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A great day on the slopes

Ever thought about taking the family skiing? Mum of three, ANNIE MANSFIELD, shares some tips for making your day up the mountains more affordable and loads of fun.

In our family, we are lucky to have the budget for skiing. It’s an activity I do with my three boys, which keeps me going through the winter. We all absolutely love it! The early morning wake-up call and drive through the dark, sausage sandwiches en route, audiobooks for the boys and coffee for me, mum, the sunrise, the slow and steady crocodile of cars driving up the mountain. It feels like a family pilgrimage. 

Skiing is a fun and rewarding activity for all the family. It requires a certain amount of resilience to get yourself going, but once you are staying upright for more than a few minutes you will love it. Being up in the mountains, surrounded by snow-covered peaks and the endless blue sky is a spiritual feeling for me. It serves as an escape from the daily grind and a connection to the beautiful world around us. You are zipping down the mountain, breathing in that wintry fresh air and it’s a feeling of freedom and joy. I can’t get enough of it.

Our older boys now ski with varying degrees of competence, and the youngest (5) merrily whizzes down the slopes. What we all have in common is the pure joy of being up in the mountains, doing what we love together.

Get the most out of your day.

  • Check the weather conditions the night before, and don’t bother going if there is snow or strong winds forecast. You should leave early and allow plenty of time for the journey.  
  • Make sure you have suitably warm gear for the mountains – wind and water-resistant jacket and pants, gloves, hat, base and mid layers (wool or synthetic but not cotton) and warm socks (at least two pairs). Getting cold and wet is a quick way to ruin your day.
  • You can hire skis and boots, helmets and goggles up the slopes. We purchased our gear secondhand to keep costs down. 
  • Be prepared for the minor hurdle of getting your gear and boots on and much hilarity when attempting to move anywhere on skis for the first few hours. 
  • You can bring your own picnic and snacks and the super important flask of hot drinks. A copious supply of lollies is a must to keep energy levels high. 
  • If you’re a nervous driver, the larger ski fields operate a shuttle bus service, taking the stress out of the drive up the mountain. 
  • If you have the budget, it is highly recommended to book beginners of all ages into ski school lessons. 

All of the Canterbury ski fields are located within a couple of hours’ drive from Christchurch, making them ideal for a big day out. Mount Hutt is our top ski destination because it offers the largest range of slopes and top-quality lifts. The ‘lifties’ are cheery and helpful, and there is plenty of space for everyone. It’s a great place to learn and even better once you are ready for more of a challenge. For a lower-cost alternative, Mt Cheeseman is a family-friendly club ski field. They offer a very competitive beginners’ package. 

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