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The 2009 New Zealand Gathering

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Once again, my good intentions of carefully culling pictures, writing clever prose etc. go out the window - on the assumption that any TR is better than no TR. And I promised some Cajun guy I'd actually post a TR... 

So here is yet another Paean to New Zealand and the Kiwis. Many, many thanks to Julie, her extended network of friends and family, and the other fine folks we met along the way. All I can say is that if Julie is kind enough to offer up another NZ Gathering, you should find a way to go. 

This particular Gathering was spread out over a couple of weeks - from late August into early September. Julie and Adrian started things off with a bunch of Wanaka locals. Cloudpeak & I showed up near the end of "week 1", followed shortly by Acrophobia and Mr. Acrophobia. We did a bunch of skiing. And a bit of sightseeing. I know for a fact that several folks have some better pics than I do. And some pics of places I did not get to. So post them up!!

Dear diary, we skied at Treble Cone on Friday, August 28th. It was wet. We have no pictures from the slopes. But we do have one from the car as we started down. You get the idea... Nonetheless, it was fun skiing with Julie, Adrian, and locals Yvonne and Lynn.

Saturday saw the arrival of Acrophobia and Mr. Acrophobia. And better conditions at Treble cone. Cloudpeak having some fun as the clouds were lifting..


A couple of shots of Julie heading into Matukituki Basin.

To say Sunday was rainy would be an understatement. After a morning of sipping coffee and watching Animal Planet videos about keas, Julie and Adrian decided it was time to head for their respective homes. As the rain continued, we checked out Wanaka's world famous Puzzling World

Acrophobia and I explored this room. One pill makes you larger...

And one pill makes you small....

Cloudpeak exhibiting some puzzling behavior.

Monday it was back to TC's natural half pipes.

As the day went on, the weather got better.

Tuesday the weather continued its games. TC was being hammered & was closed, but Cardrona was open. After an adventure with chains (not the kind anyone cares to read about), we arrived in the middle of a whiteout. Fortunately it cleared and we found a bunch of low lying areas holding wind blown powder. It skied well for a few massively fun runs. Here's Acrophobia demonstrating...

Fun until the whiteout returned - with heavy winds. Acrophobia & Mr. Acrophobia contemplating our route home during a brief moment of "clearing". 

After this we called it and headed for the Old Cardrona Hotel for lunch. Even if you do not ski Cardrona - don't miss the place. Great food & a very "Prancing Pony" ambience - especially if you end up sitting by the fire on a stormy day.

Wednesday it was back to TC to see what the storm had left for us. The keas kept an eye on us (or more accurately our food) during a coffee break while we waited for the Saddle Basin to open.

And the Saddle did open. And it was good...

But we called it after only a few runs in the Saddle - even though there was still plenty of good snow. Not that we'd normally do that. But we wanted to save our energy...

Because a few km out of town, this was waiting for us if the weather cooperated on Thursday.


Edited by spindrift - 9/27/09 at 11:20pm
post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thursday dawned clear and calm & Harris Mountains Heli Ski said everything was good to go.  The recent storm cycle that had played games with us all week deposited meters of fresh snow on some aspects. All of it untouched...  

Pilot Dave got us to the goods... A couple shots of cloudpeak.

Looking back at the first pitch we did. The first few runs were very cautious. There was a buried rain crust and the wind had flip-flopped all over the place. Hence we stuck to the relatively high ground...

When is that lunch delivery gonna get here? (l to r - cloudpeak, Mr. A and Acrophoboa )


Yours truly with Beach the boarder practicing levitation in the background

Mr. A clicking in.

Mr. A.


Our guide Whitney



Mr. Acrophobia

Friday, Julie cut the work week short and joined us for day two of heli skiing. Here she is enjoying the fruits of a wise decision.

Acrophobia with cloudpeak way out in the foreground



Our ace guide for day two - Anna


Mr. A

Gotta love that smile!

Julie wrecking some more powder 

Yours truly, aiming to do same.


Julie, Mr. A and cloudpeak riding the "chairlift"

Acrophobia riding shotgun with Nigel. He's a pilot...

Left to right - cloudpeak, Acrophobia, Mr. A, Julie and guide Anna



Reflecting on a fine day's work...

Wrapping up at the end of the day. Yes, they do stage out of sheep paddocks...

Back in town. One of the two recovery drinks of choice - a local Pinot. The other being, duh, beer... (cue beer pics...)

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
 After our heli days, it was time to play tourist. As heretical as it sounds, it'd be criminal to visit NZ and just ski. 

One of the "mandatory" hikes near Wanaka is the Rob Roy glacier. A couple views of the wonderful beech forest along the way. (Ents not included)

Hints of our destination.

This is Julie's partner Dave. Besides being a great guy, he's also a photographer. He has a big lens. And he knows how to use it. One of his pictures was recently made into a NZ postage stamp. Check out his truly wonderful work at http://www.magiclight.co.nz

The scenery just keeps getting better on this hike.

One of the cool things about the Rob Roy hike is the local sport of avalanche watching. Acorphobia and cloudpeak waiting for the action.

Cloudpeak, Julie and Dave, still waiting...

Despite the early season, the Rob Roy finally delivered. That is a whole lot of snow running just up and left of center.

All that Avalanche watching tired Mr. A out...

You can call me Indy..

After the Rob Roy hike, Julie and Dave had to head home - and it was off to the west for the North American crew... A stop on the way to Haast. I wonder why they call them the "Blue Pools"?

Between Haast and Fox -  a jaunt through "Jurassic Park" and a couple hours of waiting...

Delivers a glimpse of the rare and (almost) elusive Fiordland Crested penguin.

The next day offered fine hiking at the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. Cloudpeak got into taking waterfall pics.

The face of the Franz Josef.

Then it was time for us the fellowship to part ways. Cloudpeak and I went north and then across the South Island to Kaikoura. Our route took us past the world famous Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.

Kaikoura is just crazy cool if you are into sea life. A huge undersea canyon cuts in close to shore, creating a rich marine environment within easy striking distance for birders, whale watchers, etc.

We went whale watching with Whale Watch Kaikoura. They did not  disappoint. The great sperm whale...
The next day it was time for albatross watching. While not quite as popular as the whale or dolphin watching experience -- the albatross trips should be. These birds are just amazing. If you go to Kaikoura, an albatross trip with Albatross Encounter/Ocean Wings should be on your "to do" list. Trust me.

A wandering albatross. These guys have up to a 12 foot wingspan. It is just nuts. Think about 1.5 times as big a wingspan as a bald eagle.

A couple shots of a Salvin's albatross.

Al fresco dining in Kaikoura.

The Kaikoura waterfront.

Edited by spindrift - 9/28/09 at 3:16pm
post #4 of 12
Great pictures...thanks for sharing!
post #5 of 12
 Most excellent,  but does it beat Alpental?
post #6 of 12

…viewing this TR's pictures on the laptop is greatly competing with the Ken Burns National Parks documentary now showing on the larger screen in the background…"arrrg" I say with eyes darting back and forth

post #7 of 12
and this is the 2nd string report?? 

very nice!
post #8 of 12
Very nice TR, a very special part of the World.  Just spent 8 days in the Canterbury region (Christchurch), including heli-skiing out of Mt Cook Village.  I'll definately be back.
post #9 of 12
Ya never disappoint on your TRs Spinner!!!!   Fantastic pics..especially the shots of the Albatross!  I have to put a trip like this on the most do list!  Again thanks for sharing this with us. 
Was the powder you guys skiing anything as moisture laden like the PNW?  Looks real light from the pics with it being so close to the ocean.
post #10 of 12
The powder at TC was pretty dry by PNW standards, actually.  On our heli days, moisture wasn't an issue at all because the snow was so wind-buffed. 

I would post up some more pics, but my external hard drive chose last night to die.  
post #11 of 12
This does not help easing the cravings.

Nice TR!
post #12 of 12
Thanks for sharing the photos, makes me want to go there.
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