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Backcountry Skiing in New Zealand 2016

New Zealand, South Island, is the most beautiful country, almost the least crowded, and certainly the most friendly country in the world. We had a wonderful month long trip in August 2016 and met some wonderful new friends and revisited old friends.

It is the quintessential Surf and Ski land where you can ski big snow covered peaks and surf perfect surf breaks the next day.

The very first day we arrived, we bumped into a friend we knew from Antarctica, Mark Sedon, and he said the heli skiing is epic.  The first day we did 20,000 feet vert in nice powder, but had very sore legs.  Then we headed up to Kirtle Burn hut near Mt. Pisa to ski,  We met an Aussie group of snow kiters.  Geoff Wilson kited across Antarctica!  They let me try and connected me with Richard Prout, the kite distributor who connected me with a guy getting rid of some kites.  I am now learning snow kiting.  Richard Prout turned out to be an interesting guy and we had dinner and some drinks.  He turned me on to Bald Hills Pinot 2005, 2006 and 2010. The 05 is one of the best wines I have ever had in my entire life.  One of the highlights of the trip.

We helied into the Liebig Range and stayed a week at the Lady Emily Hut, which is NOT on the map and only used by locals.  We met a group that had met in Antarctica and ran the safety and housekeeping for the Kiwi base in Antarctica.  Talk about interesting jobs!  The terrain and snow was very good with big bowls and towering peaks and chutes on all aspects.

We then stayed at a beautiful hut next to Lake Pukaki.  Just up the road the heli guys lets us bump up 6 minutes to a big mountain Kai Terau just above them. The price was less than skiing at the ski fields.  Heli assisted back country skiing.  Its a big big bowl with 2500 meter peaks.  We scored perfect corn and sunny weather.

We skied 20 days out of 30 and only had 2 weather days.  We rented really nice houses in Wanaka.  I’d definitely think of living there more.

Friends Alex Magoon my best friends son from Hawaii, and Leroy Rust came up from Duneden to ski with us one day.  We went down to visit my good friend Rod Rust in Duneden.  He has a big ranch above one the best surf spots in the world and owns a surf shop.  Rod’s son, Leroy is also a big wave surfer we met when he was surf big waves in Hawaii and helped with our daughter’s wedding.  We surfed some fun waves at St. Clair’s in front of the surf shop in Duneden.

Unfortunately, its getting discovered.  Wanaka, a charming little ski town is starting to get crowded.  Even four years ago, its was deserted.  Queenstown is overrun. There are buses of Chinese tourists yelling loudly in gaudy clothes. The back country huts are crowded.   Even still, the roads are virtually empty, and there are many places to get away with a one hour hike.  Nothing like the crowds in California or Washington.