Sometimes, you just need to get away from it all and try something new. For me, that "something new" involved strapping my feet to a 5 foot board made of fibreglass and wood and sliding down a snowy mountain, trying my best not to fall on my face. This weekend, I tried snowboarding for the first time! And I think I may be hooked. 

Late last week, we were desperately trying to find something cheap to do for the weekend. We didn't want to go too awful far from home, so we looked at everything from "tenpin" bowling to laser tag in Palmy. Nothing sounded too exciting or worth the money.

Chandler, Kendrick, Kristi, and yours truly
Fortunately, some guys from the States went snowboarding last weekend and didn't have to return their rental gear for a while. They were kind enough to let us borrow their boards, boots, snow pants, and gloves for free! So, Kristi, Chandler, a guy from Hong Kong named Kendrick, and I all pitched in to rent a tiny Hyundai Elantra to get us to Mt. Ruapehu. It was kind of a hassle renting the car on a Friday afternoon for the next day, and we were lucky that Rent-a-Dent had a car left. We've rented from them before, and the owner is awesome! He gave us a compact car for the price of the economy cars, since there weren't any left for the weekend.

On Saturday morning, we left Massey around 5:30, since the mountain is close to three hours away.  The bigger and better ski field (from what I've been told) was closed due to a blizzard and icy roads, so we drove south from there to the other ski field, along with every other person in the North Island who was planning on skiing or snowboarding that day. When we started heading up the mountain, we ran into a line of cars waiting to get chains on their tires, since the roads were still kinda snowy from the day before. We waited and waited, and we must have waited so long that the sun melted the snow off the roads and chains weren't needed! (Yay! That saved us like $30!) The road to the top of the mountain was clear, and the views were gorgeous! I don't think I've ever seen that much snow in my life! In some places, there were 111 cm (which is a little more than three and a half feet). 

Mt. Ruapehu. Elevation: 2797 metres
After making the trek from the parking lot to the top of the bunny slopes, we all strapped into our boards, and started shredding the mountain... Just kidding. At first, the mountain shredded us! Learning to snowboard is definitely not for people who are afraid to make an idiot out of themselves. You see, in the first five minutes or so, I figured out how to stand up and slide around pretty easily. But, stopping, well, that's another story. The goal is to be able to stop while still standing up on the board. (And hopefully look cool while doing it.) It took me a while to learn how, so at first I would kinda just fall in a sliding-into-home-plate motion in order to stop. There were so many people there that I was always afraid I was going to run into somebody, so I just took a fall so they wouldn't have to. 

We spent a few hours practicing the basics (turning, stopping, not running into little kids), and then we started tackling steeper, higher slopes with some of the members of the Massey University Alpine Club. They were on a weekend ski trip and were so awesome to give us some pointers. (For instance, you're supposed to commit to fall on your backside rather than catch yourself with your wrists. It makes sense, but it's surprisingly difficult to do, as I found out.) I think I did pretty well, too! One of the girls from the club told me that I looked like a professional out there. (I guess it just comes naturally. Look out Shaun White!) While I don't claim to be good at snowboarding, I'm excited to try it again and get better!  

Near the end of the day, we tried out a slope with a little jump. I go way too fast to even attempt jumping and landing without breaking my neck, so I just went around it. (I haven't figured out how to take it slow yet.) I think we were starting to get tired, because it became harder and harder to board without wiping out (hard), so we decided to head back to Palmy. 

Before we left the mountain, we stopped for some fish and chips at a little hole-in-the-wall takeaway shop, and then went to New World for a few groceries. (I bought a bag of frozen vegetables because I was out and needed them to ice my wrist on the drive home. I took a pretty hard hit on my last run and landed on my wrist. It's perfectly fine now, since I only bruised it.) On the drive home, I was thinking about just how lucky I am. I've got some pretty great friends here, and we were finishing up such an incredible day. Saturday was the perfect ending to a busy week of tests and homework! 

Remember how we wanted a cheap weekend? Here's how my snowboarding weekend added up!
Car rental: $24 NZD
Gas: $21 
Chains: $30  $0
Food: $9
Gear: $50 $0
Lift pass: $100 $0 
(Who needs a lift? We just walked up the hill like a hundred times.)
Grand total: $54 NZD or $34 USD

I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to try this! It wasn't something I had in mind to do while I was in New Zealand, but it was so awesome, nonetheless. I definitely want to try it again sometime! Yes, it still hurts to sit down, my lips are chapped and slightly windburned, and I have at least five bruises on my legs. But, it was totally worth it.


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