07 October 2021
Since the very beginning of Jessie, I have imagined taking her to the snow… it’s always amused me watching pole-less little ones whip past me, faster than I would ever dare to go myself, while I take wide parallel turns down the slopes (I have done this down black trails though, I’ll have you know… once, when I was 13, I even (accidentally) went off piste).
This year was the year! We planned a trip to Mount Hutt for my birthday, in August, and in July we went out and bought all the gear required (a bright pink ski suit for Jessie, and some new goggles for me (after I realised it has been so long since I’d last hit the slopes that my original pair had fallen to bits)). Unfortunately just a couple of days before we were due to head off, community cases of Covid reared their ugly heads and back into lockdown we went. I re-booked us for October though, and luckily this worked out (which I am grateful for, as it was one of the last weekends of the season).
Taking a pre-schooler skiing doesn’t really allow for your usual up at the crack of dawn to leave Christchurch and get up the mountain by 9am situation (though I’m sure this will come in future years, as it’s all part of the fun really), so we booked two nights in Methven, the alpine village close to the mountain, and headed over the night prior – Ski Time Lodge is an excellent option if you just want to put your head down somewhere comfy for the night, but also enjoy some delicious food – the room was fairly basic, though super spacious even with a king and single bed… perfect for what we wanted, and included in the rate was breakfast – I was expecting continental only, but it included a hot option of bacon, eggs, creamy mushrooms, tomatoes, hash brown and toast. Exactly what is needed before a big day on the mountain!
At 7.30am, once we’d finished our amazing breakfast (with a side of fantastic customer service), we set off for Mount Hutt. The good thing about going up near the end of the season is that there is no snow on the road, so that meant we could easily travel up in our sedan, with no chains required. As with anything where I’m not in control, it still made me nervous, particularly when Jessie asked “Mummy, are those fences to stop our car going down the cliff” *nervous giggle*, but the sights were beautiful. We got up before most people and managed to nab an excellent park right outside the entrance, which made it a lot easier to manage our gear.
I had booked Jessie into Skiwiland for the full day, which is an excellent service on offer – basically an ECE centre with some ski school thrown in. I had expected to have to hang around should Jessie be nervous or take a while to warm up to the Kaiako (teachers), and so Craig and I had only bought ourselves an afternoon lift pass, but almost as soon as we arrived Jessie was waving us off. So we went off and got ourselves a (very expensive) coffee, and then went and arranged our skis, boots and poles (I wasn’t sure they’d allow this with only having an afternoon pass, but they did and so that made it nice and easy for us to get right into it when the time came).
About an hour after Jessie had been at Skiwiland, the kids were taken outside to have a go at skiing for the first time, and honestly I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything as cute as those tiny people in their tiny skis, tiny boots, and tiny helmets with goggles. ADORABLE. We watched Jessie from a small distance at first, but she somehow spotted me almost immediately, which I’m still confused by as she had never seen me in my ski outfit (pants, helmet, goggles), but that’s my eagle-eyed girl, so we moved back to the seating area and watched from there, which made it hard to get any good photos, but it was still okay for watching. It was basically like watching a mother cat move her kittens around… they would bend their knees and go down a slight slope, often falling over, at which point the instructor would lift them back up by a loop on their back. Hilarious.
Lunch time rocked around and the children had an hour break with their parents before the afternoon session started, so we went and got our girl, paid half a year’s salary for some hot chips and chicken, and heard all about her morning at Skiwiland… she LOVED it, and she was pretty pleased I had put her hair in French plaits, as the instructors were sporting the same do.
When the hour was up, I took Jessie back over to Skiwiland and she was straight onto the kaiako’s lap for a story… impressive… and then it was Mum and Dad’s turn. We went and got our skis… well, I did and Craig went and got new ones as someone had taken his from the rack (which was odd as they were the only ones of that particular colour), and then we headed straight for the new chairlift, the Nor’ Wester… ironically though, the Nor West wind was blowing up quite the gale, and the chairlift was put on hold, so we went and dragged ourselves up the magic carpet onto the learners slope a couple of times… this was a painful experience as it takes about ten times as long to get up the top as it does to get to the bottom, but it was better than sitting around waiting. Once the lift opened again we shimmied (for lack of a better term… I’m sure there is one) as fast as we could back to the queue, whipped up our buffs to act as a face mask (so painful by the end of the day with the friction caused by sweat and snow) and slid ourselves on (well, after Craig sorted his problem with the lift pass… it had been so long since we’d last been that we were not at all used to the cards they use these days… I kind of missed the old school barcodes on a wire, attached to your zip, situation… he had his credit card in his pocket and we think it was stopping the gates from recognising his card). The wind really hasn’t calmed down THAT much and I was finding it pretty freaky up there… the downward force made it feel like my skis were going to unsnap themselves from my boots… but we got to the end (just to have to operator yell at us to get off… well I assume that’s what she was saying… which they seem to do every time – it’s not exactly a relaxing exit).
Being our first time back in quite some time, we decided to take a green trail to warm up. It was glorious! The views were beautiful, the snow was in pretty good condition for it being 1.30pm, and it felt good (aside from my BURNING leg muscles… if you want to feel like you’ve aged, try skiing after a long break (and probably not having done any body weight exercises for quite some time)).
Unfortunately I could only manage a couple of rounds before my body gave in, which I put down to wearing my boots all morning before actually doing any skiing. Craig did three. I think we were both pretty happy though, as really the day was about Jessie and she’d had a great time. She was fairly tired, but happy, when we went and picked her up at 3pm (we decided to beat the rush back down the mountain) and she fell asleep pretty soon after getting in the car (not without getting her afternoon tea muffin all through her car seat first though).
We had dinner booked in for 6pm, so it was good for her to have a wee kip first, and we also rested and showered back in our room beforehand too.
Dinner was AMAZING – Ski Time is pretty highly rated for dinner on Trip Advisor, and I could see it was popular with locals as well as guests. We had a lovely spot next to the log fire, and Jessie behaved really well for having had such a big day – loved her dinner and dessert.
We all slept really well that night, and took our time getting ready and heading back to Christchurch the next morning.
While skiing is not the cheapest of activities, I think it’s well worth the investment and I can’t wait to take Jessie up again next year (and we will definitely be staying at Ski Time Lodge again).