Splitboarders Chasing Snow and Dirt in New Zealand
G3 splitboard athlete Sean Busby just checked in from his trip to New Zealand. It's ironic that he's travelling the globe on a quest for year round snow and probably found less snow than what's left in BC's alpine this summer. But it sounds like they're making the most of it. Hopefully he's enjoing the hunt, and don't be fooled by the powder in that image... see those black things in his rooster tail!?
First day -- took a beating to our splitboards. Was pretty depressed about the conditions and the amount of P-Tex needed. Near the northern part of the south island we were getting "reports" of 30+ cm of fresh snow within the first 24 hours of arrival. After speaking with some other local kiwis we went freedom camping at the bottom of an access road until the weather cleared. Once cleared and a snapped snow tire chain later -- we found ourselves hitch hiking onto a school bus that was heading up to the snow line with local school children. Ahh, I love New Zealand.
Anyways, climbing and riding quickly set in and I found myself questioning the "report" and looking for any sort of gully that may contain more snow in order to safely descend. Long story short, my board is coming home with some major battle wounds that I have band-aided for this coming season. It was nasty for sure.
After this nightmarish day on snow, we headed west to the beaches of the west coast as New Zealand was dry from top to bottom. Upon reaching the west coast and settling in, a new storm front was shaping up and headed for the south island. Setting up to be a "perfect storm," I then relocated our RV (VW Westy) to an area near Lake Tekapo in order to access the goods of the Two Thumb Range when the storm hit. It would also allow us to indulge in local hot springs while we waited.
Days later, rain came with high snow levels. As I got desperate, angry, and low on beer - I sought us solitude down in Wanaka with local friends. We ended up hitting the surrounding Treble Cone area at a "decent time" considering what was available everywhere else. I treated myself to a restock on necessities and we then experienced New Zealand's finest "deep" tussock grass riding conditions with maybe only 10-15 cm's of fresh snow covering the native plants. All in all, it was much better than rocks and was a last ditch attempt to finish out this season's South Island's (snowless) backcountry adventure before catching our next flights to the North Island.
On the north island we caught up with my wife, Mollie, and hosted a Riding On Insulin Camp at Snowplanet, before shooting south of Auckland for some backcountry volcano action in the Tongariro National Park area. But alas, plans of riding the Tongariro backcountry are now reserved for a later time as Tongariro decided to wake up and start a volcanic eruption! I also must mention that it began to snow again in New Zealand - snowing hard. Unfortunately, that happened down on the South Island just after we had left the South in exchange for the North's erupting volcano. Go figure right?
On a larger scale, Riding On Insulin was a great success here in New Zealand for the second year in a row. It is a refreshing way to start off our non-profit season with that camp having such a huge success for the kids and teens in this country. We head over to Australia in a few days to host another camp there for Aussie kids.
Sweet as,Sean Busby