First Impressions – Wanaka a truly beautiful town
Our New Zealand Ski Instructor Training Course begins in 4 days. Students are arriving from all over the world for 10 weeks of intensive instruction at Cardrona Resort, South Island, New Zealand.
Currently, there is Elliott (UK), Paul (Canada) and myself in Wanaka. We are impressed with the town which nestles beside a clear water lake surrounded by snow- capped mountains. It is truly beautiful.
The waterfront has numerous bars, restaurants and cafes busy with tourists and locals. The town has all the shops you could ever need from Pharmacy to Adventure. There are galleries, book shops, ski and snowboard specialists, a library, and cinemas. These boutique cinemas show the latest releases which you can enjoy sitting in sofas with a beer in your hand.
The snow sport retailers offer discounts to all ski and snowboard instructor trainees – in some cases and for some services up to 25%.
There is a distinct holiday atmosphere in Wanaka. It is infectious and makes you want to grab your walking boots or hire a mountain bike and head off into the hills. Leaflets abound with offers of heli skiing, paintballing, zip lining – the list is endless. So much to do yet so little time left after 5 days every week on snow.
The nearest ski resorts to Wanaka are Treble Cone and Cardrona. Each is about a 30 minute drive away. But be prepared for the road into the mountains is not quite European. The roads are gravel and have the tightest hair pins and the steepest drops. But once you hit the snow, you are there.
All skiing in New Zealand is above the tree line (I can see no trees on the mountains – this ain’t Canada). The resorts start where the snow begins. There is very little snow in Wanaka itself as the lake acts as a storage heater which keeps the valley warm.
Cardrona is famous for its snow parks, pipes and fun, whilst Treble Cone has the steeper stuff. The instructor training takes place at Cardrona where there are more ski novices and beginner terrain. Thats not to say Cardrona has no ‘fun stuff’. There are pipes, rails and jumps everywhere. There is a gravity course with tight banked corners, and steeps, rocks and valleys to challenge any skier or snowboarder.
Further ski resorts can be found around Queenstown which is about an hour away from Wanaka. Queenstown is a much bigger and busier resort and has access to further ski fields such as the Remarkables. This is the mecca for antipodean snowheads and international powderhounds, so is worth a trip just to soak up the ‘ski’ feel.
And back in Wanaka after a day on the slopes – we have a warm welcome from our hosts at the Fairway Motel, Rob and Eve. This young couple run the Fairway with a ‘can do’ attitude. Nothing is too much trouble. The rooms are super clean and the town centre just a five minute walk away – the gym only two.
There are laundry facilities within the motel and a ski drying room for wet items and a barbecue for warmer evenings during August – yet to be believed – though Rob assures us this is true.
And since I have arrived in New Zealand, so many past clients have been in touch hoping to make the trip to Wanaka to catch up. Some are working in New Zealand as instructors, some are just travelling, some live here and qualified with us in Canada, and some are holidaying from New Zealand. I feel honoured to be part of this international ski community.