UN­DER the snow dome

Go Travel New Zealand - - Auckland - by Julie Ann Po­mana

I was in­trigued when a friend in­vited me to check out the Face­book page for Snow­planet – I had no idea Auck­land is home to New Zealand’s only year-round in­door snow re­sort. The tim­ing of this dis­cov­ery was spot on as my fam­ily was due for a week­end adventure, and we had al­ready de­cided upon Auck­land.

Mhus­band reg­u­larly vis­its on busi­ness and of­ten sug­gested we segue busi­ness into plea­sure and ex­plore the city. It had been a few sea­sons since we had skied, and we had al­ways meant to take our now ten-year-old son, so a day at Snow­planet be­came the fo­cal point of our trip. We had the con­ve­nience of a rental car, and it was an easy com­mute from down­town Auck­land to Sil­verdale. How­ever, there are buses reg­u­larly run­ning through­out the day and evening too. I sur­prised our son, Liam by book­ing a snow­board­ing pack­age for him and me which in­cluded equip­ment hire and a 50-minute les­son. I have al­ways skied, but the op­por­tu­nity to learn to snow­board in a con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment was too good to miss. Walk­ing in I was blown away by the scale of the re­sort; so much snow and the familiar sound of the plat­ters as they steadily trans­port peo­ple up the en­tic­ing 200 me­tre slope - it re­ally feels like step­ping into win­ter. The snow was in top con­di­tion – it is pro­duced twice weekly and kept at a chilly -5 de­grees. We were all keen to get started on our day. My hus­band Greg was quickly sorted as he had brought his own ski gear and once he pur­chased his pass he was soon wav­ing to us from one of the plat­ters as he headed up. The staff in rentals were friendly and pro­fes­sional and took the time to make sure us new­bies knew how to ad­just our bind­ings and that ev­ery­thing was the right fit. We were in luck as our in­struc­tor Justin was free to take us for our les­son as soon as we were kit­ted out with gear. The ride up to the be­gin­ner area is via a magic car­pet – the most user-friendly tow as all you do is stand on it, and it gen­tly trans­ports you up. My son thought it was fan­tas­tic. I must con­fess that be­ing new to snow­board­ing I had not rel­ished the thought of tack­ling ei­ther of the two plat­ter tows with­out first get­ting a han­dle on how to ma­noeu­vre my board! Justin had an awe­some at­ti­tude and set my son, and I at ease im­me­di­ately; his mission was clearly to share his pas­sion for snow­board­ing and in­stil in us both good, solid tech­nique.

Fifty min­utes flew by and at the end of it I felt ready to ride the plat­ter up the 200-me­tre long slope. It was well worth it and af­ter a few runs my con­fi­dence grew and my tech­nique im­proved. Liam was do­ing bet­ter than me, and Greg teamed up with him to do a few runs. An hour later Greg and Liam were buzzing about their morn­ing as we headed to the 7 Sum­mits Restau­rant to grab some much-needed re­fresh­ments. It felt like luxury to have the restau­rant on hand – the lay­out was ideal with a full view of the an­tics in the snow dome and it was an un­ex­pected bonus to still feel part of the ac­tion while tak­ing a break. As I was look­ing over the ex­ten­sive menu, I overheard a Canadian guy rav­ing about his pizza, and my choice was made. Greg and Liam chose beef burg­ers with the Swiss choco­late fon­due (for two) for dessert. I was feel­ing fam­ished, and I was pleased when our food soon ap­peared. My Moroc­can beef pizza was the best I have tasted, and af­ter a hot choco­late I felt re­plen­ished and rar­ing to get back out on the slope.

The rest of the day flew by, and I lost count of the num­ber of runs I got in. Gregg and Liam hired tubes and had a blast rac­ing each other, oc­ca­sion­ally bail­ing out but al­ways ac­com­pa­nied by hoots of laugh­ter. Snow­planet is a great place to pick up a new skill or, like my hus­band, re­fine ones you al­ready have. The con­ve­nience of rental equip­ment, lessons and re­fresh­ments all on hand can’t be beaten. I would go again in a heart­beat – whether as a fun fam­ily day out or a way to lim­ber up and get ready to hit the moun­tains. The at­mos­phere is like a win­ter fes­ti­val – ev­ery­one is hav­ing fun and on a high about do­ing what they love. We all agreed that next time we would check out the re­sort on a Fri­day night when their world-class ter­rain park with its rails, jumps and jibs takes over the slope un­til mid­night. I am pic­tur­ing my­self en­joy­ing this spec­ta­cle from 7 Sum­mits over a glass of Sau­vi­gnon of course! GTNZ

Snow Planet free ski ac­tion

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