So one of the main reason we flew to Queenstown straight away is so we could be in the south island for the winter and hopefully learn how to snowboard, this was Robbies number one rule. Why Queenstown and not Wanaka or Christchurch? If you’ve ever been to Queenstown you will understand why. Its a quaint little mountain town situated on a lake surrounded by amazing views, the weather is beautiful, the people are so friendly and theres always something to do here. There is also three mountains to choose from and all within driving range.
We decided to book a lesson as we didn’t want to just get up there and not have a clue what we were doing, plus we found a pretty good deal from a shop in town which included all our gear hire and transport for the day. Trudy had kindly leant us some of her sons old snowboarding jackets too so we were all set to go up the mountain. We didn’t realise until we were on the bus and driving out of Queenstown that we were having our lesson at Cardrona which is the Wanaka Ski field, however it didn’t matter the views across the crown range and up to the mountain made up for the long drive, the view is incredible.
After getting our boots and board from the rental desk we joined the rest of the first timers at the bottom of the slope. I have never ever done a board sport before so I was convinced that I was setting myself up to fail here, super Robbie on the other hand who can put his hand to anything was excited to strap up and throw himself down the mountain. We had to endure the patronising tone from the instructor for two hours as he shouted at everyone in the group for not just ‘going’… by going he means one foot strapped in the other balancing on the back of the board which makes it super tempting to take if off all the time and put it in the snow to stop yourself, which also results in falling over. The ski lesson area wasn’t that great either, behind us was the back of a run so people were coming down super fast to finish their runs and we were practicing straight into the waiting lift queue, It was all very daunting and I was listening to Robbie and watching him more than the instructor. Eventually we were allowed to strap both our feet in which I instantly found so much easier, we were taught how to follow your lead foot down, turn onto your toe side and back onto your heel side and start and stop yourself. I thought I was doing okay until I picked up a really bad habit of not going on my toe side as I was afraid of falling backwards. In the lunch break, we stayed on the learner slopes on our own and Robbie taught me how to do some other things. He had picked it up straight away and was having the best time. After the lesson was over we went up to the top of a green run. Thats right, after your lesson they stick you on a chair lift and push you down the hill! terrifying!!!!!
The chair lift itself needs its own lesson, as It comes up fast from behind and your awkwardly have your board strapped onto only one foot, I knew I was heading for disaster at the top. They slow it down a little for new people to get off but it doesn’t make it any easier! You just have to gracefully dismount and ride your board down the little ramp to the top of the run, Naturally I was a heap on the floor pulling myself to the edge to avoid getting hit by the next lift, But we were at the top of our first green run, the views at the top are to die for and I was to busy taking pictures to notice everyone strapping themselves in. But we were off, Robbie was doing great and as i was super nervous I pretty much went down on my heels and didn’t get any turns in, I was just happy that I got from the top to the bottom without seriously hurting myself. When we got home we were both absolutely buzzing and just wanted to go again, So we went out and got Robbie all new gear, boots, board, bindings and clothing. It was like christmas and so much fun! I was happy loaning a board off a friend until I found out she didn’t want to sell it so the next weekend we did the same for me, the whole lot and what a difference it made!
This board was smaller, faster and so much easier to use, I was totally in love with it. I spent some time getting used to it on the baby slope as it had just been waxed which is just a ridiculous accelerator! I was learning to trust my boots, one of the most important things you can do is get good fitting boots and trust them, trust that when you lean onto your shins you’re not going to fall! Another important thing is learning to fall properly. Learning to fall is equally as important as actually learning how to snowboard to avoid injury, this was also something I was getting pretty good at. The lower you are, the faster you go which also meant the more time I spent with my bum on the snow. BUT I was learning and I was getting somewhere, Robbie was just being a little champ and racing down the runs and now he’s started to teach himself tricks and everything! So after a few weeks of tantrums from falling over, some pretty heavy stacks down the runs and in some serious need of some bum padding I was finally getting it. Speed is really important something I didn’t actually realise until this weekend, the faster you go the easier it is to turn and get down the mountain upright instead of making slow mistakes and being that person sliding down on your bum. I have mastered the chair lift (Robbie is yet to fall off one yet even from day one!) and I even gave someone a little lesson in getting on and off one. I never ever thought I would find a sport I loved as much as I do snowboarding, something clicked this weekend and it felt really natural just getting from the top to the bottom, Ive tried new runs and finally not being left behind with all the babies at the bottom.
Theres a real calm atmosphere when you’re up on the mountain and everyone looks out for each other especially when you fall, even the people going super fast will shout to see if you’re okay because trust me it hurts a lot! The drive up to the ski field is a 13km winding road, I’m sure it doesn’t do wonders for your car but the views are incredible and as it slowly changes halfway up and snow starts appearing its like you’re driving into a different land. We spend our weeks checking the snow reports and I never thought I would be excited about it snowing and raining, but rain down here means fresh snow on the mountain which means perfect conditions to ride all day. We take up our little flask and sandwiches and have a full day racing each other down to the bottom, I am yet to win.
If anyone was to try snowboarding for the first time I would 100% recommend a lesson to get the basics and then just get your stuff and go teach yourself, Its so much fun and once you found your confidence it becomes so much more enjoyable. We have now found that much of a love for it we are planning our trips around our snowboards and looking at what countries we can travel with our boards.