UNDER the snow dome
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