I’m going to state this as clearly as I can:
If for you, skiing and riding is actually about the skiing and the riding, then you need to visit the club fields of Canterbury, in the southern Alps of New Zealand.
There may be no place in the world that has a more distinctive ski culture, and we’ll try our best over the coming days to document a bit of it. But before we get to the uniqueness of the ski experience here, we should make clear right away just how stunning the Canterbury region is.
And the terrain around here speaks for itself:
Distinctive Cultural Element #1: There are no chairlifts at any of the club fields. All that terrain is accessed via rope tows and “nutcrackers”.
Everyone skis in harnesses, nutcrackers are attached, and the ropes move pretty fast.
Coolest Side Note Ever: Several of the club field rope tows are powered by tractors that have had their back ends removed. If the club wants to speed up the rope, you just shift the tractor into high gear.
The nutcracker/rope tow combination definitely takes a few tries to master, which is both humbling and hilarious. (Nutcrackers are also known as “wanker filters,” and they are indeed a pretty effective means of filtering out wankers.)
Thankfully, the local club field members are extremely patient and helpful, so thanks to all of the Kiwis who helped us figure out a pretty clever way to move up a mountain.
And once you get the hang of it, you’re on your way to areas like this: