Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day-off under Aoraki/Mt Cook

On the days when the weather is rough up on Mt. Dobson, I either work down in Peter's workshop, or if there is not much to do there, I simply get a day-off. :) This happened two times last and this week and I was lucky that I had some friends (Alan and Matthieu) visiting me at that time, so we could plan something (if I was alone, I doubt that I would even get out of the bed during the whole day ;)). So, Monday I got a day-off, we checked what possibilities there are and miraculously the weather forecast for Mt. Cook national park was good (this doesn't mean too much though as forecasting the weather in NZ mountains might be one of the hardest jobs ever). But anyways, we gave it a go and what seemed unbelievable to me got true. I finally saw the highest NZ peak - Aoraki/Mt. Cook (after driving by for the 6th or 7th time..). Moreover, as the weather was really nice, we did not stay only watching, but also did 2 small treks in the surrounding valleys:

Aoraki/Mt Cook - the summit still covered in clouds, but this is probably as good as it gets (at least for me..) When leaving the valley, we even saw the peak without any clouds for few seconds, but it got covered immediately again..

 Hooker valley - with this name, of course we needed to go and see what is waiting for us there ;)

Alan and Mat passing one of the swing bridges in Hooker valley

Hooker valley expedition at the end of the trek (me, Matthieu, Alan). No hookers found :( 

Hooker lake with beautiful icebergs

Tasman valley

With Alan in front of the melting Tasman glacier 

After this day I was really happy that my visit to Mt Cook national park finally worked out well. Now I'm back in work, finishing the preparations for the winter season at Mt Dobson. Mat stayed with me for 2 more days to help us out with putting the chairs on the chairlift and probably will work with me at Mt Dobson during the winter season as well :) I will probably stay here one more week and then head off south to travel some new places and pick up skis that I bought before the winter season starts...

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mt Dobson ski area - dreamjob in godforgotten land

My wish and goal for the coming winter in NZ was to find a job in the ski resort in order to get to ski a bit finally (as I missed the winter season in Europe I'm really excited to go skiing again). So while Working in Christchurch I've sent applications to practically all ski resorts in NZ (might sound crazy, but in fact there is only around 12 of them :)). The first (and it tourned out that the only - my CV fakeing skills are probably still not good enough ;)) who replied was Peter from Mt Dobson ski area. After an interview he offered me a job as a lift operator for the winter season and also work on pre-seasonal preparations which I accepted as well. So currently I'm here with approx half of the work done and I must say that I really enjoy it and I found my own piece of peaceful paradise here. Most of the time I work only with Peter (now 71 year old man who once had a dream to run his own skifield and now does it for over 30 years already) on all kind of jobs around the skifield. The work is quite physical and hard, but being surrounded by such a beautiful nature just make me forget about everything.. 

This is the place. Look from the carpark (btw. highest carpark in southern hemisphere) on the slopes. The skifield is small in comparison to the european standards - There are only 3 lifts here - 1 chairlift, tbar lift and platter lift. Neveretheless the mountain looks really nice and I can't wait to make my first lines in the fresh powder here :)

View from the carpark down to the base of the chairlift. These pictures are maybe 2 weeks old, now the snow is pretty much all melted so it doesnt look that nice anymore, but at least it is more convenient for the work..

The way up to the skifield is incredible. It is 15 km ride on gravel road through the hills full of sheep cows and horses running away in front of your car. Btw. Before Peter and co. could start his skifield dream, he must had started from the bottom - by building the road. It took them 3 years (1976-1979) to get the road done.

As I wrote above, I get to do all kind of jobs around the skifield. Here hanging the t-bar hangers...

Fixing the receivers and transmitters on the top of the mountain to protect them from getting blown away...

Fixing the groomer and getting it up to the mountain..

Fixing the barriers... Peter has tons (I tried to count it and I got to number 25, but there are probably some more that I'm not aware of) of vehicles and machines (from quads, vans, trucks to graders, buldozers and groomers) on the skifield. So sometimes I have a little fun in the work to ride some of them.

On the days when the weather is too rough on the mountain I work in Peter's workshop on e.g. building snowgates out of old skis (it didnt feel right cutting the skis with a saw :/)

So, that's pretty much it from my current life. Apart from work it is really quiet as the town where I stay (Fairlie) is a town full of farmers, no backpackers or travellers whatsoever.. But I must say that I really enjoy the peaceful and quiet life here. 

Oh yes, and I work evenings 2 hours in a holidaypark in the office in exchange for free accommodation. So no more cold nights in the car :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Queenstown - enjoying the beauty with never-ending hangover

Queenstown. Finally I got here. I never met anyone who would say something different than superlatives about this place. And after spending my first week here I will need to do the same... The location of QT is just incredible - placed on a beautiful lake in a shape of letter S and surrounded by mountains on every side. But the location is not where it ends.. By QT being the mecca of the adrenaline sports in NZ, the town is full of young people, which obviously means lots of bars and clubs and any kind of sport/adrenaline/fun activities...   

QT from above. And nice demonstration why the Maori name for NZ is Aotearoa (land of the long white cloud). :)

View to the other side of the valley - NW direction.

QT town centre. Really small, but neat. And quite busy (for NZ and considering that it is between summer and winter season). After 2 days spent in QT I thought I could live here, but after 2 another days I was sure I definitely shouldn't (I guess the temptation of the bars being busy everyday and offering free drinks is just too strong for me to live normal life here :))

In QT I met many friends with who I spent summer in Mt. Maunganui. Unfortunately, only the guys made it to this group picture as it was done after the very dangerous luge race :))

The Luge track - quite sure there is not many kart racing tracks with this kind of view in the world..

1 week felt like 2 days (probably caused by the nonstop party) and I already need to leave. I'm starting my work in the Mt. Dobson ski-resort tomorrow for few weeks, but then I will definitely be back to QT for some more fun... 

I'm sorry that there are no more pictures to show.. The reason is that we only made it out two times during the daylight :D. The rest of the days was either bad weather or we spent it hungover in the hostel. Anyways, it was beautiful to see QT and to see the "old" friends and I'm already looking forward to come back...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Leaving Christchurch + Kaikoura trip

After more than 1 month in sad city of Christchurch, time has come to move and possibly try to have some fun after lot of working ;) Our destination after CHCH was the mecca of adrenaline sports and one of the most visited towns in NZ - Queenstown. Queenstown is really amazing place, but let me elaborate this in the next post. In this one I will get back to the last days in Christchurch.. As I wrote couple of times already, CHCH is really dead city and there is not much to do these days, but I must say that at the end I really enjoyed the time spent there and I will have a beautiful memories mainly thanks to the wonderful people I met there... 

On the day we were leaving CHCH we went to see the rugby superleague match. The local Crusaders (with couple of all blacks players in the team) destroyed the aussie team Brumbies. In NZ i became a big fan of rugby as I only realized here how tough, difficult and exhausting this sport is.  


International dinner in Christchurch - Czech goulash and beer, french pancakes or argentinian and finnish desserts in NZ - yummy. 

I tried to make halusky (the version with sour kraut as getting bryndza in NZ would be a tough challenge ;)) for the first time in my life and at the end it pretty much worked out, but it was a big pain in the ass (as you can see on my face expression) and next time I will think twice before I commit to do them again :)

During one weekend we made a trip to wonderful Kaikoura with couple of friends. Kaikoura is coastal area with big mountains almost right on the coast (going surfing with look on the peaks covered with snow was totally amazing). Kaikoura is famous for dolphin and whale spotting as the ocean is really deep (I think around 2kms) just few hundred meters away from the coast. On the picture is sunrise from the campspot we stayed at (the ocean view)

And here the sunrise with view on the mountains.

Kaikoura is flooded with seals. They are literally everywhere. There was even one massive  lazy seal lying in the middle of busy walkway not caring too much about the tons of people passing him by.

Mornings can't get much better than this, can they?

On the way from CHCH to Queenstown we stopped on Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki (although I have been here already during the Easter, but the boys and Miska have not) and although we havent been lucky to get the view with the Mt Cook, there were still some spectacular scenes to watch...

View from the church on Lake Tekapo

We've spent one night right on the base of Mt Cook hoping the weather will be good enough the next day for some small hike, but we woke up to a heavy consistent rain, so Mt Cook remains unseen for me... This sunset picture was made on the way to Mt Cook village around Lake Pukaki.

So, now we are here in Queenstown, with the best burger in NZ - Fergburger (possibly the best burger in my life. ahh) and a lot of "old" friends from Mt Maunganui. The weather was pretty shit the 3 days we spent here, but QT is fun and beautiful anyways. I only stay here until Sunday now, as I got the job in skiresort I was applying for, and they want me to work on preparations before it gets too much snow, but I will definitely come back to QT before my winter season job starts... More about QT in the next post. seeya ;)