on the snow (and possibly<br />

a touch of ADHD). Their passion was so<br />

overwhelmingly contagious you could do<br />

nothing but have a great time.<br />

Brownie consumed, hot chocolate downed,<br />

we headed back. 3 hours had gone by in<br />

what seemed a moment, and there was<br />

a little less slipping and falling. However,<br />

confidence (pride) does come before a<br />

fall, and there were still plenty of those.<br />

We arrived back at Silver Star township<br />

as the sun was setting. In the twilight and<br />

softly falling snow, I reflected on the trip<br />

that I first considered would be somewhat<br />

boring, but was so much fun. And as with<br />

so many adventure activities, it is often<br />

less about what you do and more about<br />

those you are with.<br />

Maybe that’s why ducks fly in flocks south<br />

for that winter – it’s less about where you<br />

are going and more about who you are<br />

with.<br />


Left to right, top to bottom: Not laughing at you, but laughing with you / Never look back / Brownies and hot chocolate / Lots of<br />

things have changed but snow shoeing has been around for ever / Mountain View Cabin / Sliding down hill is half the fun / SilverStar<br />

Village<br />





Images and text supplied by Alpine Recreation<br />

High above Lake Tekapo in the Two Thumb Range, part of the Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park, lies a cosy<br />

mountain hut at 1300m, just above the snowline in the winter months July-September. Since 1985 this Alpine<br />

Recreation hut has proved to be an ideal and increasingly popular base for snowshoeing and backcountry skiing.<br />

Snowshoes allow keen hikers to easily access these Southern Alps foothills after a creamy coating of snow. 2-5 days<br />

are ideal to explore these winter wonderlands - from fascinating ice designs in mountain streams to pavlova-whipped<br />

curves on long ridges.<br />


Snowshoers near Ball Glacier, overlooking the upper Tasman Valley<br />

Snowshoers near Rex Simpson Hut in the Two Thumb Range<br />

Alpine Trekking guides give advice re best snowshoeing<br />

technique for varying slope angles. Without tree roots or<br />

rocks to negotiate like on a summer track you can look up<br />

and take in the scenery instead of looking to see where<br />

you're going to place your foot next. And that scenery is<br />

pretty impressive - the main spine of the Southern Alps,<br />

including Mounts Cook and Tasman and wide sweeps<br />

across the Mackenzie Basin and its turquoise glacier lakes.<br />

Go with a guide, who will lead you along ridges, up peaks<br />

for grand views and along babbling mountain streams.<br />

Each day the refreshment of the exercise is capped off with<br />

relaxation beside a warm fire in a cosy mountain hut, with<br />

meals cooked for you. No need to carry a sleeping bag and<br />

only a small amount of fresh food in your pack as far as the<br />

hut.<br />

Added bonus: crisp clean mountain air helps avoid cold<br />

bugs! And it's even more fun if you can grab a group of<br />

your friends and team up for a holiday with a difference,<br />

experiencing the magic of winter.<br />

Snowshoers on Ball Ridge in front of the Caroline Face of<br />

Aoraki Mount Cook<br />

Contact: www.alpinerecreation.com

Rich Turner traversing the ridge above Te Puoho cirque in the<br />

Central Darrans, northern Fiordland<br />




Words and photos by Derek Cheng<br />

It's obvious in hindsight, but bragging about a rope<br />

that'd never had to catch a fall was always going to<br />

doom it to be fallen on.<br />

The fall that was always going to happen took<br />

place on Statue Wall, a 300m-high cliff that<br />

connects Te Wera and Karetai in the Central<br />

Darrans, Fiordland, where the rope's services had<br />

been in use for several seasons.<br />

The day had started with a survey of the left side<br />

of the wall for a new line. Having chosen one,<br />

Wellington-based climber Richard Thomson<br />

climbed up a slabby, serpentine rib. Golden Baybased<br />

Richard Turner then led through a cruxy roof<br />

to a ledge system.<br />

I started pitch three up a gentle dihedral, which,<br />

given how gentle it was, was unsurprisingly strewn<br />

with debris. With my ropes and belayers well to my<br />

left, I started hurling loose rocks down the wall to<br />

my right.<br />

A few moves higher, though, and I came to<br />

something that demanded extra care: a death block<br />

the length of my arm and shaped like an elaborate<br />

lamp. I gathered its cumbersome heft in both hands<br />

and, shifting my weight from left to right, unleashed<br />

my turbo-throw.<br />

All of a sudden, to my horror and confusion, I was<br />

airborne. To my even greater horror, the bulky rock<br />

dropped between me and the ropes. I fell some<br />

15 metres, my left butt cheek colliding with a slab,<br />

before a certain rope took its first catch.<br />

The climbing gear that caught the fall—along with<br />

the rope—was a Black Diamond Camelot placed<br />

several metres below me in a crack. It was the<br />

latest addition to the gear stash at the bivvy cave<br />

known as Turner’s Eyrie. Thomson had showcased<br />

its shiny newness before taking it up to replace a<br />

brontosaurus-era cam that'd been lost the previous<br />

season. It’s obvious in hindsight, but this was<br />

always going to mean it was about to be fallen on.<br />

But this also meant it was a good way to fall—on a<br />

new piece of gear and a previously fall-free rope.<br />

I uncrumpled myself from the slab, scrambled<br />

to a stance, and proclaimed my excellence in<br />

preparedness. Having been hurt once or twice<br />

in remote places, I’d started carrying ibuprofen,<br />

paracetamol and tramadol in my chalk bag, which I<br />

now eagerly reached for.<br />

Rich Turner descending gingerly after completing a first ascent<br />

on the Statue Wall above Lake Turner, northern Fiordland.<br />



After topping out the Statue Wall, Rich Turner and Richard Thomson relax on the ridge amid the peaks above Te Puoho glacier.<br />

I climbed back up to where a scar on the rock betrayed<br />

what had happened: my right foothold had sheared off<br />

as I’d transferred my weight onto it. All the excitement<br />

had flashed by in a hurry. Only now did I understand<br />

how easily the death block could have sheared through<br />

my ropes, which would have seen me plummet all the<br />

way down. Instead all I had to contend with was a dull<br />

ache in my butt cheek, and a bruised ego.<br />

I continued up the corner to a spectacular overhang,<br />

which, thanks to some joyfully enormous holds, was<br />

easily overcome. Thomson then led the fourth pitch up<br />

a steep corner to a large slab, which was so luxuriously<br />

roomy that I promptly lay down for a tramadol-induced<br />

siesta.<br />

Turner took the ropes to the spectacular views at the<br />

top of the face: the Lake Turner basin to the west,<br />

bordered by the undulating ridgeline from Mt Patuki in<br />

the south to Mt Madeline to the north; the Te Puoho<br />

cirque to the east, with granite giant Mt Taiaroa<br />

dwarfing the glacial lake below, and, in the distance,<br />

the meandering Hollyford River.<br />

We took our time. It was still early afternoon and,<br />

though clouds were hovering, there seemed to be no<br />

need to rush down from the exquisite solitude and<br />

natural beauty encompassing us. These mountains,<br />

never crowded, are as enchanting and majestic as<br />

any in the country, and they should always be inhaled<br />

slowly.<br />

Eventually, we traversed carefully and delicately along<br />

the ridge to the north, towards Te Wera, and then down<br />

a low-angled slope to the base of the wall where we<br />

gathered our packs before returning to Turner’s Eyrie.<br />

It’s always a unique blend of feelings after succeeding<br />

at a first ascent. Until that day, no one had touched<br />

the rock on that part of the wall, and trying to climb it<br />

is shrouded in nervous uncertainty about whether it is<br />


possible, and, if so, how risky it might be; there are<br />

no bolts, and we have to place our own gear into the<br />

wall’s cracks and crevices to protect ourselves from<br />

any potential fall. Whether there will be placements,<br />

and if so, how many, are questions that hover over<br />

every move.<br />

So there’s the elation at having summited, but also<br />

relief for having not crushed anyone beneath me while<br />

throwing down loose rocks, contented fatigue from the<br />

day's mental and physical exertion, and gratitude for<br />

the adventure in a part of the country as remote as it<br />

is beautiful.<br />

Not that it was free of near-misses, after which<br />

I always try and consider what I should've done<br />

differently. The lesson from the previous season,to<br />

carry some pills in my chalk bag, had followed a<br />

ground fall while first-ascenting on a nearby face,<br />

having left my first aid kit behind at our bivvy spot.<br />

This time, like last time, there was a clear lesson that I<br />

already knew but had neglected: to keep any potential<br />

fall to a minimum, place a piece of protective gear<br />

before trying to throw a wrecking ball of rock from your<br />

perch. It was a lesson that, thankfully, hadn’t come at<br />

a high price.<br />

I’d faced a similar scenario a few weeks earlier, but<br />

I hadn’t learnt anything as there’d been no price<br />

to pay. I was on a craggy cliff below Mt Syme, in a<br />

neighbouring cirque, and leading up a long crack<br />

system that would eventually become a new threepitch<br />

route.<br />

My friend Nick Flyvbjerg had climbed the first pitch,<br />

starting up a two-crack system that eventually<br />

petered out and demanded a committing move above<br />


Nick Flyvbjerg belaying as Rachel Knott heads up pitch three of a new route<br />

on a crag below Mount Syme, in northern Fiordland.<br />

questionable gear. He committed, latched a hold, and<br />

continued up to a perch at the base of a corner, which<br />

I then climbed into a crack and chimney feature. But it<br />

was, unsurprisingly, clogged with debris—not unusual for<br />

terrain that climbers have yet to sample.<br />

With my belayers around a corner and well out of the<br />

line of fire, I was carefully discarding loose rocks to the<br />

abyss below. Most were no larger than my fist, but near<br />

the top of the pitch, I encountered a block the size of a<br />

50-litre pack. It wobbled alarmingly when I reached up<br />

and touched it. A metallic, echoey sound followed, familiar<br />

to anyone who has witnessed massive blocks of rock<br />

moving against each other.<br />

It’s terrifying to be on the sharp end when you know a<br />

fall will have serious consequences, but at least you<br />

only have yourself to blame for being in that position. It’s<br />

even more terrifying to be an inch from dropping a death<br />

block on someone below you, knowing that anything that<br />

happens will be triggered by your own hand.<br />

The dilemma: leave the block as is, and hope my climbing<br />

partners will climb up without any harm coming to anyone;<br />

or dislodge it myself, and hope it doesn’t obliterate my<br />

ropes, which would leave me stranded in the middle<br />

of the mountain. One of these options was more in my<br />

control than the other, so I opted for the latter.<br />

The block was sitting on a flat ledge, spacious enough<br />

for me to straddle it, facing out. I grabbed its lower love<br />

handles, braced myself, and then gripped and trundled<br />

for all I was worth. It was, of course, a heavy bastard, and<br />

almost totally immune to my efforts. It barely scraped over<br />

the edge before hitting something on the way down, and<br />

exploding into a zillion pieces.<br />

Dust rose up in the aftermath, as if a bomb had exploded.<br />

When it cleared, I could see that the ropes I was leading<br />

on seemed unscathed, thankfully. I also managed to keep<br />

my stance, well above my last piece of protective gear.<br />

Who knows what fate would have befallen me had I lost<br />

my footing, having not placed a fresh piece of gear—as<br />

would happen a few weeks later on Statue Wall.<br />

The third in our climbing team trio, Rachel Knott, took the<br />

ropes to the top of the wall via a series of cracks without<br />

any further drama. From there, we descended the snow<br />

slope back to our bags, and then hiked back to our bivvy<br />

spot, taking our time with a dip in some natural pools on<br />

the way.<br />

Lying in the sun to dry off, I thought about all the elements<br />

that have to come together to pull off a first ascent:<br />

choose a line, hope it has enough gear placements to<br />

keep you within an acceptable safety margin, deal with<br />

any loose rocks without unduly endangering yourself or<br />

your climbing partners, do the actual climbing that the<br />

route demands, and hopefully get everyone up—and<br />

down—safely before the weather turns to custard.<br />

And just as importantly, learn any lessons in the aftermath<br />

so you're better prepared for next time.<br />

Nick Flyvbjerg venturing into virgin terrain on the first pitch of a new climb.<br />





Words and images by Ben Henton<br />

It’s early May. Icey mornings, days are short. The sun<br />

seems to rise just in time to set. By early afternoon<br />

your breath is again visible as it hangs in the air like a<br />

momentary fog. The familiar smell of fires burning in<br />

homes across New Zealand fills the air, all in preparation<br />

for the cold night ahead. The sky has opened, and rain<br />

is coming down in sheets, hitting the roof of the car with<br />

such force that you need to raise your voice to be heard.<br />

While most will be tucked inside by the fire tonight, you’ll<br />

find me gearing up and heading out into the darkness.<br />

The winter shoreline fishing season is upon us, and for<br />

me, this deluge is cause for celebration.<br />

I’ve always had a passion for fishing. I would go so far as<br />

to say it’s an obsession. My parents love to tell the story<br />

of using a picture of a fish to calm me down as a baby if<br />

I was ever upset (which I’m sure was hardly ever). As a<br />

young fella, I would be out in my grandparent’s garden for<br />

hours trying to catch their goldfish with a stick and some<br />

twine.<br />

Once I mastered walking, I graduated from the goldfish<br />

pond to my first proper spinning rod. My dad is a keen fly<br />

fisherman, so I would tag along with him any chance I got.<br />

Unfortunately for me, some of his favourite haunts were<br />

fly fishing only, so I’d have to watch with bated breath from<br />

the shore, rugged up in warm clothes and gum boots on,<br />

as a handful of anglers would roll the dice for a monster.<br />

But in no time, the light would fade, and I’d have to try<br />

and make sense of the distant noises: the elegant sound<br />

of a line being cast, the noise of a reel peeling into its<br />

backing, the splash of a trout breaking the surface. On a<br />

good night, dad would be in a few times every hour with<br />

some monster trout, then eventually, once he had a bin<br />

full, would take a break to warm up with a hot cuppa and<br />

try to get the feeling back in his fingers. I’d sit in awe as he<br />

recounted every minute detail of how he landed each fish.<br />

This was more than just a hobby; this was an art form. On<br />

a bad night, we’d head back to the car at midnight, emptyhanded,<br />

hoping to catch a few hours sleep before we<br />

kicked off again at 5am. The thrill of it all was intoxicating,<br />

and over time my hunger for fly fishing grew. By the age of<br />

10, I finally converted. From that night on I never looked<br />

back - it was fly or die. This is why night fishing holds such<br />

a special place in my heart. This is where my fly-fishing<br />

journey first began. Night time.<br />

Here in New Zealand, and in particular, where I live In the<br />

Bay Of Plenty, we’re absolutely spoiled for choice when<br />

it comes to fishing. An hour in any direction will land you<br />

in the heart of world-class trout fishing all year round.<br />

While overseas anglers might be hanging up their gear<br />

for the winter, for us this is prime time. Our winter fishery<br />

transforms, as all the elusive large rainbow trout that<br />

usually hide out in the depths, finally leave the abyss and<br />

make their way to a stream, river or sandy gravel shore to<br />

spawn. Schools of massive trout line the shoreline, driven<br />

by instinct to carry on their lineage, besieged by a handful<br />

of anglers crazy enough to brave the elements in the hope<br />

of bagging a trophy, dinner, or sometimes just anything.<br />

Day or night, winter shoreline fishing is second to none.<br />

Starting your fly-fishing journey at nighttime has its<br />

disadvantages. You can’t really see what you’re doing,<br />

so learning to cast can be difficult. I would spend hours<br />

practising my cast after school and on weekends in the<br />

paddock across the road from my house. Aiming for<br />

different patches of dirt with each flick, desperately trying<br />

to improve my accuracy and distance, or at the very<br />

least to not blind one of the resident cattle looking on<br />

from the side. Somehow, I got a hold of a pair of secondhand<br />

waders. Way too big, leaky, but surely better than<br />

the shorts I had been wearing. I eventually resorted to<br />

tying bread bags to my feet to keep my socks dry, which<br />

seemed to help a bit but didn’t do much for the cold.<br />

Big rainbows like this are a common sight for those willing to brave the elements and head out into the night!<br />


"For me, the<br />

excitement<br />

of fishing<br />

after dark<br />

is second to<br />

none."<br />


Top left to right: I watched this fish eat my fly in knee deep crystal clear water! Sight fishing the shorelines in winter fishing can be exhilarating. / A local lake of mine that offers stunning<br />

scenery and fishing all year round with no closure.Bottom left to right: Heading up a favourite river full of fish that have started migrating up from a lake to spawn. In competition mode!<br />

Netting a fish on a training weekend with the Sports fly fishing New Zealand development squad.<br />

If you have any questions or need some advice, Ben is happy to help out. You can contact him on @hentonguiding<br />

Leaky waders and no idea what I was doing in sub-zero<br />

temperatures, but absolutely driven to land some of the<br />

monsters I’d seen dad bringing in night after night. It took<br />

about two winters and many hours on the water before I finally<br />

landed my first fish on the fly. A moment I’ll never forget. I was<br />

hooked. Pretty soon, I was saving every dollar I could scrape<br />

together for my first fly rod, the Kilwell innovation, a rod I still<br />

use to this day, 23 years later.<br />

For me the excitement of fishing after dark is second to none.<br />

Your senses completely change when you can no longer<br />

rely on sight. In the dead of night, touch and sound are all<br />

you have to figure out where to aim, your rhythm, and when<br />

to strike. I can often tell who’s fishing next to me just by the<br />

sound of their cast, and when the line goes tight, the chance of<br />

it being an 8lb plus fish is common.<br />

Night fishing is also one of the rare times I’ll catch for the<br />

table. Fish and Game do a great job managing the fishery and<br />

ensure a healthy stocking of fish every year. A fish will grow to<br />

about 8lb in just three years. Any wild fish or double digits that<br />

meet the end of my line will be returned to the water, in order<br />

to carry on its good genetics, but I’ll make an exception for<br />

one, a fish of a lifetime. A trophy that I’ll know when I see it, but<br />

I haven’t seen it yet.<br />

I came close not long ago. It was me, my dad and two<br />

other mates. The fishing was hard but in perfect conditions.<br />

Torrential downpours and no wind. We were fishing a favourite<br />

bush-clad local lake, the two mates had finally had enough and<br />

pulled the pin early. Just me and dad left to battle it out, the<br />

whole place to ourselves. Suddenly like a switch, the fishing<br />

was on! Multiple fish came to shore, including a trophy most<br />

people dream of catching - a beautiful 11.5lb rainbow jack. I<br />

took a few photos and let him go. He wasn’t destined for the<br />

wall, but what a moment to share with my old man. One we’ll<br />

never forget.<br />

In recent years my focus has been on competitive fly fishing. I<br />

started with the goal to represent New Zealand and test myself<br />

against the best in the game. What I didn’t realise was the<br />

sheer skill needed to compete, and the benefit to my fishing<br />

that would come from battling it out, weekend after weekend,<br />

with some incredible anglers. Skills I now bring to night fishing.<br />

Though it’s a slower pace, night fishing feels like home. It’s far<br />

more relaxed than comp fishing and reminds me why I love<br />

this sport so much. It’s just me and my mate out there, losing<br />

track of time into the wee hours. Talking rubbish over a brew,<br />

unlike competition fly fishing which takes complete focus,<br />

endless work and constant refining the process. There are no<br />

medals in night fishing, just camaraderie and a box of beers at<br />

the end of the season for the mate who landed the biggest fish<br />

- it’s good for the soul!<br />

With the arrival of my son a few years ago, the memories of<br />

night fishing with my dad come flooding back. Thankfully the<br />

young fella is pretty partial to a fish himself and often heads<br />

out with me in the backpack for a cheeky flick after work.<br />

Hopefully, with any luck in years to come, he’ll catch the<br />

bug, and be out fishing the night away, maybe even with his<br />

grandad too. I’ll just make sure he only needs a bread bag<br />

on one side for leaks - he can’t have it too easy. For those<br />

who aren’t mad, and prepared to get wet socks, todays gear<br />

is out of this world. I’m using the Orvis Pro jacket, which has<br />

stood up to some of the most torrential downpours you could<br />

imagine. Staying warm, dry and comfortable means I can focus<br />

on my fishing and stay out for longer. The guys at Killwell carry<br />

a good range of Orvis gear to cover all your bases and have<br />

the expert local knowledge to point you in the right direction. If<br />

you’ve ever wondered whether to give winter fishing a chance,<br />

I’d encourage it! Come out and join me in the picket line. Make<br />

sure you say ‘g-day’ when I’m having that half-time cuppa, I’m<br />

more than happy for a yarn or to offer some friendly advice.<br />

Most people call me crazy when I tell them I love winter, but<br />

for me nothing beats the hunt. Standing out in the lake, rain<br />

falling, just you and your mates. Even better when everything<br />

goes your way, for me, the long nights are when time is<br />

inconsequential and nothing else matters.<br />

This is my happy place.<br />








For more information visit www.kilwell.co.nz

All-inclusive<br />

package from<br />

$440 per person<br />

(twin share)<br />

Package includes:<br />

• Track transfers<br />

• Coffee and cake on arrival at<br />

On the Track Lodge<br />

• 2 nights in comfortable chalet<br />

accommodation*<br />

• All meals (Day 1 dinner & dessert,<br />

Day 2 breakfast, packed lunch & dinner<br />

& dessert, Day 3 breakfast & packed<br />

lunch). Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free<br />

meals available)<br />

• Use of On the Track Lodge kayaks<br />

and all other amenities, including a<br />

hot-tub.<br />

*Upgrade to stay in the newly<br />

renovated vintage train carriages<br />

(with private bathroom).<br />

Discover the hidden wonders of the Nydia Track, it is not as well known or<br />

busy as the Queen Charlotte Track but just as beautiful.<br />

The track takes you through coastal forest (rimu, nikau and beech) with<br />

superb views and is suitable for people with a reasonable level of fitness,<br />

boots are recommended and some of the streams are not bridged.<br />

• Start from Havelock and take a shuttle to historic Kaiuma Bay, (4-5 hours).<br />

• Dine then stay at On the Track Lodge in a comfortable chalet<br />

or train carriage accommodation.<br />

• Spend the next day relaxing at the lodge, kayaking or taking some shorter walks.<br />

• The next day complete the rest of the tramp (carrying your freshly<br />

prepared packed lunch) to Duncan Bay in time for another shuttle ride back to Havelock.<br />

On The Track Lodge<br />

Nydia Track, Marlborough Sounds<br />

+643 579 8411 | stay@onthetracklodge.nz<br />






Words and images by Eric Skilling<br />

Sceptical. That was my first reaction when<br />

hearing the claim about the Blue Lake<br />

having the clearest waters in the world.<br />

It was just a bit unbelievable. Firstly,<br />

how could “clearest” be measured, and<br />

secondly if it were true then why wasn’t it<br />

world famous - search ‘Blue Lake NZ’ and<br />

you will end up just outside Rotorua in the<br />

North Island?<br />

Science easily confirms the accuracy of<br />

the first question. As for the lack of fame<br />

– undoubtably because the South Island<br />

Lake is a nine-hour walk with an overnight<br />

stay in the wilderness; while at the other<br />

‘Northern One’ you can tow your boat to<br />

the water’s edge, go water-skiing and<br />

then walk across the road and get an ice<br />

cream.<br />

We found that the further we travelled up<br />

the valley, the more spectacular the terrain<br />

became. Lake Constance - an hour’s walk<br />

from the unique Blue Lake - is a spectacle<br />

on its own. Personally, my main goal<br />

was to take on the punishing climb to the<br />

Waiau Pass, with its unique views to the<br />

ranges of the Spenser Mountains.<br />

Bird life is prolific thanks to some intense<br />

pest control by “Friends of Lake Rotoiti”.<br />

The beech forest is full of the calls of<br />

bellbirds, tui, and the diminutive rifleman.<br />

It’s a pleasure to pitch tent and enjoy their<br />

calls as you drop off to sleep at night, and<br />

again when you wake in the morning.<br />

Perhaps it’s a little disturbing to learn<br />

the track is now part of the Te Araroa<br />

trail. There is absolutely no debate that<br />

the track should be part of the trail. The<br />

disturbing bit is that more foreigners<br />

are getting to appreciate the beauty<br />

and challenges of the area than New<br />

Zealanders. During the five-days we spent<br />

travelling the valley, we finished each<br />

day chatting with Germans, Canadians,<br />

English, Israelis, Australians and Czechs<br />

and the odd kiwi. Almost all raved about<br />

their experiences traversing the nearby<br />

Richmond range, but they were all in awe<br />

of what they had seen so far in the Nelson<br />

Lakes National Park.<br />

Choosing to spend a night at West<br />

Sabine, and two nights at Blue Lake, gave<br />

us time to enjoy the lake, and achieve the<br />

goal of making it to the head of the valley<br />

and reach Waiau Pass.<br />

First Day: Lake Rotoroa at 400m to<br />

West Sabine Hut at 800m elevation (5<br />

hours) Thankfully Donald, a local, chose<br />

to begin our trip with the half hour water<br />

taxi across the glassy-calm waters of Lake<br />

Rotoroa to the jetty at Sabine Hut. It is<br />

possible to walk in via Speargrass Hut or<br />

over the Travers Saddle, but this was a far<br />

more sensible approach.<br />


Donald negotiating one of the many slips on the trail<br />

Walking through South Island Beech<br />

Forest- the floor dappled with spots of<br />

sunlight - is an incomparable way to chill<br />

out and reprioritise. The noisy Sabine<br />

River track was a constant companion,<br />

either close alongside the trail or within<br />

hearing distance.<br />

The impact of last year’s heavy rains in<br />

the region everywhere. The trail often<br />

diverted away from the river through to<br />

freshly cut paths around fresh slips and<br />

collapsed riverbanks. Mostly the track<br />

followed the narrow space between the<br />

steep valley river, often meandering<br />

through grassy flats or loose slips, and<br />

crossing small tributaries where we<br />

refilled water bottles.<br />

Within the first hour we reached a bridge<br />

across a small and narrow but deep<br />

gorge. Below us we got a glimpse of the<br />

crystal-clear waters flowing from the Blue<br />

Lake. Some logs lying on the riverbed<br />

could be seen as clear as if they were<br />

millimetres below the water surface.<br />

Perfectly sited to pick up the sun,<br />

West Sabine hut must be a warm spot<br />

on a cold day. During our visit it was<br />

impersonating a sauna. Fortunately, there<br />

are plenty of superb camping spots set<br />

amongst the trees and close to the river,<br />

so I braved the sandflies while Donald<br />

chose the sweatbox.<br />

My reward was the company of two<br />

natives – a very curious and cheeky<br />

Robin and a daring weka. And I woke<br />

to the inimitable sounds of a multi-piece<br />

orchestra of native bird calls. Donald’s<br />

reward was – well, I don’t really know.<br />

Second Day: West Sabine to Blue<br />

Lake Hut 1200m (3 hours) We took<br />

longer than three hours. It was sunny<br />

and hot. Mountain beech becomes more<br />

prominent along this stretch. There are<br />

short stretches across scree slopes, and<br />

a more rugged section alongside some<br />

spectacular rapids with glistening spray<br />

as water cascaded over the boulders.<br />

On these sections we got full views of<br />

the rocky peaks soaring steeply above<br />

us, looking all that more ominous with<br />

numerous scree slopes.<br />

Stopping for a very brief but very cooling<br />

swim, with complimentary ice-cream<br />

headache, was well worth the pain before<br />

we tackled the final steep and broken<br />

stretch to the hut.<br />

Blue Lake Hut, a stone’s throw from the<br />

lake, is placed in one of the last clumps<br />

of forest before the smaller sub-alpine<br />

shrubs and tussocks dominate.<br />

Words failed us as we wandered around<br />

the edge of the lake. We kept staring<br />

into the bright blue water. It seemed<br />

to get clearer and deeper as we made<br />

our way around to the southern end. A<br />

shallow stream fed icy-cold (5 degrees<br />

centigrade) perfectly filtered water from<br />

Lake Constance – out of sight above us.<br />

Roughly kidney shaped and probably 250<br />

metres long, the outflow to the north is<br />

through a small cluster of rocks ranging<br />

up to the size of a small truck. It was<br />

no surprise when Marko, the local DOC<br />

volunteer hut warden recommended we<br />

drink water from the outflow of the lake in<br />

preference to the roof-fed tank water at<br />

the hut. To keep the waters pristine the<br />

rule is ‘Don’t Touch!’<br />

Blue Lake Hut to Waiau Pass 1870m<br />

(7 hours return). Getting to top of Waiau<br />

Pass is high on the list of the most<br />

challenging sections of the entire 3,000<br />

km Te Araroa Trail. We set off early,<br />

feeling inspired by the light daypacks and<br />

a near perfect day.<br />

A wide field of broken boulders meets you<br />

after the steep climb up the slip to Lake<br />

Constance. The precipitous, slip-strewn<br />

ridges of Mt Franklin line the eastern side<br />

of the lake. A small ridge on the western<br />

edge hides the distant top of the lake. It<br />

was sobering to consider the ridge was<br />

the scene of a tragedy in 2013 when Te<br />

Araroa walker Andy Wyatt wandered off<br />

the path and slid to his death.<br />


Lone tramper heading dowm Waiau Pass towards lake Constance<br />


Steep sided Sabine Valley below Blue Lake Hut<br />

The famous hamburger rock and the pristine waters of the Blue Lake<br />

George and Katerina inspired me to reach the top of the Waiau Pass<br />

Today, with hardly a breath of wind stirring<br />

the water, the serenity was still tinged with<br />

a little sadness.<br />

My tramping buddy chose to spend more<br />

time exploring the lake before making his<br />

way back to the hut. I continued my way<br />

up the scree slope to the top of the small<br />

ridge and lingered for a few minutes out<br />

of respect for Andy and pondered the<br />

impact the tragedy would have had on his<br />

friends and family.<br />

Once off the very steep track back down<br />

the lake, I had the good fortune to meet<br />

Katerina and George from the Czech<br />

Republic, resting after lugging their<br />

full packs to this point. It was great to<br />

share the experience with them before I<br />

continued my way.<br />

The valley leading up to Waiau Pass is<br />

a photographer’s dream. Tussock and<br />

other tall alpine grasses layered the<br />

valley floor. Ahead the imposing slopes<br />

of Mt Mahanga (2196m) blocked the way<br />

ahead. I got so distracted by the stunning<br />

scene that I accidently wandered off the<br />

track but thankfully Katerina and George<br />

caught me up and pointed me in the right<br />

direction.<br />

I have to confess that if it wasn’t for the<br />

inspiration of my two new companions, I<br />

might never have reached the pass. They<br />

attacked the slope, leaning hard against<br />

the weight of their packs.<br />

I followed the most obvious of the many<br />

zig zag paths across the scree and<br />

eventually made it to the first of many<br />

false tops. Ahead of me my companions<br />

made it over the crest and disappeared.<br />

Stopping at one stage I turned to take<br />

in the absolute rugged grandeur of the<br />

place, with the striking contrast of the<br />

rocky mountains against the blue waters<br />

of Lake Constance. Sometime later I<br />

made my way - heart rate well about the<br />

80% of max - to the small plateau before<br />

the last 156 metre climb to the pass itself.<br />

A thousand or so calories later I was<br />

standing on the pass, staring across at<br />

the St James Range and the source of<br />

the Clarence River, feeling stoked.<br />

Three thousand hikers were expected to<br />

complete the Te Araroa trail from Cape<br />

Reinga to Bluff over the 2022/23 season<br />

and make it over this pass. It felt good<br />

to have shared this place with those<br />

adventurers.<br />

34//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/<strong>#238</strong><br />

Eric chooses to use Backcountry, Macpac, JetBoil and Keen products



In May, 20,000 bunks on the<br />

Milford Track were snapped<br />

up in minutes, and it seems<br />

many hut booking systems<br />

suffers the same fate. It’s not<br />

a question of being quick,<br />

it simply boils down to luck.<br />

However, a lot of those who do<br />

manage to book, book multiple<br />

options and cancel as they<br />

don’t need them.<br />

James Morgan said ‘enough is<br />

enough’ and built an app that<br />

tracks cancellations, telling<br />

those people who missed out<br />

if and when a bed becomes<br />

available. Smart idea! We<br />

caught up with James and dug<br />

a little deeper.<br />

Who is James Morgan? Well, I am a 29 year old Aucklander who<br />

has a natural love for hiking and the outdoors. Particularly during the<br />

Covid lockdowns we started ticking off every walk around Auckland and<br />

ever since we have been trying to get out as much as possible on the<br />

weekends to go hiking and explore NZ’s walks.<br />

As a software developer – exactly what is it that you do when not<br />

designing tramping apps? For work I lead the analytics team for the<br />

advertising company called dentsu. We have data scientists, analysts<br />

and engineers that work on a range of different things, but mostly we<br />

aim to draw insights that help us to ensure that the media that dentsu<br />

buys for its clients is as effective as possible.<br />

Are you involved in the coding aspect or the concept and the<br />

design or all three? I was involved across all three of these. I<br />

have quite a bit of backend development experience which came in<br />

particularly handy for designing and building the applications core<br />

functionality. I then connected this up to a frontend template that I<br />

found online and modified, which gives you the look and feel that you<br />

can see today.<br />

How did the idea of the app come about?<br />

The idea came from my partner's parents who were trying to book the<br />

Routeburn huts with no luck, so I built the first iteration of the tool which<br />

purely looked for their walk dates and had no nice user interface to<br />

use. After they managed to get 4 spots through using the tool, I figured<br />

that booking huts on these trails is a common problem and lots of other<br />

people would value a tool like this to help them to book as well.<br />

Explain how it works? The application has two components, the<br />

scanning component, and the alerts component. The scanning<br />

component is constantly scanning for hut availability across all the<br />

Great Walks for the current season. Then the alerts component tries<br />

to match the scan with an alert that someone has set up. If there is a<br />

match, then that person will receive an email notifying them that a spot<br />

is available at their hut and that they should go ahead and book whilst<br />

the spot is still available.<br />

There are bots out there that prefill in booking forms and re-apply<br />

– this is not that correct? Whilst these tools probably exist in the<br />

world, DOC mentioned that “they had seen no evidence of “automatic”<br />

generation or pre-filled forms being submitted by scripts. All the<br />

bookings last year were connected to at least one real hiker”.<br />

I also decided not to go down this route as DOC really does frown upon<br />

these kinds of applications as well and I want to ensure I am working in<br />

a way that they are comfortable with. There are also people looking for<br />

the same spots as one another and I want to ensure that everyone has<br />

a fair chance in securing their spot, so making the actual booking isn’t<br />

really an option for my application.<br />

Developer of NZ Great Walks Alert app, James Morgan<br />


Please explain exactly how it work<br />

for the user? People can get use the<br />

application to secure their spot in 3<br />

simple steps;<br />

1. Jump onto the website and enter<br />

the details for the hut and date that<br />

you are trying to book.<br />

2. If there are spots available that<br />

match the alert, then the application<br />

will immediately send that person<br />

an email to let them know that there<br />

is an available alert.<br />

3. That person can then follow the link<br />

to the DOC booking system as soon<br />

as the notification comes through to<br />

secure their spot before it is taken.<br />

Is there a cost? Not currently, the<br />

application is free to everyone who is<br />

wanting to use it.<br />

Have you had any feedback from DoC<br />

by way of support or at all? DOC said<br />

that they are “neutral” on the use of such<br />

apps, but they do “support initiatives that<br />

help visitors”. They are however very<br />

clear that they do condone the use of<br />

bots to make the actual bookings.<br />

Are these types of independent apps<br />

available in other countries? My<br />

application is available to anyone who<br />

is wanting to use it, regardless of their<br />

country. Anyone visiting New Zealand<br />

can also book these huts so I see no<br />

reason to limit its use.<br />

Are you surprised – seeing this is a<br />

‘service’ that DoC has not already<br />

started a similar system? Yes, I am<br />

surprised as the way that I see it is that<br />

a notifications service these days is a<br />

natural part of any bookings system. It<br />

improves customer service / satisfaction<br />

as well as helps to ensure that your<br />

facilities are at maximum occupancy.<br />

However, they mentioned that they have<br />

no plan to set up their own waiting list or<br />

notifications app.<br />

A lot of countries have permit and<br />

even ballot options simply to walk<br />

in an area let alone stay – do you<br />

think this this would be a solution<br />

to overcrowding? That’s a good<br />

question. I think that having some of the<br />

availability on ballot might work, but the<br />

nature of these bookings is that people<br />

are also constantly changing their plans<br />

and cancelling their spot, and I think a<br />

purely balloted system might struggle<br />

with this. I also feel that those people<br />

who are willing to put in the effort to be<br />

there ready for when the season opens<br />

or jumping into the website when a spot<br />

opens should also be rewarded.<br />

Do you intend to expand the app?<br />

Yes, there has been lots of demand for<br />

this application to be extended to cover<br />

some of the other high occupancy huts<br />

that DOC has. I am currently working<br />

to build this out as a new feature to be<br />

released over the coming months.<br />

Have you any more projects in the<br />

wings that we should know about? I<br />

always have lots of ideas for projects,<br />

but for now my focus is on perfecting this<br />

application and expanding it into some of<br />

the other high occupancy huts.<br />


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Crankworx Rotorua took flight in March<br />

2015, becoming the first festival outside of<br />

North America and Europe. Since then, it’s<br />

played host to some of the most memorable<br />

moments in Crankworx history and is now<br />

referred to as “the soul of Crankworx” due<br />

to its unique ability to combine riding with<br />

culture. It is the most-watched mountain<br />

bike event in the world. Rotorua, centrally<br />

located in the North Island, has an enviable<br />

backyard – otherworldly geothermal<br />

landscapes, 18 crystal-clear lakes and<br />

beautiful native forests.<br />

It’s also the ultimate destination for<br />

year-round mountain biking, with more<br />

than 200 kilometres of world-renowned<br />

mountain bike trails weaving through<br />

Whakarewarewa Forest, plus Skyline<br />

Rotorua’s all-downhill MTB Park. Add to<br />

this the numerous tourism activities and<br />

attractions. So add the perfect location,<br />

the best mountain bikers in the world and<br />

the most challenging event, and you have<br />

the perfect ingredients to create a worldclass<br />

event – here is this year’s rundown<br />

provided by Crankworx.<br />

The event kicked off with slopestyle<br />

competition, Johansson kicked off his<br />

Crankworx season the way he ended the<br />

last, with yet another impressive victory.<br />

However, it was far from easy for the<br />

Swede who was pushed all the way by<br />

Poland’s Dawid Godziek. Seeking a third<br />

Triple Crown of Crankworx in three years,<br />

Johansson showed no sign of rustiness as<br />

he scored 93.75 with a hugely technical<br />

run that included a 360 barspin to double<br />

downside whips both ways and a new flat<br />

drop flip x-up. That left him top of the table<br />

after his first run, ahead of Godziek on<br />

91.5 and the UK's Tom Isted on 88. The<br />

Brit then failed to improve on his first run<br />

score, while Godziek raised the bar with a<br />

second run full of hammers – including a<br />

cashroll barspin on the stepdown, and a<br />

twister no hander.<br />

However, the Polish rider could only<br />

secure a 93.5 and Johansson could<br />

relax during his second run, safe in the<br />

knowledge he had already secured a 10th<br />

victory on the tour.Johansson, 23, said:<br />

“We are all competing because we like to<br />

push ourselves, and it makes us grow. We<br />

push each other by pushing ourselves. It’s<br />

sick to be part of it and to play a part in the<br />

progression. Everyone is evolving all the<br />

time and that’s what keeps competitions<br />

fun and interesting.”<br />

Sunday also saw the Dual Slalom take<br />

place and in the women’s event it was<br />

Aussie rider Burbidge-Smith against the<br />

UK's Martha Gil in an explosive final.<br />

After Burbidge-Smith had edged the first<br />

run, in a first for Crankworx, both riders<br />

were disqualified for missing a gate in the<br />

second run and, after a lengthy review, the<br />

win was awarded to the Australian.<br />

Burbidge-Smith, 26, said: “I had to be<br />

cleared to race today because I hit my<br />

head pretty hard during Speed & Style<br />

yesterday. I had a good time in the first<br />

run, which was lucky as we both missed<br />

flags in the second run.”<br />

In the men’s final, last year’s winner<br />

Jackson Frew attempted to defend his title<br />

against local favourite Tuhoto-Ariki Pene.<br />

The Kiwi grabbed the early advantage,<br />

crossing the line with a narrow lead on<br />

the first run. However, he couldn't hold<br />

on and slid out at the bottom of the final<br />

run, handing the gold medal to Australian<br />

Frew.<br />

Earlier in the week, five-time world<br />

champion Bruni was able to keep his<br />

composure through the challenging<br />

conditions with the fastest downhill time of<br />

3:00.348, which just edged out Sweden's<br />

Oliver Zwar (3:00.692) with American<br />

Neko Mulally third in a time of 3:01.287.<br />

Nice native Bruni, 28, said: "My run was<br />

pretty late in the day, so it was tough to<br />

stay in the headspace especially with it<br />

getting darker in the woods. I did pretty<br />

good on the top sections, but I couldn't<br />

really adapt to the track. I did a few small<br />

mistakes, but I was feeling fast by the time<br />

I reached the bottom. Feeling like I am<br />

starting the season in the best way, so I<br />

am feeling stoked."<br />

In the women's downhill final, Blewitt<br />

won her first World Tour gold medal, after<br />

winning the junior category in 2020, with<br />

compatriots Jenna Hastings second and<br />

Shania Rawson third.<br />

Blewitt, 20, said: "My run went to plan.<br />

My plan being to keep it rubber side down<br />

and that worked. I had got a little bit loose<br />

in a few spots, but overall pretty happy.<br />

Rotorua is a hard track in that you don't<br />

know how much you can really push, but I<br />

think it was a smart race run."<br />

Elsewhere during the week, competitors<br />

participating in the Pump Track Challenge<br />

were treated to a freshly reshaped, tight<br />

and technical course.<br />

In the women’s final, Caroline Buchanan<br />

got the better of Kalani Hines to make<br />

it back-to-back victories at the New<br />

Zealand venue, while the bronze medal<br />

match-up saw two home favourites battle<br />

it out as Jessie Smith narrowly edged<br />

out compatriot Shania Rawson. There<br />

was also a home hope in the men’s final<br />

as Kiwi rider Tuhoto-Ariki Pene took on<br />

current UCI Pump Track World Champion<br />

Niels Bensink from the Netherlands.<br />

Pene delighted his home crowd as he<br />

went all out in the second of two runs<br />

to overcome Bensink's first run time<br />

advantage and claim the title. Third place<br />

went to Australia’s Jayce Cunning who<br />

defeated Bas van Steenbergen.<br />


In the Speed & Style event – which combines elements of Dual<br />

Slalom and Slopestyle – there was yet more home success as<br />

New Zealand’s Robin Goomes overcame Australia’s Caroline<br />

Buchanan in the final.The Kiwi rider put together a stylish run as<br />

she combined plenty of speed with some huge backflips to take<br />

the win. Britain’s Martha Gill claimed bronze after overcoming<br />

New Zealand’s Jenna Hastings.<br />

Maxxis Slopestyle winner, Emil Johansson<br />

In the men’s event, Australia’s Mike Ross edged out British rider<br />

Kade Edwards in a thrilling final that saw Ross pull off some<br />

trademark tricks including a huge cash roll on the first jump. In<br />

an equally enthralling bronze medal match, Frenchman Tomas<br />

Lemoine overcame American rider Garret Mechem to claim third<br />

place<br />

Results – RockShox Taniwha Downhill<br />

1) Loic Bruni (FRA) 3:00.348 // Jess Blewitt (NZL) 3:35.792<br />

2) Oliver Zwar (SWE) 3:00.692 // Jenna Hastings (NZL) 3:42.234<br />

3) Neko Mulally (USA) 3:01.287 // Shania Rawson (NZL)<br />

3:45.540<br />

Tuhoto-Ariki Pene and Jackson Frew<br />

Pump Track Challenge presented by Torpedo7<br />

1) Tuhoto-Ariki Pene (NZL) // Caroline Buchanan (AUS)<br />

2) Niels Bensink (NED) // Kalani Hines (USA)<br />

3) Jayce Cunning (AUS) // Jessie Smith (NZL)<br />

Speed & Style Rotorua<br />

1) Mike Ross (AUS) // Robin Goomes (NZL)<br />

2) Kade Edwards (GBR) // Caroline Buchanan (AUS)<br />

3) Tomas Lemoine (FRA) // Martha Gill (GBR)<br />

Maxxis Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza<br />

1) Emil Johansson (SWE)<br />

2) Dawid Godziek (POL)<br />

3) Tom Isted (GBR)<br />

Dual Slalom Rotorua<br />

1) Jackson Frew (AUS) // Harriet Burbidge-Smith (AUS)<br />

2) Tuhoto-Ariki Pene (NZL) // Martha Gil (GBR)<br />

3) Bas van Steenbergen (CAN) // Jenna Hastings (NZL)<br />

For upcoming events keep tuned at:<br />

www.crankworx.com/festival/rotorua/<br />

Harriet Burbidge-Smith<br />



Ben Harrington at World Champs - Image by FIS Freestyle / Chad Buchholz<br />



Worsd by Britt Hawes - Images as stated<br />

Kiwi snow sports athletes have<br />

continued their momentum from<br />

their phenomenal 2022 season,<br />

continuing to put New Zealand on<br />

the global snow sports map across<br />

multiple disciplines.<br />

Kiwis had considerable success at<br />

the top levels of the sport, while also<br />

producing incredible results at North<br />

American Cup and European Cup<br />

level, showing just how deep the<br />

talent runs in Kiwi snow sports.<br />

Check out some of the epic results<br />

below!<br />

Freeskiing<br />

18-year-old freeskier Ruby Star<br />

Andrews burst onto the World Cup<br />

Slopestyle scene this year, claiming<br />

the first World Cup podium of her<br />

career. Ruby finished in third place<br />

at the FIS Slopestyle World Cup<br />

held at Mammoth Mountain. She<br />

also achieved a career best result<br />

at the FIS Park and Pipe World<br />

Championships, finishing in 6th<br />

place in the Freeski Slopestyle.<br />

Luca Harrington had a breakthrough<br />

season, claiming career best World<br />

Cup and World Championships<br />

results. Luca finished in fourth place<br />

at the heavily stacked FIS Freeski<br />

Slopestyle World Cup in Silvaplana<br />

and in fifth place in Big Air at the FIS<br />

Park & Pipe World Championships<br />

held in Georgia.<br />

Luca's older brother Ben Harrington<br />

also achieved a career best World<br />

Champs finish, with a fifth place<br />

in the Freeski Halfpipe as well as<br />

finishing in fifth place at the invite<br />

only Dew Tour the week prior.<br />

In the Freeski Development space,<br />

Fin Melville Ives (16) and Gustav<br />

Legnavsky (17) both had career<br />

best Halfpipe World Cup finishes,<br />

with two sixth place finishes for<br />

Fin and a seventh place finish for<br />

Gustav.<br />

14-year-old Luke Harrold had<br />

a fantastic season at the North<br />

American Cup and European Cup<br />

level, claiming the win at both the<br />

Freeski Halfpipe European Cup<br />

Premium in LAAX and Aspen Open<br />

Freeski Halfpipe competitions.<br />

Para Alpine Ski Racing<br />

Adam Hall had yet another<br />

successful season on the Para<br />

Alpine World Cup circuit, with his<br />

top result a third-place finish at the<br />

FIS Para Alpine Slalom World Cup<br />

held in St. Moritz.<br />

Adam also secured podium finishes<br />

at the Slalom European Cup Finals<br />

in Fageralm Forstau (2nd place)<br />

and the Slalom European Cup in<br />

Wildschoenau (3rd place).<br />

The Para Alpine Development<br />

team had a successful season, with<br />

podiums achieved across Slalom,<br />

Giant Slalom and Super G at<br />

Nationals and FIS level races.<br />


Snowboarding<br />

Zoi Sadowski-Synnott continued her utter dominance<br />

of women's snowboarding, once again finishing on the<br />

podium at every event she dropped into this season.<br />

Zoi won the LAAX Snowboard Slopestyle Open for the first<br />

time in her decorated career, a dream of hers since she<br />

first started competing.<br />

The following week Zoi successfully defended her Aspen X<br />

Games slopestyle gold medal, marking her fourth X Games<br />

slopestyle gold medal and her eighth X Games medal, a<br />

phenomenal achievement.<br />

After taking the win at both scored events (Revelstoke<br />

and Alaska) of the 2023 Natural Selection Tour, Zoi was<br />

crowned the overall 2023 Natural Selection Tour Champion,<br />

as well as the winner of each individual stop.<br />

Zoi also claimed the snowboard slopestyle silver medal at<br />

the FIS Park & Pipe World Championships, silver at the FIS<br />

Snowboard Big Air World Cup in Kreischberg and silver in<br />

Big Air at the Aspen X Games.<br />

The future of New Zealand snowboarding continues to look<br />

exceptionally bright, with junior athletes Cam Melville Ives,<br />

Txema Mazet-Brown, Lucia Georgalli and Ava Beer all<br />

securing podium finishes across European Cup events and<br />

World Rookie Tour finals in Slopestyle, Big Air and Halfpipe.<br />


Zoi in action in Alaska - Image by Natural Selection Tour/Chad Chomlack<br />


Alpine Ski Racing<br />

Alice Robinson proved she is back on form with a string of top 10 finishes<br />

at World Cup and World Championship events. Her top finish position was<br />

seventh, which she achieved twice in Giant Slalom and once in Super G.<br />

Kiwi speedskier Tawny Wagstaff, obliterated New Zealand's speed<br />

skiing world record, clocking a phenomenal 248.610kph at the World<br />

Championships held in France in March.<br />

Tawny in fact broke the NZ record twice over four days, initially breaking<br />

the twenty-year-old NZ record on the 20th of March with a speed of<br />

233kph, then subsequently topping his own record with a speed of<br />

248.610kph on the 22nd of March. Tawny is now the 11th fastest person in<br />

the world of all time.<br />

Finn Bilous doing what he does best<br />

Freeride<br />

Finn Bilous had an epic debut season on the Freeride World Tour, securing<br />

both a fourth and fifth finish at the Kicking Horse and Ordino Arcalís stops<br />

respectively. Despite all the Kiwis on Tour giving it everything they had, Finn<br />

was the only athlete to make it through the cut to the final two stops on the<br />

Tour this year.<br />

A huge congratulations to Blake Marshall and Ben Richards, who due to<br />

their fantastic results on the Freeride World Qualifier, have secured their<br />

spots on the 2024 Freeride World Tour.<br />

With Winter Games NZ delivering an extensive Park & Pipe, Alpine and<br />

Freeride programme during the 2023 New Zealand winter we look forward to<br />

watching the Kiwis in action on home snow!<br />





In the whirlwind of audio-visual overload, YouTube, Vimeo,<br />

Netflix, Neon, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram – the list is never<br />

ending. We are slammed with extreme video gigabytes of<br />

incredible dopamine charging footage. But in contrast to this<br />

overload of visual blitz, Gale films stopped and looked at the<br />

real beauty behind snow sports, split-boarding in particular<br />

and added music (sometimes live), poetry and stunning<br />

artistic visuals. Is this a new era in our snowed based visual<br />

experience?<br />

A blank canvas with plenty of space for interpretation<br />

Image of Levi - Image by S Rinkin

Images by P Butcher<br />

Gale on track - Image by P Butcher<br />

"The challenge was clearly to use the climbed<br />

altitude as efficiently as possible and to be<br />

videographer and rider on each descent."<br />

Gale – the Project:<br />

Gale is an audiovisual split board sensory experience<br />

and leads through forests, faces in the Aletsch area and<br />

follows a rope team up the Uri Traverse. Levi Lugged<br />

and Gregor Betschon show the different sides of touring<br />

using dynamic, artistic images and together with sound<br />

artist Andreas Achermann paint a unique mountain<br />

world. The British Joshua Truscott combines image and<br />

sound with his lyrical texts so that the emotions and the<br />

feeling of the mountains reach the audience. Immerse<br />

yourself in this special atmosphere and let yourself drift.<br />

Originally the plan was to document the UrnerTraverse,<br />

a 4 day high tour through the Urner Alps and to present<br />

it as a short film. This is a classic spring tour. With<br />

meters of snow in Valais in January and more to come<br />

we started trying out experimental filming. From then on<br />

we worked as a team and with each snowfall produced<br />

more footage. By the middle of the season it was<br />

obvious we would make a short film about splitboarding<br />

and put the traverse in it. With this we had the optimal<br />

basis to show different facets of spitboarding in one film.<br />

Gale's visual language is one as close to action as<br />

possible. The follow shots are the main element and<br />

the POV shots are complementary. We have been on<br />

the road together and have thus filmed each other. The<br />

challenge was clearly to use the climbed altitude as<br />

efficiently as possible and to be videographer and rider<br />

on each descent. The film is not a high-end produced<br />

film but one with which you can identify.<br />

Music:<br />

The inspirations and ideas around the music and lyrics<br />

came from the conversations during the filming. We<br />

were looking for ways to retell our experiences in a<br />

subtle form of film. We understand music in a film as<br />

a hub for emotions. It is the carrier and transmitter<br />

of feelings and allows us to perceive images more<br />

intensely and subjectively. We wanted to share these<br />

elements with the audience while watching “Gale” and<br />

so it was clear that the live performance was the key to<br />

a special experience.<br />

With Andreas we found the musician who had excellent<br />

musical skills, enough technical knowledge and<br />

motivation for such a project. Since Andreas does the<br />

soundtrack with his Synthesizer, the realization was also<br />

realistic. In a long process over a year with re-edits, new<br />

tracks, further cuts and a mastering, Gale has been able<br />

to develop as a piece. After the first rough cut was done<br />

and we found the music with Andreas, the film wasn’t<br />

complete. It lacked a unifying element that made the film<br />

accessible to less snow enthusiasts.<br />

Follow me...Image by P Butcher<br />



Gregor - Image by S Ricklin<br />

"We showed Josh the rough cut, to which he freely wrote and recorded poetry."<br />

Poetry:<br />

A classical narrator would have been out of the question for<br />

us. We wanted the off voice to comment the film from his own<br />

perspective instead of being given a text by us.<br />

The poet should - if possible - never have stood on a snowboard<br />

before and therefore create texts that can paint a mountain<br />

world even for laymen. Andreas has worked with Joshua several<br />

times before and thought he would be a perfect fit, as he is from<br />

England and has never snowboarded before.<br />

We showed Josh the rough cut, to which he freely wrote and<br />

recorded poetry. That means we gave him absolute artistic<br />

freedom and he didn't revise the texts anymore. So the narrative<br />

perspective is the same as that of the audience. Through the<br />

poems, images are stimulated in the viewers that are not even<br />

visible on the screen. This makes "Gale" a real experience<br />

Since 2021 Gale and Andreas Achermann performed fifteen<br />

times as a Ciné Concert from Anncey to Andermatt, Munich to<br />

Vienna. For a Ciné-Concert you need musicians who like to<br />

take risks. Because in a classical concert, mistakes are not as<br />

obvious as in a film music performance. Synchronizing image<br />

and sound is demanding and always holds new challenges. The<br />

musician is always on the side of the screen and the audience<br />

can watch him making music during the whole film. Andreas<br />

creates a discreet stage set with his instrument and it is an<br />

incredible artistic achievement as he reshapes the sounds with<br />

every performance.<br />

The online version includes the music, but you can imagine the<br />

impact with the live music, I guess like the rest of the product<br />

that’s all we can do at present is imagine.<br />

Splitboarding - Image by P Bucher<br />

Riders: Levi Luggen, Gregor Betschon, Matthias<br />

Schwestermann<br />

Sponsors: K2 Snowboarding, doodah, Exped, Hä? Wear, Pow<br />

Gloves<br />

Filmmakers: Gregor Betschon, Levi Luggen,<br />

Music: Andreas Achermann<br />

Poems: Joshua Truscott,<br />

Photo: Phil Bucher, Simon Ricklin<br />

Colors: Oli Schmocker,<br />

Special Thanks: Vera Rijks, David Bertschinger Karg, Kuno<br />

Egli, Ahriel Povich, Thomas Landolt, Markus Stoffel<br />

More Infos: www.galefilm.com<br />


54//WHERE ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS/<strong>#238</strong><br />



By Martin Grafetsberger<br />

As a photographer, I get to live vicariously through the adventures of others.<br />

Don’t get me wrong, over the years I’ve hung off the end of a top rope and<br />

stood chest deep in an ice cold river, all in pursuit of that perfect shot. But when<br />

it comes to kayaking, I’m well out of my depth, preferring to spend much of my<br />

time as a mountain guide in and around Tongariro National Park.<br />

Being a Taupo local, I don’t visit Huka Falls that much, but when a fellow guide<br />

messaged me one morning to say that he and a few mates were going to run<br />

the falls, there was no question, I had to be there. While my wife Debs (who’s<br />

the better looking half of our photography business, Blurry Media) set herself up<br />

on the bridge to capture the action in the gorge, I positioned myself at the lower<br />

lookout to catch them going over the drop.<br />

Now I have to admit that from the sidelines, these guys made it look easy, each<br />

of them doing three back-to-back runs in quick succession which was great<br />

for the crowds in the ‘grandstands’ and great for us taking photos. But don’t<br />

be fooled, Huka can be a challenging run that changes radically at different<br />

flows. On this particular day, the flow was at around 82 cumecs, well within the<br />

supposed 50 to 120 cumecs ‘safe’ range. Just 24 hours prior to this however,<br />

the river had been at 278 cumecs. Think about it, that’s around 280,000<br />

litres per second, enough to fill a 50 metre Olympic pool every 9 seconds, all<br />

pumping through a gorge that’s just a few metres wide.

Making The Weir look easy, enter centre and drive left.<br />



“It’s nothing to some,<br />

everything to others.<br />

It’s a deadly tourist<br />

attraction and yet, an<br />

easy ego boost. It can be<br />

the pinnacle of kayaking<br />

for some and an overhyped<br />

playground for others.<br />

It can be dangerous and<br />

fun at the same time. It<br />

can create its own aura,<br />

myths and legends and<br />

perhaps it shouldn't.<br />

When you're in there,<br />

you're surrounded by<br />

tourists and cheering<br />

friends yet completely<br />

alone. You realise how<br />

small you are within<br />

the power of nature, and<br />

yet, when you clear the<br />

last drop, you feel like<br />

you've just tamed the<br />

beast, desperate to risk<br />

it all again.”<br />

Taranaki based kayaker, Jonny Kennedy<br />

So what’s it like to run Huka at high flow? One person who knows<br />

all too well is Greg Oke who, along with Nick Kerkham, made the<br />

first descent back in 1981. I managed to catch up with Greg who<br />

admits that even now, retelling the story some forty years later still<br />

brings back the shakes. Such is the power of Huka Falls.<br />

How did that first descent come about? Turns out that in<br />

December of that year the guys had come up from Palmy to<br />

spend a weekend playing at Fulljames/Nga Awa Purua Rapids.<br />

Unfortunately their plans had been scuppered by an issue at the<br />

control gates which were left wide open and couldn’t be shut for<br />

some reason. As a result, flow was in the high 200s and Nga Awa<br />

Purua was completely blown out.<br />

Committed to the drop<br />

Heading home from the weekend and with Nick feeling “antsy and<br />

bored” they stopped in to have a look at Huka, something they’d<br />

done countless times before without ever seriously considering<br />

doing the run. Only this time was different as Nick looked at Greg<br />

and said, “Should we do it?”

The perfect line<br />

At that point it wasn’t about ego or box ticking. As Greg puts it,<br />

it was simply “the right time, the right day and everything felt<br />

right.” Once they committed, there was no room for thoughts<br />

about a negative outcome. Trusting their skills (they were<br />

both highly ranked NZ slalom paddlers at the time), and their<br />

understanding of hydraulics, they picked what they thought<br />

would be the best line and went for it.<br />

In the end, they did two separate runs, choosing to be at the<br />

bottom for each other. Greg’s lasting memory was the force of<br />

the water blasting him in the face at the top of the drop before<br />

he disappeared into the inky darkness of the boil. Sadly, Nick<br />

passed away in a car accident quite a few years back so he’s<br />

not around to share his experience first-hand.<br />

But the story doesn’t end there. If it had been up to them,<br />

the guys would have simply gotten into their car and quietly<br />

disappeared with nothing more than a sense of personal<br />

achievement, and an epic story to share with their mates. As<br />

it turned out, the President of the NZ Canoeing Association at<br />

the time happened to be at the falls taking photos, and when<br />

he realised what they were about to do, he raced down to the<br />

lower lookout to capture them going over the drop.<br />

Unsurprisingly, these photos found their way to the press and<br />

the guys ended up being featured in the Herald and on TV.<br />

This gave them some notoriety as well as a bit of unwelcome<br />

attention from the NZ Water Safety Council who weren’t happy<br />

that “a couple of randoms” had done this irresponsible act. In<br />

the end, the furore died down and Greg and Nick’s place in<br />

New Zealand kayaking history was cemented.<br />

Since that first descent, Huka Falls has been run many times<br />

and in numerous ways from tandem to hand paddling and even<br />

on a bodyboard. Obviously a lot has changed in the last four<br />

decades in terms of gear and kayaks in particular, which are<br />

now a far cry from the Olymp 6 fibreglass slalom kayaks the<br />

guys used back then. To some extent, this has made runs like<br />

Huka Falls a lot more accessible to more kayakers who want to<br />

tick it off their bucket list. In this regard, Greg does have a few<br />

words of caution.<br />

“People need to respect any piece of water at any time. Be<br />

honest about whether your skillset meets what you’re about<br />

to do and never paddle a rapid just because your friends are<br />

doing it. Trust your intuition on the day.”<br />

And he’s talking from experience. Still on a high after running<br />

Huka Falls, and feeling like he could conquer anything, Greg<br />

started to chase after more first descents. Around 8 weeks after<br />

Huka, he had a bad feeling about a particular run but, against<br />

his better judgement, did it anyway because other guys were<br />

doing it. In his words he “made a mess of it” (I got the sense<br />

that it was probably a lot worse than he was letting on) and got<br />

a good kick in the ego which he reckons he probably needed.<br />

But he’s still here, still passionate about the sport and still<br />

paddling at the very respectable age of 61. He only paddled<br />

Huka Falls the one time and has never seriously considered<br />

doing it again, but you only have to do it once to be the first.<br />


Tawny claims his New Zealand speed record<br />



New Zealand Speed Skier Tawny Wagstaff<br />

(Methven, 44) has broken the twenty-yearold<br />

NZ Speed Skiing record, clocking an<br />

incredible 248.610kph at the Speed Skiing<br />

World Championships held in Vars on the<br />

22nd of March. Wagstaff in fact broke the NZ<br />

record twice over the last four days, initially<br />

breaking the twenty-year-old NZ record on<br />

the 20th of March with a speed of 233kph,<br />

then subsequently topping his own record<br />

with a speed of 248.610kph on the 22nd of<br />

March. Wagstaff is now the eleventh fastest<br />

person in the world of all time.<br />

Wagstaff said, “This speed is still sinking<br />

in. Breaking the NZ record was a goal, but<br />

I still want to get as fast as 250kph and<br />

above. I love the intensity and the purity<br />

of this sport, I am constantly refining my<br />

equipment and working tirelessly to perfect<br />

the tuck position. Technically speaking,<br />

everyone can ski in a straight line, which is<br />

why I love this sport.”<br />

Speed Skiing is the fastest unpowered<br />

sport on earth where the athletes remain<br />

in contact with the ground. Wagstaff<br />

has been competing in this high-speed<br />

discipline since 2017. Prior to that he was<br />

a youth Alpine Ski Racer competing in the<br />

technical events but has now found a need<br />

for speed.<br />

The Vars track where Wagstaff broke the<br />

NZ record starts at 2700m altitude, with<br />

a vertical drop of 400m over just 800m of<br />

track. There is a 400m long area at the<br />

bottom for reducing speed and stopping<br />

once they have crossed the finish line.<br />

Speed Skiing is not a sport for the faint<br />

hearted. Wagstaff explained that speed<br />

skiing is not just physical, it has a huge<br />

mental element where the higher you start,<br />

the faster you go, requiring absolute poise<br />

under pressure.<br />

“To ski really fast and do it well is very<br />

hard, and to ski really fast you have to<br />

start high which brings its own mental<br />

challenge. 30 seconds is all it takes to<br />

complete a run. Dropping from the top of<br />

the track in Vars is another world, no one<br />

wants to fall at these high speeds. If you<br />

are lucky enough to walk away from a<br />

fall, at these speeds you will still destroy<br />

your skis and outer shell of your helmet,<br />

damage your suit and you will have burns<br />

and bruising from the snow. On top of that<br />

you then have your mind to deal with.”<br />

Interview withTawny Wagstaff<br />

Age: 44<br />

From: Methven, New Zealand<br />

Home mountain? Mt Hutt<br />

Married? No<br />

Kids? No kids, there is no way I could<br />

afford to do this sport if I had kids.<br />

What you do when you are not speed<br />

skiing? I am a stone mason/bricklayer,<br />

ski racing coach at Mt Hutt (again), and<br />

mountain climber and study part-time both<br />

sports coaching and astronomy.<br />

Firstly, how did you get into speed<br />

skiing? Had a small hiatus from ski<br />

working life as a heli guide and coach and<br />

decided to focus on studying and climbing,<br />

when I came back to skiing I just did it for<br />

my own pleasure, I have always enjoyed<br />

and felt comfortable with going fast on<br />

skis but during this year I just did this<br />

more and more. Eventually, looking into a<br />

potential ski holiday overseas, combining<br />

it with some sort of speed competition, not<br />

knowing at the time about the World Cup<br />

circuit, but a quick search online was all<br />

it took. I remember back to when I was<br />

about 15 seeing an article in the skier<br />

magazine about a world record around the<br />

low 240 kph, might have been about Jeff<br />

Hamilton and I was wondering how that<br />

was possible and how insane that must be,<br />

then forgot all about it after that.<br />

How have you been involved and how<br />

has the sport developed over that time?<br />

I started speed skiing in 2017/18, and not<br />

too much has changed since this time,<br />

Covid was the biggest setback cancelling<br />

many of the competitions, in particular the<br />

main high speed events at Vars for both<br />

2020 and 2021.<br />

After the 2018 season, I had a knee injury<br />

in NZ and missed the 2019 speed ski<br />

season. I came to Europe to race in 2020<br />

halfway through the season as I didn't really<br />

have enough money saved to go earlier<br />

and I was here 2 weeks getting ready to<br />

race for the main event then covid shut us<br />

down so I back home. I returned back for<br />

2021 during covid, no guarantee that the 3<br />

small competitions that were left in Sweden<br />

would still go ahead, and not knowing if<br />

I could even get into Europe or on the<br />

plane in Auckland, let alone the quarantine<br />

situation that I was going to have to go<br />

through on returning to NZ. Uncertain times<br />

but I was not going to miss another season.<br />


"The World record is now<br />

255.500kph set at vars<br />

2023 World championships.<br />

The world record before<br />

this was set by Italian<br />

Ivan Origone in 2016<br />

at vars at a speed of<br />

254.958kph. The NZ<br />

record now that I hold<br />

is 248.610kph during the<br />

World championships at<br />

vars 2023."<br />

Tawny in action in Vars, France

“The sound of the air pushing up against me gets louder and louder,<br />

and towards the bottom will start to feel the compressions wanting<br />

to pull my body down and then usually bounce it back up again so we<br />

have to work hard to maintain the body in the tight position."<br />

My efforts worked out well and finished<br />

with 3 top 5 positions. The speed ski track<br />

in Sweden is only a 180kph track max, we<br />

love the track, but we really don’t consider<br />

this real speed skiing as such.<br />

The Covid situation made a lot more<br />

paperwork, cost a lot more, and regular<br />

tests having crap shoved up our noses<br />

at 6am before a race...not cool, still could<br />

never get used to it. But I was not going to<br />

let the covid stop me from what I have to<br />

do, I’m older so I don’t have a time to wait<br />

and at the time we had no idea how long<br />

they would keep Covid going.<br />

Where did it start? For me the speed ski<br />

started at Mt Hutt, it has the steepest and<br />

widest groomed runs in NZ. It was only a<br />

matter of time I think, before someone was<br />

going to race speed, it was lucky enough<br />

to be me, or unlucky depending on how<br />

you look at it, haha. It’s not a sport that<br />

many people want to do and I have the<br />

experience to understand why. Even just<br />

6 years ago it was a bit different skiing in<br />

NZ, there was not so many back then so it<br />

was safer to ski fast. In NZ it is harder and<br />

harder to ski fast due to safety concerns. I<br />

have always been very careful when skiing<br />

fast, it's important not to be reckless and<br />

hurt other people.<br />

Tell us about the gear? Our suits are<br />

made to be air tight, the only protection we<br />

have is a back protector. We wear spoilers<br />

behind our boots which reduce drag. These<br />

are hand made out of hard foam and have<br />

to adhere to FIS regulations, length, weight<br />

and construction. Our helmets are wide so<br />

we can cover our shoulders also adhering<br />

to FIS rules of weight and size. Skis are<br />

240cm maximum length with a side cut<br />

of 96 meters, and slightly wider then an<br />

alpine racing ski, heavy to help hold us to<br />

the ground. Shortened poles to 1 meter<br />

in length with extreme bends to fit tightly<br />

around the body.<br />

How do you go about training for this<br />

discipline? We need to do the runs<br />

around the 180 and above to train for the<br />

high speed, it’s a very hard sport to train<br />

for as we don’t ski the really high speeds<br />

very often. The best we can do around<br />

this is to prepare our bodies at the gym,<br />

mental training also plays a big part.<br />

General skiing is helpful.<br />

Talk us through a normal successful<br />

run? It starts a few hours before the run<br />

with making sure the gear is all put on<br />

correctly, it takes about 40 minutes to gear<br />

up, and usually an hour or two to prepare<br />

the skis with various waxes the night<br />

before. Then we have to carry the skis and<br />

helmet usually across a sketchy traverse<br />

to get to the lower starts wearing non slip<br />

clothing over top of our race suit, a helper<br />

will then take our access skis and clothes<br />

down to the bottom of the track. Prior to<br />

starting the run we take off the nonslip<br />

clothing above a net, usually its steep and<br />

the area sometimes covered in chopped<br />

up powder making it more awkward.<br />

OK so once its our turn we traverse onto<br />

the track, we ready ourselves to jump<br />

the 240cm long skis around. We have 1<br />

minute to start our run. The starter will give<br />

us the OK and then for me I run my eyes<br />

down the line then I go, jumping into the<br />

air and when my skis land I fold up into<br />

my position like a bird going into a dive.<br />

When I’m in position I take another look<br />

forward to check that I’m on line then its<br />

head down all the way, really only seeing<br />

about 10metres ahead at the most. I keep<br />

my eyes mostly on the groomer lines<br />

underneath me which start to become<br />

more blurry as the speed increases. The<br />

dye lines on the sides help give me an idea<br />

also of where I am mainly from peripheral<br />

vision, or if you notice they are under you<br />

then its time to do something steering<br />

wise. There's 1 to 2 key points that I focus<br />

on down the run, I wont go into detail<br />

here but its what I focus on for safety and<br />

speed. The sound of the air pushing up<br />

against me gets louder and louder, and<br />

towards the bottom will start to feel the<br />

compressions wanting to pull my body<br />

down and then usually bounce it back up<br />

again so we have to work hard to maintain<br />

the body in the tight position.<br />

We don’t get long, 15 seconds and the run<br />

is all over, we go through the 100m timing<br />

trap in just over a second and once we<br />

see the red line pass underneath its time<br />

to stand up but not too quickly as suddenly<br />

standing up at 240 will blow you off your<br />

feet. The runout is a decent length but<br />

feels short at these speeds.<br />

Once we have stabilised ourselves in a<br />

standing position we make ourselves as<br />

large as possible to catch as much air but<br />

only for a for seconds, by this stage our<br />

speed has dropped to about 180 and we<br />

then make our first turn being very careful,<br />

and using as mush of the width of the<br />

runout as possible but also allowing some<br />

room for redundancy if something were to<br />

go wrong. By the time we finish the first<br />

turn the speed drops to just above a 100,<br />

then we make the 2nd turn which will finish<br />

us up right towards the end of the runout.<br />

It all has to be well timed and care taken.<br />

The slowing down process is a big deal.<br />

Going from those speeds and slowing up<br />

safely with only a set of skis as breaks<br />

takes a bit of getting use to. But I would<br />

rather have the skis to slow me down then<br />

being on my ass.<br />

The runs that we consider stable and nice<br />

usually are the slower ones, the ones<br />

where we are more uncontrolled usually<br />

turn out to be faster...Like with many<br />

sports, we have to put ourselves out of the<br />

comfort zone if we want to do well.<br />

What speeds do you get up to? During the<br />

Would cup circuit speeds are limited to about<br />

230kph (vars), although most of the time the<br />

tracks at other locations are below 200kph.<br />

So anywhere between 160-230kph...<br />

The World record is now 255.500kph set<br />

at vars 2023 World championships. The<br />

world record before this was set by Italian<br />

Ivan Origone set in 2016 at vars at a speed<br />

of 254.958kph. The NZ record now that<br />

I hold is 248.610kph during the World<br />

championships at vars 2023.<br />

The NZ record before this was 232kph held<br />

by Chris Gebbie set at a different location<br />

back in 2005, at the time the current world<br />

record was 250.7kph (maybe don’t put that<br />

in but you can see the difference of where<br />

the kiwis once stood amongst the top guys)<br />

The current world record for women was<br />

set in 2016 by Italian Valentina Greggio at<br />

247.083kph. There was no world record<br />

from the women this year. The best speed<br />


from the ladies this year was 244kph by<br />

Swedish Britta Buckland which was enough<br />

to give her the Swedish ladies speed record<br />

and Valentina finished with a speed of<br />

244kph. It's interesting that the women were<br />

a little off the WR this year compared to the<br />

men, I think this may have been because<br />

of the snow condition. The best conditions<br />

is well transformed snow, that is old snow,<br />

and this year the conditions were not quite<br />

there, There is a lot more competition<br />

amongst the men also so this constant<br />

pushing between the athletes has also<br />

increased the speed difference between the<br />

men and the ladies.<br />

What happens when it goes wrong?<br />

If you are lucky not to break anything in<br />

your body you will still have friction burns<br />

and bruising...Most people will hurt their<br />

shoulders or knees. Your skis usually<br />

explode when they hit the snow from end<br />

to end, your suit can get ripped, the outer<br />

shell of the helmet detaches from the inner<br />

protective helmet, usually also cracks and<br />

needs work to fix. Also poles tend to break<br />

as well, sometimes damage to the fairings<br />

we wear underneath the suit behind our<br />

boots. Then you will have your mind to<br />

deal with. Some people will take weeks,<br />

months to recover, some people never do.<br />

Then there is the odd animal that will get<br />

back up and be on his feet ready to go the<br />

next day<br />

Have you had any major accidents?<br />

I have not crashed in speed skiing yet.<br />

I know its coming for me at some point.<br />

The closer you want to get to the leader<br />

the tighter the tuck has to be, the tighter<br />

the tuck the less travel the legs will have<br />

meaning less ability to absorb the hollow<br />

and bumps. The way I play it is 2 steps<br />

forward one back. But there will come a<br />

time, but not today.<br />

I have had two previous knee injuries both<br />

from skiing. A knee basically means 1.5 to<br />

2 years off from being back in form.<br />

How does New Zealand rank in the<br />

world? In the past not so great, I don’t<br />

mean to offend anyone that has speed<br />

skied from NZ before me (maybe don’t<br />

put that down) . When I started, due to my<br />

racing background in alpine and my skill<br />

with my hands I was able to build up some<br />

really nice gear as aerodynamics is so<br />

important. We can easily look at a speed<br />

skier and tell from what they are wearing<br />

if they are fast or not. I still have a lot of<br />

work to do to catch the very top guys but<br />

from my entry into the speed ski game I<br />

have produced some good results for NZ.<br />

Some notable results below<br />

• 2018, 4th and 2 x 5th place in Canada<br />

World Cup<br />

• 2021, 4th and 2 x 5th place in Sweden<br />

World Cup<br />

• 2022, 4th place at Sweden World Cup<br />

• 2023, 6th at the World<br />

Championships, and 4th in the World<br />

Cup, both at vars<br />

• 2023, broke the NZ record 4 times in<br />

a row, something that will never ever<br />

happen again in the future of speed<br />

skiing.<br />

NZ is now ranked 6th fastest country in the<br />

world ever. In order...France, Italy, Austria,<br />

Switzerland, Finland then NZ.<br />

I am the 11th fastest person in the history<br />

of speed skiing ever and the fastest<br />

person outside of Europe just beating the<br />

Unites states and Sweden to name a few.<br />

Previous to this season I was the 158th<br />

fastest at a speed of 219.646kph<br />

Is the world racing circuit a close-knit<br />

group or are there major rivalries?<br />

Mostly tight knit, we all know the risks so<br />

we are always happy for each when we<br />

have good clean runs and stoked when<br />

someone pulls off a near crash. There<br />

is usually a crash at each event but not<br />

always, it can happen anytime so I think it<br />

keeps us humble and respectful. There is<br />

a bit of rivalry between some of the French<br />

team for various reasons, its a good thing<br />

my French kind of sucks as it keeps me<br />

out of it as I spend a lot time training with<br />

the rouge French skier Simon Billy, the<br />

current record holder. There's the usual<br />

Italian rivalry, not the most out going types<br />

along with the Austrians, you have to earn<br />

there respect.<br />

Will speed skiing ever be an Olympic<br />

event?Yes I believe it will be its just a<br />

matter of when. At the moment there<br />

is a chance you may see it in the 2026<br />

Olympics, watch this space.<br />

Someone who knows you well – how<br />

would they describe you? Driven, I don’t<br />

tend to ask to much more haha. Maybe a<br />

bit stubborn, love sleeping.<br />

If you knew then what you know now<br />

what would you tell your younger self?<br />

To start speed skiing in my 20's and<br />

believe in yourself more than ever and<br />

make the most of your time with a type of<br />

urgency, make it happen, dream bigger.<br />

Aim for the stars and you may just land on<br />

the moon.<br />

Best place in the world to speed ski.<br />

Why? Vars, It’s the only current Speed<br />

ski track that is over 200kph, it’s the track<br />

I call home. Simon’s dad (Phillipe Billy)<br />

made this track, and has kept it going for<br />

many years. He made a world record here<br />

in 1993, and now the World record is back<br />

home, like father like son.<br />

What does the future hold? I will<br />

continue speed skiing for at least another<br />

3-5 years, chasing the now current world<br />

record of 255.500 kph. In the process I will<br />

break the NZ record a few more times. As<br />

for the World Cup circuit goes, I will get<br />

onto that podium and perhaps fly the NZ<br />

flag at the opening ceremony of the 2026<br />

Olympics. Also making it into space one<br />

day, low earth orbit will be fine, but the<br />

moon will be better.<br />

A question we get a lot about extreme<br />

sports...As the sport evolves and the<br />

speed gets faster and faster and the<br />

risks become greater will there comes a<br />

point where riders say that enough, the<br />

risks are too high or will it naturally find<br />

its own level? What we have with speed<br />

skiing is we need higher and longer tracks<br />

to go faster. At this stage there really is no<br />

limit to speed skiing, we will risk everything<br />

to go faster.<br />

As with all sports I am sure sponsors<br />

play a major part are there any you<br />

would like to thank. I have no sponsors,<br />

but I would like to give many thanks to the<br />

Billy's for if it was not for this family, I would<br />

not be skiing at 248kph.<br />

“NZ is now ranked 6th fastest country in the world ever. I am the<br />

11th fastest person in the history of speed skiing ever and the<br />

fastest person outside of Europe just beating the Unites States<br />

and Sweden to name a few. Previous to this season I was the 158th<br />

fastest at a speed of 219.646kph"<br />


Jess Blewitt races at Red Bull Fox Hunt 2023 in Wanaka, New Zealand on February 11, 2023 // Henry Jaine / Red Bull Content Pool<br />


WANAKA, NZ<br />

Downhill mountain bike event Red Bull<br />

Foxhunt took place for the first time in<br />

New Zealand at Cardrona, Wanaka on<br />

Saturday, 11 February this year with 100<br />

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enduro race.<br />

The internationally renowned race saw<br />

Red Bull athletes and world-leading<br />

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followed by Gareth Burgees and Sam<br />

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Macdonald and Remy Morton.<br />

While the foxes were overtaken, Brook<br />

Macdonald was buzzing after the race:<br />

‘’Red Bull Foxhunt was epic. It was<br />

awesome to go head-to-head against<br />

some of New Zealand’s best and the<br />

atmosphere was next-level. Next year I’ll<br />

be gunning to take first place.’’<br />


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functionality.<br />


bear cottage Possum Fur Merino Wool<br />

Knitwear Gloves $29.00<br />

A unique and luxurious blend<br />

of NZ possum fur and pure NZ<br />

merino lambswool. 35% Possum<br />

Fur, 55% Merino Lambswool,<br />

10% Mulberry Silk.<br />


outdoor research Arete II GORE-TEX<br />

Gloves $189.99<br />

Modular insulated GORE-TEX® protection with<br />

warm and wicking removable merino wool liners.<br />

Updated with a leather palm, and complete with<br />

a waterproof insert.<br />


smartwool Kids Winter Sport<br />

Full Cushion Ski Day $40.00<br />

Merino socks featuring<br />

fill cushion and a flat knit<br />

toe seam for additional<br />

comfort. Keeping your<br />

little ones warm all day.<br />


bear cottage Possum Merino Wool<br />

Trekking Socks $38.00<br />

50% Merino Wool, 40% Possum<br />

Fur, 10% Nylon/Lycra Short calf<br />

length | Energy bands. Terry loop<br />

pile foot to catch and retain the<br />

body heat escaping from your<br />

body.Specially designed heel and<br />

toe, eliminating any bulky fabric<br />

around the toe and heel areas.<br />


smartwool Women’s SKI Full<br />

Cushion $60.00<br />

Natural comfort and<br />

performance of Merino<br />

wool. Prioritising<br />

breathability, durability<br />

and fit.<br />


smartwool Women’s<br />

Snowboard Targeted Cushion<br />

$55.00<br />

Featuring our most<br />

advanced Indestructawool<br />

technology for enhanced<br />

durability and 4 Degree<br />

elite fit system for an<br />

unmatched performance fit.<br />


smartwool Kids Ski Light<br />

Cushion $40.00<br />

Keep your little ones warm<br />

and cosy all day on the<br />

slops. With the warmth<br />

of Merino wool, even the<br />

smallest skiers can go far<br />

and feel good.<br />


smartwool Mens Ski Zero<br />

Cushion $55.00<br />

No cushion. All performance.<br />

Our thinnest Merino socks.<br />

Offering you the all day<br />

comfort you need to stay out<br />

longer.<br />


smartwool Mens Ski Targeted<br />

Cushion $55.00<br />

Targeted cushioning and<br />

mesh zones placed for<br />

maximum comfort and<br />

breathability in any boot.<br />

Natural performance of<br />

Merino wool.<br />


smartwool Mens Ski Full<br />

Cushion $60.00<br />

For maximum cushioning<br />

this pair of Merino wool<br />

socks help keep things<br />

warm, but breathable.<br />


smartwool Women’s Ski Zero<br />

Cushion Print $55.00<br />

The perfect mix of design<br />

and performance. Featuring<br />

our most advanced<br />

Indestructawool technology<br />

for enhanced durability.<br />



Unmatched<br />

quality & design<br />

100% pure, natural wool<br />

indoor and outdoor slippers<br />

Ultimate comfort since 1993<br />

glerups.co.nz<br />

Find us online and at a stockist near you

kathmandu Valorous Pack – 38L<br />

$299.98<br />

Rejuvenate in the outdoors<br />

with a modern hiking pack.<br />

Our versatile 38 litre Valorous<br />

Pack is designed to support<br />

you on multiday rambles and<br />

city escapes. The Crossflow<br />

AirXF harness sits slightly off<br />

your back, so expect comfy<br />

cushioning and cooling air flow.<br />


kathmandu Hybrid Trolley v5 - 50L<br />

$349.98<br />

Travel can be unpredictable,<br />

so we've updated our Hybrid<br />

Trolley range to make sure<br />

your luggage isn't. This 50-litre<br />

rolled bag v5 is lighter than ever<br />

and converts into a backpack<br />

via a stashable harness. The<br />

telescopic mono-handle is<br />

easy to slide in and out while<br />

the lockable zips keep your<br />

valuables safe.<br />


Kiwi Camping Boost LED Light with<br />

Power Bank $89.99<br />

Bright LED light with power<br />

bank to illuminate your tent<br />

and charge devices on the<br />

go. Features 11 light modes<br />

including SOS signal, built-in<br />

magnets and hanging hook.<br />


kiwi camping Mamaku Pro -5<br />

°C Sleeping Bag t $129.00<br />

Experience ultimate<br />

warmth in cold temps<br />

with the Mamaku Pro<br />

-5°C. Lightweight,<br />

compact design with<br />

silvertherm lining for<br />

enhanced heat retention.<br />

Perfect for outdoor<br />

adventures.<br />


CO.NZ<br />

Gasmate Turbo Butane Stove<br />

& Pot Set $149.00<br />

For quick boiling when<br />

you need it! A super<br />

lightweight aluminium<br />

stove with quick boil<br />

technology, piezo ignition<br />

and accessories all<br />

packaged in a handy<br />

mesh carry bag.<br />


Gasmate Portable Diesel<br />

Heater $899.00<br />

Never be cold camping<br />

again with Gasmate's<br />

Portable Diesel Heater.<br />

Stay warm on-the-go with<br />

remote control operation,<br />

compact design, and<br />

adjustable temperature<br />

settings for your outdoor<br />

adventures<br />


Kiwi Camping Weka 2 Hiker Tent $339.00<br />

Kiwi Camping's most popular hiker<br />

tent with double-sided entry, sturdy<br />

vestibules, and a user-friendly design.<br />

With a fly that handles rain and<br />

snow, the Weka 2 is perfect for hiking<br />

adventures.<br />


Kiwi camping Tuatara Soft Shell Compact Rooftop Tent $1999.00<br />

Discover New Zealand's original BLACKOUT rooftop<br />

tent, weighing only 49.5kgs. Compact and quick to set<br />

up in under 2 minutes. Explore more at Kiwi Camping<br />



escueme PLB1 $589.98<br />

Wherever you are, at sea, on land,<br />

the rescueME PLB1 provides the<br />

reassurance that global emergency<br />

services can be alerted by the press of<br />

a button.<br />

The rescueMe PLB1 can be operated<br />

with a single hand in even the most<br />

challenging situations. A simple springloaded<br />

flap covers the activation button<br />

preventing inadvertent use. rescueME<br />

PLB1 works with the only officially<br />

recognised worldwide dedicated search<br />

and rescue satellite network (operated<br />

by Cospas Sarsat). As this is funded by<br />

governments there are NO CHARGES<br />

to use this service.<br />

Available through all leading sports and<br />

recreation retailers and online.<br />


KEA STASH $60.00 (GO) - $80.00 (XL)<br />

KEA STASH is the Leak free,<br />

smell free, trash compacting bag.<br />

Available in 2 sizes “GO” & “XL”<br />

so you can say goodbye to messy,<br />

bulky trash wherever you are.<br />


PROVEN<br />


PLB1<br />

Personal<br />

Locator<br />

Beacon<br />

The World’s<br />

smallest PLB<br />

30% (typ) smaller 7 year battery life<br />

KEA lumen $100.00<br />

KEA LUMEN is the powerful,<br />

durable & versatile flashlight<br />

to ensure that you’re never<br />

left in the dark.<br />


local dehy hummus $8.00<br />

Sundried Tomato and Red<br />

Pepper, also available in<br />

Beetroot and Zesty Lemon.<br />

Perfect for lunches on the trail.<br />

Freeze dried. Vegan. Home<br />

compostable packaging.<br />



Inspired by the innovative,<br />

everchanging drinks scene,<br />

we instinctively knew how a<br />

drop of Jägermeister and a<br />

backbeat of cold brew coffee<br />

could transform any night. The<br />

enviable result? A brand-new<br />


BREW COFFEE. A unique<br />

fusion of JÄGERMEISTER’s 56<br />

botanicals and intense cold brew<br />

coffee.<br />



A punchy peppery vegan<br />

twist on a Southern American<br />

classic! Refuel after a day's<br />

adventuring. Vegan, totally<br />

delicious, in home compostable<br />

packaging.<br />


66 channel GPS<br />

– Fast accurate positioning<br />

EPIRB1<br />

Essential<br />

for safe<br />

boating<br />

The World’s Most<br />

Compact Emergency<br />

Position Indicating<br />

Radio Beacon<br />

30% (typ) smaller 10 year battery life<br />

Shackleton Blended Malt Scotch<br />

Born from <strong>Adventure</strong>: Shackleton<br />

Blended Malt Scotch is based on<br />

the spirit supplied to the 1907 British<br />

Antarctic Expedition, expertly crafted<br />

using a selection of the finest Highland<br />

Single Malt Scotch Whiskies. Available<br />

at various Liquor Retailers .<br />


5 year warranty 406-link via<br />

satellite to<br />

Emergency Services<br />

LAB0684<br />



Like a ‘perfect storm’, we have seen a dramatic growth and<br />

development in online stores over the past 5 years.<br />

We are dedicating these pages to our client’s online stores; some<br />

you will be able to buy from, some you will be able drool over. Buy,<br />

compare, research and prepare, these online stores are a great way to<br />

feed your adventure addiction.<br />

Never have a dead phone<br />

again! Because now you can<br />

charge straight from the Sun<br />

with SunSaver. Perfect for<br />

that week-long hike, day at<br />

the beach, or back-up for any<br />

emergency. Check us out at:<br />

www.sunsaver.co.nz<br />

Building versatile and reliable gear so you<br />

can adventure with purpose.<br />

www.keaoutdoors.com<br />

Temerature. Taste. Transport.<br />

Hydroflask, more than just a water bottle.<br />

www.hydroflask.co.nz<br />

The place to go for all the gear you need whether you're skiing,<br />

snowboarding, hiking, biking or just exploring.<br />

www.thealpinecentre.co.nz<br />

Gear up in a wide selection of durable, multifunctional<br />

outdoor clothing & gear. Free Returns. Free Shipping.<br />

www.patagonia.co.nz<br />

Stocking an extensive range<br />

of global outdoor adventure<br />

brands for your next big<br />

adventure. See them for travel,<br />

tramping, trekking, alpine and<br />

lifestyle clothing and gear.<br />

www.outfittersstore.nz<br />

Specialists in the sale of Outdoor Camping Equipment, RV,<br />

Tramping & Travel Gear. Camping Tents, <strong>Adventure</strong> Tents,<br />

Packs, Sleeping Bags and more.<br />

www.equipoutdoors.co.nz<br />

Marine and industrial supply story<br />

www.lusty-blundell.co.nz<br />

Our very own online store where<br />

you will find hard goods to keep you<br />

equipped for any adventure.<br />


Waterfront accommodation on Nydia Track, Marlborough, NZ<br />

www.onthetracklodge.nz<br />

Meals bursting with flavour, combined with home compostable<br />

packaging, means you really can have it all in the mountains.<br />

Designed by ‘foodies’ for maximum plant-based deliciousness<br />

and wrapped in earth positive, lightweight, packable pouches.<br />

www.localdehy.co.nz<br />

Bivouac Outdoor stock the latest in quality outdoor<br />

clothing, footwear and equipment from the best<br />

brands across New Zealand & the globe.<br />

www.bivouac.co.nz<br />

Shop for the widest range of Merrell footwear, apparel<br />

& accessories across hiking, trail running, sandals &<br />

casual styles. Free shipping for a limited time.<br />

www.merrell.co.nz<br />

Kathmandu offers a premium range of outdoor<br />

clothing, footwear, accessories and gear for men,<br />

women and kids.<br />

www.kathmandu.co.nz<br />

This small, friendly family-run company is based in Lake<br />

Tekapo, New Zealand, specializing in guided outdoor<br />

adventures throughout New Zealand's Southern Alps.<br />

www.alpinerecreation.com<br />

www.glerups.co.nz<br />

glerups shoes, slippers<br />

and boots are known for<br />

their exceptional comfort<br />

and unique design.<br />

Over the years we have<br />

perfected the wool mix<br />

by blending Gotland<br />

wool with quality wool<br />

from New Zealand<br />

farmers.<br />

Fast nourishing freeze dried food for adventurers.<br />

www.backcountrycuisine.co.nz<br />

Your adventure travel specialists, with over 20 years<br />

experience! They live what they sell.<br />

www.madabouttravel.co.nz<br />

Supplying tents and<br />

camping gear to Kiwis<br />

for over 30 years, Kiwi<br />

Camping are proud to<br />

be recognised as one of<br />

the most trusted outdoor<br />

brands in New Zealand.<br />

www.kiwicamping.co.nz<br />

NZ world class climbing centre.<br />

Your climbing experience is at<br />

the heart of what they do. They<br />

provide trained and competent<br />

professionals that are psyched<br />

on climbing and passionate<br />

about supporting others.<br />

www.northenrocks.co.nz<br />

<strong>Adventure</strong> comes in layers, and Smartwool have your<br />

every adventure covered with their range of Merino wool<br />

clothing, designed to keep you comfortable and confident<br />

when heading outdoors.<br />


u t a h<br />



By Phil Clark - Mad about Travel<br />

Mention Utah and images of mountains, prairies<br />

and snow come to mind but we discovered it is<br />

so much more!<br />

Yes, Salt Lake City has the majestic Salt Lake<br />

Temple and 15 awesome ski resorts, but the<br />

state also offers incredible scenery, diverse<br />

history, fantastic food and some of the most<br />

epic landscapes I’ve ever experienced.<br />

Our trip commenced in late March at the end of<br />

the ski season and we planned some mountain<br />

biking, hiking as well as a bit of skiing (if we<br />

were lucky to get enough snow).<br />

It turned out to be one of the best snow years in<br />

history, so we made the most of the conditions<br />

by heading up to Park City for our first day.<br />

Formerly two separate ski resorts (Park City<br />

Mountain and The Canyons) which were<br />

linked by a gondola in 2015 making the largest<br />

resort in The USA at 2954 hectares. Park City<br />

Mountain has a mix of long cruisers on the Park<br />

City Village side and steep fall line skiing on<br />

The Canyons Village side. Stunning chalets and<br />

mountain mansions line the sides of the runs<br />

giving us a clue of where the beautiful people<br />

live. The resorts are well laid out and navigation<br />

around this huge resort is incredibly intuitive<br />

At the end of the day, we headed off on the<br />

three hour drive down to Bryce Canyon. This<br />

geological marvel is the start of a series of<br />

giant steps which trail from Bryce Canyon to<br />

the Grand Canyon and encompass, several<br />

National parks including Bryce Canyon, The<br />

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument<br />

and Zion. We spent a week exploring the<br />

national parks in this area.<br />

On the morning of day two of our trip we woke<br />

up to fresh pristine snow. As we drove into<br />

Bryce Canyon, we were wondering what this<br />

staircase thing was all about. Then it hit us, as<br />

we walked up to the edge of the first precipice<br />

the earth dropped away from us in a series of<br />

pink pinnacles and spires. Like a cathedral the<br />

snow-covered landscape had a quiet grandeur.

Above: Monument Valley, Image by Phil Clark - Mad about Travel<br />

Previous page: Bryce Canyon, image by Sean Lee<br />

After a day of exploring the numerous<br />

trails of Bryce Canyon National Park<br />

it was still snowing and we decided to<br />

move on to Zion National Park. The<br />

prairie and farmland were studded with<br />

canyons and the odd red rock mountain<br />

and archway. Suddenly we arrived at<br />

Zion and the landscape opened before<br />

our eyes. It started with red rock, orange<br />

hoodoo spires and white checker-board<br />

mesa’s as we weaved our way into<br />

the park. The highlight was exiting the<br />

two-kilometer Zion - Mt Carmel Tunnel,<br />

which took our breath away as we as<br />

we gazed at the 2185m Sentinel and the<br />

2350m East temple soaring above us.<br />

The rest of the day was spent exploring<br />

the visitors centre and the scenic drive<br />

up to the Temple of Sinawava, taking<br />

in the mountains with names like, The<br />

Court of the Patriarchs, West Temple,<br />

The Altar of Sacrifice, Mountain of<br />

Mystery and the Great White Throne<br />

climbing a thousand meters out of the<br />

valley floor.<br />

Completely buzzing from our experience<br />

at Zion we headed to nearby Kanab to<br />

fuel up at “Escobars” the local Mexican<br />

restaurant to hunt out a chimichanga<br />

and a Corona.<br />

Day 4 of our trip started with another 10<br />

cm of snow sitting on our car. Today we<br />

were due to explore the pink and red<br />

Peak A Boo Slot Canyon followed by a<br />

drive out to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes<br />

State Park where you can ride the<br />

sand dunes on boogie boards. Neither<br />

disappointed!<br />

From Kanab we headed south to the<br />

bottom of the Grand Staircase National<br />

Monument. Crossing into Arizona we<br />

stopped at the Wahweap Overlook and<br />

took in the Grand Staircase to the north<br />

and the 300km long Lake Powell to the<br />

south, before driving across 220m high,<br />

Glen Canyon dam. When they build stuff<br />

in the USA they build it BIG!<br />

From Arizona we crossed back into Utah<br />

and headed for Monument Valley. This<br />

area is the classic wild west landscape<br />

of flat top mesa’s, dust devils, First<br />

Nations people and red spires. As we<br />

departed on our way to Moab, we drove<br />

up the iconic Forrest Gump Highway<br />

made famous by the classic movie<br />

scene.<br />

Halchita, Mexican Hat, Bluff, White<br />

Mesa and Spanish Valley led us through<br />

more epic scenery back up the staircase<br />

to Moab as it started snowing again.<br />

Moab is known as the mountain bike<br />

capital of Utah and with bike racks<br />

appearing on every other car we felt<br />

right at home in this funky town.<br />

Moab is amazing, bike shops outnumber<br />

supermarkets and the trail heads are<br />

well signposted with excellent map<br />

stations and great facilities.<br />

Trail heads like, Navajo Rocks, Dead<br />

Horse Point, Horsethief, Klondike<br />

Bluff and Klonzo all bring up images<br />

of smooth pink, orange rock drops,<br />

epic single track and long downhills.<br />

Camping in sub-zero temperatures is<br />

normal at Moab. Bike hire and shuttles<br />

to the top of long downhills can be<br />

easily arranged at one of the many well<br />

equipped bike shops. Whether you like<br />

Santa Cruz, Scott or Cannondale you<br />

will find a shop which caters to your<br />

taste in steed in Moab. Pre ride coffee at<br />

Moab Coffee roasters was the best we<br />

found in the USA and post ride you will<br />

find margaritas and burritos at “Fiesta”<br />

Mexican restaurant.<br />

If you haven’t had your fill of canyons<br />

and mountains yet, Arches National<br />

Park is yet another beautiful park with<br />

more hoodoo’s, spire and arches. Get<br />

there early as there was a queue to<br />

drive in even on a weekday.<br />

Finally, it was time to head back to Salt<br />

Lake City to drop the car and move<br />

to the next part of our trip. Another<br />

stunning drive led through the Price<br />

Canyon along the Grand Army of the<br />

Republic highway where wild deer could<br />

be seen right on the side of the highway.<br />

Utah truly has the most incredible mix of<br />

scenery, activities, and culture to keep<br />

anyone busy. We only discovered a<br />

small part of this incredible state! But we<br />

will be back!<br />


Experts at adventure travel since 2000<br />

Your mountain bike travel specialists, with over<br />

20 years experience ensures you have a fantastic<br />

trip, crafted by people who really care.<br />

Image by Greg Rosenke<br />

New Zealand owned and operated<br />

"We live what we sell"<br />

0800 623 872<br />

info@madabouttravel.co.nz<br />


v a n u a t u<br />

How To Get There<br />

Fly into Port Vila from Auckland.<br />

From Port Vila you can fly directly<br />

to Ambrym. If you’re in Santo or<br />

Craig Cove, there are flights leaving<br />

for Ambrym from there as well. To<br />

get the best up-to-date information,<br />

check out the schedules on:<br />

www.airvanuatu.com.<br />


What To Bring<br />

• Hiking boots and walking poles:<br />

the hike up Benbow is long, and you<br />

want to be comfortable!<br />

• Pack snacks! Especially for the<br />

hike. If you’re a sugar fiend or rely on<br />

morning and afternoon tea to get you<br />

through the day, you’ll be grateful to<br />

have a few goodies up your sleeve<br />

during the long days of exploring.<br />

• Cash to buy hand-carved goods<br />

from the remote villages.<br />

The volcanic island of Ambrym, with<br />

its old lava flow, unfathomably deep<br />

craters, and friendly dancers, will take<br />

your breath away, right from when you<br />

fly in over Benbow Volcano.<br />

Vanuatu’s outer island Ambrym, located<br />

in Malampa Province in the centre of the<br />

Vanuatu archipelago, has a population<br />

of just over 7,000 and speaks several<br />

languages: North Ambrym language in<br />

the north, Southeast Ambrym language<br />

in the southeast, Daakaka in the south,<br />

Lonwolwol in the west, and Port Vato<br />

in the southwest. This island’s tropical<br />

vegetation and black sand is iconic and<br />

will be sure to delight as you explore<br />

the landscape in the back of a Ute or by<br />

foot.<br />

Things to do and top attractions in Ambrym<br />

Climb to the Rim of Benbow Volcano<br />

The sea of black lava plains and jagged volcanic rocks that extend from the base of<br />

Benbow volcano right to its rim, is the terrain that calls keen adventurers across the<br />

world. Benbow was once famous for its bubbling lava lake and the deep red glow<br />

visible after dark from grand distances. However, due to an earthquake in December<br />

2018 which displaced hundreds of locals, the bubbling lake can no longer be seen.<br />

But don’t let this stop you! We promise that the spectacular views from Benbow and<br />

the neighbouring volcanoes will take your breath away. This two-day hike across<br />

volcanic soil starts with a 3-4 hour climb up to the campsite, where you’ll dump your<br />

bags, before the four hour round trip up the volcano. You’ll camp the night, and the<br />

following day will make your way back down the mountain. Your walking poles will<br />

come in handy as you’ll be feeling it in your knees!<br />

Kayak across Lonwok Lake crater<br />

The Lonwok Lake Crater is so deep you could put a cruise ship right in the middle<br />

and it would float. After a volcanic eruption in 1913 that swallowed the local<br />

Presbyterian hospital, this crater now serves as a place to swim and kayak. You’ll<br />

have to jump on a short boat ride to get there and pay an entry fee (every piece of<br />

land is owned by someone in Vanuatu!), but the landowner will welcome you with<br />

open arms.<br />

Drink at the local kava bar<br />

Kava, a ceremonial drink is made from the root of the kava plant. Each island in<br />

Vanuatu (and sometimes, each village!) has slightly different kastom practices when<br />

it comes to consuming kava. Make sure you stop by the roadside kava bars (you’ll<br />

recognise them by the little light on the roadside), have a couple of shells and ask<br />

about how they prepare their kava. Be careful though, kava has soporific effects and<br />

too much can leave you feeling hazy. Kava is generally served around sunset, and<br />

it pays to go early to get freshly prepared kava. If you’re staying at the Ocean Blue<br />

Bungalows on Ambrym, we recommend the kava bar just around the corner.<br />

Experience the Fanla Rom dance and black magic tour<br />

Take a short boat trip to Ranon on Pentecost Island to experience the sacred<br />

Fanla Rom Dance and Black Magic Tour. The ‘Rom’, or ‘masked’ dance is known<br />

for its detailed masks, elaborate costumes, and lively music. Performed by special<br />

sorcerers, this dance gives you a unique insight into the magic that’s stitched into the<br />

hands of local men.<br />

For more information on an Ambryn <strong>Adventure</strong> contact the following reputable<br />

operators or www.vanuatu.travel/nz/3-days-on-ambrym-island<br />

Vanuatu Ecotours – www.vanuatuecotours.com<br />

Wrecks to Rainforest – www.wreckstorainforest.com<br />


9.30am Mt Yasur on Tanna Island<br />

Hiking Diving Culture<br />

Volcanos<br />

Go explore at vanuatu.travel

f i j i<br />

FIJI<br />



Brimming with vibrant coral reefs and peaceful lagoons, Fiji is a dream destination for ocean<br />

lovers. Whether you’re snorkelling with manta rays, surfing epic waves or setting off on a seakayaking<br />

safari, there’s heaps of fun things to do both on and below the water.<br />

Snorkelling<br />

For an extra-special snorkelling experience, there’s swimming with reef sharks near Kuata<br />

island in the Yasawa Island or gliding beside majestic manta rays during the season (May to<br />

October) in Wakaya, Kadavu and the Yasawa Islands.<br />

Scuba diving<br />

If you’re eager to explore deeper, scuba diving is your ticket to adventure! Many resorts boast<br />

on-site dive shops that offer discovery dives (ideal for newbies) and full dive courses for anyone<br />

10 years and up – making it a fantastic family activity for older kids. Along with the colourful<br />

coral, abundant sea life and great visibility, Fiji is the ultimate destination for scuba diving.<br />

Surfing<br />

With spots ranging from sheltered breaks for newbies through to world-class waves that pro<br />

surfers plan entire trips around, Fiji is a true surf paradise. You’ll probably find seasoned surfers<br />

daydreaming about Cloudbreak – a fearsome left reef break that comes alive with a big swell.<br />

If you’re just starting out or want to hone your skills, surf schools like Fiji Surf Co will get you<br />

gliding on beginner-friendly breaks in no time.<br />

Fishing<br />

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of reeling in a prize catch. If you want to try your luck at<br />

hooking a big one, game fishing charters specialise in deep water fishing to find you fish like<br />

marlin, sailfish, tuna, wahoo, giant trevally and mahimahi. Some fish are ‘catch and release’<br />

only due to sustainable fishing regulations, and some you’ll be able to take back to your resort<br />

to have cooked for your lunch or dinner. Start planning your dream fishing holiday with expert<br />

anglers like Immersion Fiji (Savusavu) and Hidden Gem Fiji (Nadi/Mamanuca Islands)<br />


Sea kayaking<br />

With 1129 kilometres of coastline, it’s no surprise that sea<br />

kayaking is a popular way to explore the country. For a true offgrid<br />

adventure, consider signing up for a sea kayaking safari,<br />

where you’ll paddle between remote bays, visit authentic local<br />

villages and discover secluded bays and hidden beaches. Check<br />

out Southern Sea Ventures in the Yasawas for self-contained<br />

camping sea kayak safaris or go with Tamarillo Active Travel in<br />

Kadavu for epic island-hopping itineraries with a mixture of small<br />

eco-resorts and village homestays.<br />

.<br />

Warning…with so many islands and options to explore, it might be<br />

hard just picking one.<br />


Beautiful Samoa awaits you, and we are welcoming our international aiga<br />

with open arms! Experience Samoa’s untouched beauty, unique cultural<br />

experiences and rich heritage. Self drive, bike or stroll through the wonders<br />

that make this island life one to cherish just like the locals do.<br />


n e w c a l e d o n i a<br />

c a l e d o n i a<br />




The winter is well and truly here and while there are a lot<br />

of fun activities to experience during the colder months<br />

in New Zealand, sometimes all you want to do is to go<br />

somewhere warm to keep the pulse pumping.<br />

New Caledonia might seem like just another beach<br />

holiday destination to the untrained eye. While the<br />

destination is the perfect next-door option for a chill<br />

holiday during the summer months, there are about<br />

a million reasons why it’s the perfect active holiday<br />

destination during the winter months, in particular<br />

between June and September.<br />

During these months, the temperature is still warm<br />

but the humidity is much lower, which means you can<br />

enjoy getting active and taking part in a variety of<br />

outdoor activities more comfortably than at the height<br />

of summer. The winter months, also known as the dry<br />

season offer the ultimate climate for hiking, biking and<br />

other on-land activities as it typically rains less and has<br />

a milder temperature than during the wet seasons. The<br />

temperatures during the winter range from the coldest of<br />

17ºC to the highest of 30ºC.<br />

Located less than 3 hours from Auckland, New<br />

Caledonia offers a mix of ocean encounters in the world’s<br />

largest lagoon, on-land activities and thrilling skyward<br />

adventures.<br />

Hiking<br />

New Caledonia is a surprising playground for hikers as it’s home to<br />

over 500 km of marked trails labelled by the French Federation of<br />

Hiking (FFRP). The vast destination isn’t overloaded with tourists<br />

meaning you can hike in large, open spaces away from the crowds.<br />

It’s also one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet, with many<br />

endemic plants and animals making it a great spot to discover<br />

species you’ve never seen before. It has a variety of landscapes too,<br />

ranging from a red earth desert in the south, to dense tropical forests<br />

in the east, dry golden plains in the west and a mountain chain<br />

running from north to south.<br />

If you’re exploring the mountain range, make sure to pack some<br />

warmer clothing as the temperatures can drop as low as zero at<br />

night. Chilly nights apart, the cool season is the ideal period for<br />

setting off to hike along the signposted trails that crisscross the vast<br />

nature reserves in both the North and South Provinces of the Main<br />

Island.<br />

Check out trails such as the Mont Panie climb which will take you<br />

through the northern province of the mainland, visiting tribal areas,<br />

waterfalls and swimming holes. The end of the track is a hut at the<br />

top of the 1,629m high mountain where you can rest overnight before<br />

continuing on your journey. Closer to the capital there’s another great<br />

mountain trek up Mont Dore which will treat trekkers with a beautiful<br />

panoramic view of Noumea, the lagoon and the mountains of the<br />

south.<br />

Those wanting to challenge themselves have the opportunity to take<br />

on the Grand Randonnée ® NC1 Nord and Sud trails which are an<br />

extension of the French long distant trails. The Sud route will take<br />

you through the contrasting landscapes of the Great South with its<br />

red-earth deserts, lakes and rivers, through the Blue River Provincial<br />

Park, a drowned forest and old mining trails. In contrast, the Nord<br />

route will bring you close to the green wilderness of the east coast,<br />

through the forests and many traditional Kanak villages where you<br />

can try the traditional Bougna dish.<br />

Sentier Boe Areredi - Bourail-© JC Robert<br />


Bike trek-© Province Sud NCT<br />

Biking<br />

The lower temperature in the winter months makes New<br />

Caledonia a great stop for experienced bikers to explore.<br />

The 400km long main island, Grand Terre is divided by<br />

a mountain range, making the differences between the<br />

east and west parts of the island significantly different.<br />

The east coast is lush and tropical with palm-lined<br />

roads and gushing streams, while the west is covered in<br />

grassy plains and a cinematic view of the lagoon. While<br />

traversing the roads, cyclists can stop by villages and<br />

roadside stalls where there’s an array of New Caledonian<br />

local produce, pastries and cheeses to pick up along<br />

the way. The tropical rainforest of Parc des Grandes<br />

Fougères is a popular route for mountain biking.<br />

Sports events to keep an eye out for in 2023<br />

South Tourisme VTT Pro Tour - Mountain biking competition<br />

Divided into three different stages, the VTT Pro Tour is taking<br />

place in the tropical rainforest of Parc des Grandes Fougères<br />

near Farino in the middle of the Grand Terre (Stage 1 / 4 June),<br />

across the grassland tracks in Deva Domain on the West Coast<br />

(Stage 2 / 16 July) and across the red-dirt tracks in the Blue River<br />

Provincial Park in the Great South (Stage 3 / 1 Oct). Whatever<br />

the goal you want to set for each stage, there is a distance that<br />

corresponds to your level: 10 km, 25 km and 50 km.<br />

https://www.protour.nc/<br />

Shell Pacific MEGARANDO – 2 September<br />

One of the biggest mountain biking events in New Caledonia<br />

is returning for its 20th edition, bringing together hundreds of<br />

amateur cyclists to this event in Bourail and the magnificent<br />

Domaine de Deva.<br />

https://www.megarando.nc/<br />

Beach Party & Triathlon Lifou - 27 - 29 October<br />

The Luengoni tribe invites both amateur and seasoned athletes<br />

to its beautiful beach in the Loyalty Islands with this big festival<br />

combined with a triathlon.<br />

Les Terrasses de Shabadran-© Antoine Roulleau NCT<br />

Coastal Festival & Maré Trail - 8-10 December<br />

Every year, the tribe of Eni on the second-largest of the Loyalty<br />

Islands, organises its big coastal festival. An event dedicated<br />

to seafood, and it is also an opportunity for many sportsmen to<br />

participate in the Air Calédonie de Maré trail.<br />



adventure<br />


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Plateau Lodge<br />

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On-Site Ski & Snowboard gear hire<br />

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Located in the heart of the Ruapehu District,<br />

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S.A Shuttles are a specialists when it comes to Auckland Airport shuttle<br />

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