Ski or snowboard? Friends or lessons? Apres or ambulance? You’ve heard the snow buzz winding up through Autumn, watched workmates tracking resort cams and talking up a parallel universe of a wintry Shangri La far away from the daily grind. It’s time to see what the fuss is about.
But being a novice on the snow can dial up the anxiety levels…and with good reason.
Attaching your feet onto something designed to slide and then standing on top of a snow covered mountain is not a logical act for someone of sound mind.
Fear not. With some planning, well fitted gear and using a qualified, experienced instructor, your first time on snow could well be a life changing experience. For the better. New friends, envy inducing photos, brisk mountain air…possibly even a better you?
Regardless, one thing is certain: it can make a sizable dent in your bank balance, so here are some pointers for a safe, successful outcome:
Ski or Snowboard?
Personal choice or peer pressure may already have you leaning one way or the other. But generally, skiing is easier to pick up.
You usually fall a lot less as a learner, spend less time sitting on your bum in the snow and end up with less bruises. If you have a skate, surf or wakeboard background snowboarding may appeal and be easier.
Once you get turning effectively on a snowboard however, you can progress much more quickly.
Take A Lesson. The safest way to find out if the sport is for you is with an introductory lesson. The ski and snowboard schools in this country generally have very good training and a reputation for safety and customer service.
Learning how the equipment works and how to stop and turn safely, are, like driving, fairly vital skills before heading out onto the open road.
Let well meaning friends or partners take you to the top as soon as you can (sort of) turn and stop on a beginner slope. Science deniers in your party may try to tell you its all about a positive mindset but gravity has other plans.
Best time to go:
Generally, spring is the the most relaxed,learner friendly time to try the snow.
Avoid the July school holidays if you can. Its, busy, cold and accommodation is a lot harder to find. If you are restricted to the school term, the September holidays are ideal. Longer days, a lot less people and more chance of a tan. If you’re looking to party up, Winter Pride week from September 1-9 in Queenstown has a full schedule of music and on-snow activities.