After a sweet summer break with lots of sun and waves its seems odd to be going back to winter but the time had come and I was on the plane to Hokkaido. I haven't been to Hokkaido or Japan since we filmed 'Night Fury' a couple of years back. That was quite a mission and I love to look back on it however thankfully there is no night filming in store for this trip, maybe a bit of night shredding up the resort would be cool. This time I'm meeting up with a few skiers and a few snowboarders from New Zealand and we are filming a tv show sponsored by Mountain Dew. Don't do stuff with skiers much so that should be interesting and hopefully good, I think they can pack down jumps pretty good..
We had been trying to get a mission for episode 3 going for a while but constantly had been getting held back due to permits, weather and anything else that could go wrong. We had a spot in mind that I had heard about from a couple of friends but had never seen myself and after a lot of research and enquiring we decided would be perfect. The plan was to build an igloo in a spot with lots of terrain around it so we could build the ultimate snowboarding campsite. Jumps over the igloo, quarters, jibs and some lines we could heli near by. The crew was big, Hyna, Stef, a sepo named Seth and myself riding. Heath, James and Tom on the cameras and two guides Elliot and Mike, a dream crew. It finally came together early October. the resorts were closed and the weather in Queenstown was super warm already. We had a two day weather window. The elevation in our chosen spot was about 2300 meters so we hoped the snow would still be ok. Unfortunately it had rained everywhere before cooling enough to snow a little but it was our last chance so we went for it. A quick buzz around the area showed our original spot was a no go.. no snow. Over the ridge we found a cool looking windlip and after landing and a walk and search we decided it would be the best spot. It was still super icy but its was only 8.30am so we got to work and hoped it would soften with the spring sunshine. I was the only one with any igloo building experience, I had built one before. That one took two of us two hours. With 5 people building it should be quick right, wrong! Nine hours later we were putting on the finishing touches. To be fair we built a big big igloo and a jump over it as well. It was done just in time for an evening session. The wind was howling and we were near exhaustion but still managed a few hikes and hits. The way the wind caught you as you flew over the igloo was crazy. I've never been blown out of the sky like that before, theres always tomorrow. Camp dinner, box of wine, look at aurora australis and bed. The next day I woke to movement around the campsite and a perfect warm spring morning. I love how on spring snow missions the days are so long, theres no hurry. Got a bit of a breakfast hang, a stretch, an amazing breakfast and coffee! That day was super fun had a real fun campsite session, handplants and airs on the quarter on the side of the igloo, another jump session and a few fun laps in the heli. Unfortunately the wind was back and we were limited on where we could land so we decided to call it a day and head back to Queenstown. It was a crazy two days and seemed pretty surreal that we had done all we did.
Broken River is a cool place to go. Driving up the road though beech forest, catching the ghetto gondola then walking up to the tows on the wooden pathways. The setup is just super cool. Our day here was pretty cloudy and flat light unfortunately because I have had some good days here in the past. But it was slushy still and had a few fun runs when the cloud cleared briefly.
A couple of days of bad weather was a good excuse for a rest, went for a couple of drives around Christchurch. Checked out the shipping container mall which was cool. An old greenstone carver we met there told us some greenstone tales and then showed us how to identify greenstone so we could get rid of a backseat full of useless rocks we had collected from our west coast greenstone hunt. Kept a few potential greenstone's to!
Our next resort was Mount Olympus. The adventure to get to Mount Olympus is rad. Gravel roads, lakes, farm gates, driving across sketchy scree slope roads, all crazy scenic. When you finally get to the bottom of the road up you have to radio up from a hut to let them know your driving up, its super backcountry kiwi style. Upon arrival I could see how the snow was just solid ice, it looked terrible. Went up to the lodge for a coffee and after a hour or two it had softened a bit. After a couple of runs it started getting real soft and turned out to be the funnest lap, a few hits then a super slushy steep face then a few more hits. Ended up being an epic day and probably my favourite clubby spot I've been to in NZ. The lodge is real cool looking and the amount of terrain you could get to with short hikes is amazing. Can't wait to get back here next season!!
Next on our list and another place I had never been was Craigieburn. Craigieburn is another club field with a few nutcracker lifts in the Arthurs Pass area. It hadn't snowed for a couple of days so it was quite lucky it was super warm and the snow got kinda slushy. Craigieburn I found out later on has a pretty good reputation for being unfriendly. It definitely lived up to this almost straight away. Just as well we didn't go there to make friends with the staff. Anyway riding here was pretty fun although would have been great to get it on a powder day. Lots of long steepish slushy runs, goodtimes riding in the sun!
While I was on my trip to Australia my dad was busy with his bucket list resort tour ticking off all the resorts around Queeenstown and Wanaka. Next place our list was Temple Basin. I was amped for this one because I have never been there and everyone harps on about how awesome it is. We drove up the west coast from Queenstown, that drive is crazy just so scenic. It took us two days after visiting a bunch of sights, receding glaciers, taking some photos and stopping to look for greenstone which apparently you can find at the beach(problem is it doesn't look green in its natural form it looks like lots of other rocks on the beach so who knows what we found). Anyway eventually made it to Temple Basin. So at Temple you hike about a hour into a lodge to stay and ride. The lodge staff cook big dinners for everyone staying so that tasted amazing after that hike. Luckily he weather cleared that evening after a bit of fresh snow. I met up with Connor Harding, Piers Harding and Jeremy Town who where up for the day. Its been a while since I used nutcrackers which if you don't know is like the sketchiest lift system there is, you cannot relax around these things or you will loose fingers. Only ended up riding them a couple of times and then went and hiked a line and a couple of other features we found. Was a super fun day and was stoked to check out Temple although I only really got to scratch the surface of all the accessible terrain there. Hiking down at the end of a days hiking kinda sucked was wiped out by the time we got to the car! Next time I would stay longer.
I was lucky enough to get over to Thredbo and Perisher for a few days. I rode Perisher for the first time last year, the park there is super fun and reminds me of Snowpark in NZ, so was stoked to get back there. I was there with the NZ/AUS Dragon team to film a #weareframeless edit. It was fun to hang out and ride park. On the last day we rode the side county at Thredbo, the terrain out there was quite good to my surprise so was cool to check that out and try shoot a little Australian backcountry.
Mt Dobson was next on the Bucket list mish. I’m a fan of Dobson, Ive had some super fun days up there, hiking and just riding the chair and T-bar. Its a bit low tide on snow at the moment but still had a fun day cruising round there. There were a quite a few fun little hits and the snow was good. Another dump or two and it’ll be on.
So this season I’m doing a mission with my dad, Peter, the mission is to ride every ski field in New Zealand. Its a bucket list goal for him so I decided to come along for the ride. There are so many small fields in New Zealand and it will be an adventure to check them all out. On top of that, this season New Zealand actually has snow!! I’ve ticked off a few already but the first one with just my dad and I was Ohau. Lots of people froth over Ohau, I’m not one of them. I always seem to have bad days there. But this time it turned it on with 30 cm overnight, sunny and no wind. Was an epic day! Also fished a bit and that seemed quite good to.
While we were filming for episode 2 of DDU episode 2 we had a couple of down days when the weather wasn’t so good so we did a pretty cool mission into Arthurs Pass. There is a few hikes you can do there but we did one up to a waterfall called The Devils Punchbowl. It was a quick hike 20 mins or something and the waterfall was super cool. We abandoned the track and viewing platform and walked right up close to the waterfall. Got soaked but it was worth it, the wind and spray coming off the bottom of it was crazy, just pelting us with water. So much cooler than I thought it was going to be!!
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