LPP New Zealand – The Club Fields
Last winter was amazing. It was game on from the Rockies to the West Coast. The snow was abundant, the drought in California is over and the reservoirs are all filled up. We had powder days on powder days on powder days. As good as it was, I feel like I missed out last season. The weather fulfilled its role but I wasn’t fully recovered from my knee injury. I wasn’t able to ski the way I was used to. It just wasn’t quite there. It wasn’t the same. Once the season ended, I wasn’t satisfied.
I decided to chase the snow and ski down south. I originally thought about heading to Argentina but instead I decided on returning to Zealand. I spent a season working there way back in 2003 and it was about time I returned!
I went to NZ to ski but also to dive a little deeper into New Zealand Ski culture. Most people know about Wanaka and Queenstown and maybe Mt Hutt. These are the kinds of ski areas most of us are familiar with. Charlifts, snowmaking, groomed runs and big lodges full of coffee bars, pastries and inoffensive music. But there’s another side of the Kiwi ski scene that you may not know about. The Club Fields.
What’s a Club Field? The Club Fields or Clubbies, as they are affectionately called, are small, non profit ski areas operated by membership groups. With many of them you can trace their origins back to the 1950’s and some even earlier. They are the antithesis of the commercial resort. The amenities are basic but perfectly adequate, the vibe is relaxed and the skiing can be the best you’ve ever experienced. Keep this in mind. If think that basic means easy, you would be mistaken. You earn your turns on the club fields in every aspect. You earn them on the trip to the hill You earn them in lodge washing dishes, sweeping floors or cleaning toilets. You earn your turns bootpacking your lines.
This episode is made up of of two conversations I had with long time Club Field skiers and old friends. I got them to give me their take on what the New Zealand ski scene is about.
To finish the episode I spoke with Dion Newport and Sam Smoothy who were running a Freeride World Qualifier event at Mt Olympus.