Ski New Zealand 2012 - Part 2

Lake Tekapo
After a great day's skiing in the Mackenzie region the top apres-ski activity - at least the best one I can think of - is to soak away the evening in the hot springs at Tekapo Hot Pools.

The three huge hot outdoor pools have varying temperatures and they are divine. Mmmm ...hmmm!

The sun sets over the snow-capped mountains. From the pools you can spy where we were skiing above the clouds at Mt Dobson earlier that day.

The stars come out one by one ... what a way to end a day of powder skiing!

Refreshed and invigorated the next morning, we leave the pretty village at Tekapo and head towards the South.

Lake Pukaki and Mt Cook
The road bucks and bends through the Mackenzie region ... twisting one way then the next as it skirts lakes and rises up and down the steep glacial moraines.

The second great lake in The Mackenzie is Pukaki, and its is a stunner, a bit of a crowd-pleaser, you'll not see a better lake than this! Views of Mt Cook are the icing on this aqua blue cake.

A little further along from Lake Pukaki we arrive at the turn-off to our skifield for the day - don't forget what we're here for - pretty little Ohau.

Like Mt Dobson, Ohau was having a great year in 2012, although it rarely disappoints in any year to be honest. Ohau picks up a bit of snow in most weather systems situated as it is between the Canterbury and Southern Lakes skifields.

Ohau is very remote as South Island ski areas go, far from the populated or tourist areas, but so reliable every year and well worth the visit to anyone doing this trip.

Ohau 22 September 2012
The snow cover was fantastic, especially up high, and the views over Lake Ohau are just magnificent.

This year's visit to Ohau was on a very warm day, and this made the snow spring-like, it was softening as the sun moved around in the sky. We started on one side of the mountain where the still fresh snow softened up for fun turns.

This was probably the best day we've had at Ohau over the many years we have been visiting, the good snow cover in 2012 opening up some areas we hadn't skied before.

Back on the road after Ohau, a few hours drive brought us to our next destination ... beautiful Wanaka. So great to be back! Oh so good to be back in this beautiful town.

Treble Cone 27 September 2012
We had only decided to come down to Wanaka a few days before as we were scheming away in Methven, and I can't believe that we had even considered giving it a miss. I don't think that it was seriously an option - once you get over the Tasman you just have to go to Wanaka!

Wanaka is the smaller of the two great South Island, New Zealand adventure capitals. Less brash, ostentatious and hectic than its neighbour, Queenstown.

While both towns have stunning natural settings, what Queenstown has in terms of cosmopolitan drinking and eating, Wanaka makes up for in terms of a serious, uncompromising focus on outdoor pursuits and lifestyle.

A half an hour drive from Wanaka is the skifield at Treble Cone. An overnight snowfall had delivered a 20cms fresh dump across the upper mountain.

Wanaka 27 September 2012
The sun warmed the snow and the morning gave way to a packed lunch overlooking the lake and the township of Wanaka.

A quick drive down, a change, and then we were walking along the lake in t-shirts in the sun, the sparkling water shimmering and the mountain peaks - where we had been skiing that morning - framing the beautiful landscape.

We usually stay in privately rented accommodation like holiday homes when we're in New Zealand, but this year we made an exception in Wanaka staying at the Oakridge Resort just outside of the township. It was a bit of a gamble as we like our peace and quiet, but the resort was not too busy, the apartments were fantastic, and the views lovely.

Oakridge Resort Wanaka
The hot pools at the centre of the resort were a favourite every day ... a place to soak and swim after a hard day's skiing as the sun goes down, a glass of warmed cider in hand.

As well as nearby Treble Cone, the skifield at Cardrona is also only a 30-minute drive away. We had two great days at Cardies during our extended stay at Wanaka.

The snow at Cardrona was Spring-style, firm to start and then softening across the mountain. We've been coming here so many years that we know where to pick up the best snow during the day ... and were frankly a little amazed at the lack of local knowledge. We just loved the empty runs in the Last Shot Bowl and Powder Keg this year.

Spring Snow Dragon at Cardrona
Eventually - there's only so much soaking you can do in hot pools - we decided to make our way back to Canterbury again. The lakes in the Mackenzie were looking fantastic in the sparkly early Spring sunshine ... so much so that we decided to stay a night at a motel overlooking the lake. What a wake-up call!

This also gave us the opportunity to hit Mt Dobson again for the second time this trip! While the conditions weren't quite a great as the earlier visit, we did manage to find some fresh turns in the softening snow before heading down to pretty Geraldine for the night.

Geraldine is a great base for walks, or tramping as it is known in NZ. For something different on a couple of windy days in the mountains we hiked around the Peel Forest and near Mt Somers. Beautiful!

Then we made our way back to Methven to finish off our trip with a few more days at brilliant Mt Hutt. The skiing was still great ... fun, some fresh ... and it was October!

Til next year NZ!

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