Mount Hutt Ski Field - 25th February 2015
We went to a ski resort at the weekend.
Well actualy it's not much of a resort, but Mount Hutt is one of the largest ski fields in New Zealand, tucked away in the Sothern Alps behind Christchurch. The nearest accomodation is in Methven, which is down on the Canterbury plains, and while it gets the same occasional dusting of snow in winter that the rest of us enjoy, it generally lacks the snowbound ambience of a European resort.
But a ski field in the middle of summer?
It's unusual, but they open the field and operate the six seater chair so that walkers and mountain bikers can explore the runs free of snow. It's done for charity and organised by The Methven Lions - all proceeds to charity.
The first step is to drive the 26km road up from the plains - this is unsealed and a little bumpy, and in this weather (dry) every car throws up a dust cloud like an invading army. We all trundle along at about 30 to 40 kph around hairpins, over saddles and all the time the views are improving. Down below it's patchy cloud, but the road takes us above the clouds and the sky up here is mosty blue.
It's cooler up here, too, but not cold. There's little wind and the sun is unrelenting.
We leave the car and take to the chairlift. There are two queues, one for walkers and one for bikers. The bikers are going up one at a time, bikes held in front of them. Walkers go in groups of three to five.
It's apparent at once that this is quite different from a European resort. Apart from the lack of accomodation there are no trees. The whole basin is clothed in scree and appears quite grey and charmless. There are one or two patches of tussocky grass, looking quite yellow after many dry weeks. The lift deposits us at the top, and we are now quite high, though at just over 2000m it's not high for a ski resort.
I can't say that it was a great walk - an hour of careful stepping down various gradients on loose gravel and scree - but the views over the plains were good, and from the top you can look out over the peaks of the Southern Alps behind Mount Hutt