Real NZ - Club Fields 04, 05, 06

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Real NZ - Club Fields 04, 05, 06

Postby Feral - NZ » Tue Oct 02, 2007 7:24 pm

Hi Everyone - Welcome to the best kept secret in New Zealand

Many people come to New Zealand and end up spending weeks on crowded commercial resorts. The real NZ however can be found in the Canterbury Club Fields.

These clubs fields are the perfect place to have the time of your life. You will meet great people and have great skiing also. Skiers stay on the field in small communal huts of about 50. Usually those 50 people will be the only people skiing the mountain! After a storm, quite often there is no access to the field so it is just the people in the hut skiing the field.

These fields not only have a great feeling to them but also have some of the most extreme terrain in New Zealand. Craigieburn is 45% advanced and 55% intermediate and steep all the way down. Most fields have about 400-500m vertical accessed by a couple of high speed rope tows.

In February this year I skied Alta and Snowbird and had some awesome snow but by the end of the day it was mostly tracked out. Here it takes at least 5 days for the mountain to become tracked out!

The club fields in Canterbury:
- Mt Olympus (best in my opinion) ':wink:')
- Craigieburn Valley (most extreme field in NZ)
- Broken River
- Temple Basin
- Mt Cheeseman

Most club Fields run on nutcrackers - a belt with a clamp which you attach to the rope. Nutcrackers can be quite hard work if new to them but shouldn't be too much of a hassle.
The club fields are best between early August and mid September as there is very little grooming and no snow making.

I encourage anyone coming to New Zealand for skiing to try a ski week at a club field as you will find places with a real heart and soul to them.

As I write this, the Broken River snow report shows that 75cm of Snow had fallen in the last 2 days!

I have plenty of photos from the last few years and here is a rich selection.
Attachments
Nutcracker.jpg
No High Speed 6-seaters here....just the Nutcrackers!
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Craigieburn in bounds skiing
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MTo.jpg
At one stage at Mt Olympus the snow was so deep at Olympus we actually had to dig a tunnel through the snow at a different exit to the Hut
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Broken.jpg
Looking up from the bottom tow at Broken River
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Mt olympus.jpg
Digging out the bottom of the tow at Mt Olympus - done this several times and at the end of one week we had to be taken off the mountain by a heli
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BR1.jpg
Broken River looking down towards bottom
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BR.jpg
Broken River Upper Mountain
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Hut.jpg
A common sight on the club fields
Hut.jpg (10.62 KiB) Viewed 7880 times
Last edited by Feral - NZ on Tue Oct 02, 2007 9:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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re: Real NZ - Club Fields 04, 05, 06

Postby Admin » Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:02 pm

So I've heard. Funny, but sometimes it feels up here, too, that the soul of skiing is at the mom 'n pop rope tow hills.

Man, oh man...love the pics. Thanks for sharing!
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re: Real NZ - Club Fields 04, 05, 06

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Oct 03, 2007 11:04 am

I get a weekly e-mail with a link to this http://www.snow.co.nz/snowreports/report_index.asp . Broken River is the only club area currently operating. Does it get more snow than the others? My general recollection was that the club areas were only open a few weeks this year, and with natural snow bases usually under 100cm and that type of terrain I do have to question how good the skiing was. The Mt. Potts snowcat skiing, also in Canterbury, seemed similarly restricted this year.

I don't want to come off as negative here. I've skied NZ in 3 different seasons, and if I go back I want to make a special effort to check out some of the club areas, as they are unquestionably one of skiing's unique experiences. But I suspect snow reliability is such that it's one of those situations where you want to wait for a good year before making the trip. What season(s) are the pictures from?

It's great to see local posts from NZ. Hopefully we'll see them regularly in future years to see how the seasons are progressing.
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re: Real NZ - Club Fields 04, 05, 06

Postby Feral - NZ » Wed Oct 03, 2007 4:46 pm

There is no doubt that the club areas have very good years and very bad years and this year was without a doubt one of the worst! The fields seem to have 2 good seasons for every 1 bad season so there is a bigger risk of getting poor snow here than on a commercial field.

In NZ most fields are tussock so a 1 mete base is enough to fully cover 90% of the area.

These pictures are from the last two times I visited, 2004 at Olympus and 2006 at Craigieburn when the fields enjoyed 2+ meter bases and I have had a poor season at Cheeseman in 2003. In 2004 there was 1+ meters of snow the week before we arrived so we spent the first 2 days digging out the tows.

I would recommend trying to time yourself with a good season but even if you don't, a ski week at a club field is an unparalleled experience.
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re: Real NZ - Club Fields 04, 05, 06

Postby Tony Crocker » Wed Oct 03, 2007 6:11 pm

I would have suspected 2004 by reputation. 2006 was the good year that I skied in late August, but there was almost no new snow after that, similar to South America this year. 2005 was very bad by the stats I got last year.

I saw lots of tussocks at Coronet Peak and Treble Cone in 1982 and 1997. My impression from Mt. Hutt in 1982 was that Canterbury ski terrain is rockier.

By reported base depths and my observation, snowfall in Canterbury areas is no more than Treble Cone's Saddle Basin. But Saddle Basin has quite interesting skiing on not a huge snowpack. Frontside of TC (particularly lower half) has chronic coverage issues and needs the snowmaking to ensure skiing to the base.
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re: Real NZ - Club Fields 04, 05, 06

Postby Feral - NZ » Wed Oct 03, 2007 9:32 pm

From about mid September onwards top to bottom coverage in New Zealand is limited to groomers at the bottom. Some areas (Treble Cone , Ruapehu) often have congestion problems on key access groomers at the end of the day.

Mt Hutt is different from the club fields which are predominately tussock like Treble Cone. The other thing to note is that often Hutt will get 50cm and the club fields nothing and vice versa.

Treble Cone often has problem holding full coverage below 1500m
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re: Real NZ - Club Fields 04, 05, 06

Postby ChrisC » Tue Oct 09, 2007 10:49 pm

I've heard a lot about the club fields.

Is it simple for an outsider just to show up and ski?

and then another question...

Why are so many New Zealand areas located/developed in the snow poor sections of the country?

I have traveled the south island and watched the rain dry up as you cross from the west coast over Haast Pass. Yet all the major areas are located beyond this precipitation line/crest. I have got believe the snow differential is 2-3x. Why is nothing located on the west coast?
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re: Real NZ - Club Fields 04, 05, 06

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Oct 09, 2007 11:44 pm

Yet all the major areas are located beyond this precipitation line/crest. I have got believe the snow differential is 2-3x. Why is nothing located on the west coast?
Great question, and one I've wondered about since 1982. When you visit Fiordland you can see that its climate is like Washington's Olympic peninsula, with glaciers coming down to medium elevation, and thick forest with lots of moss and ferns below that. Meanwhile the data I acquired last year shows snowfall averages of 191 inches at Mt. Hutt, 134 at The Remarkables and 94 at Coronet Peak.

My guess is the issue of road accessibility. Coronet Peak has the only paved ski area access road on South Island. Everywhere else you must ascend 3,000 - 4,000 feet on gravel. A new ski area must build its own road, which we were told took 2 years in the case of the Remarkables.

This is why Treble Cone is spending big $ to build an access gondola from the valley floor. Of course I'd like to see those $ spent to push the lifts farther west into the mountains. As I mentioned elsewhere, TC's snow is much better in Saddle Basin than on its frontside farther east. TC management said that if the gondola brings in more business they are likely to put another lift into Gottlieb Basin west of Saddle Basin. But even that is still well east of the crest.

Even the Harris Mt. heliskiing is usually in the mountains surrounding Lake Wanaka and not farther west. My guess is that snowiest area you can ski in NZ is the Alpine Guides heliskiing just south of Mt. Cook.

But considering that Euro developers were willing to come in and build Las Lenas in the middle of nowhere, it does surprise me that no one has given it a shot in NZ high country.
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re: Real NZ - Club Fields 04, 05, 06

Postby Feral - NZ » Thu Oct 11, 2007 3:50 pm

Club Fields
It is really for an outsider to turn up and ski. All you need to do is book. The other thing to note is that quite often, the clubs have school truants weeks and university student weeks which you probably want to avoid. Apart from that, the place will welcome you.

The most important thing to realise is that in order to enjoy the club fields you need to stay in the hut, even just for a weekend.

The best option for someone new the the club fields is to contact Black Diamond Safaris who can arrange everything for you - and find you the best snow.


West Coast Skiing
The reason why there are no fields on the West coast is for three reasons:

1 - the entire west coast is one big national park so you cannot put any roads or gondola's into such areas. Fiordland is very much like the Olympic Peninsula (from what I know) but much bigger and wetter. Snowfall in parts of Fiordland area is 500+ inches! It is also a World Heritage Area so it would be very tough to get consent to put a road or gondola into that area.

2 - access to ski fields in New Zealand is quite rough and like you said, it took The Remarkables 2 years to build their road.

3 - the west coast and Fiordland have some of the highest rainfall in the world so if there was a ski resort it would not be open often enough. This is the other reason there is no heli skiing.



Treble Cone
Gottlieb Basin at Treble would be amazing terrain to open but it does not hold snow late in the season. I was there two weeks ago and a lift would not have been open in that area at that time.
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Re: re: Real NZ - Club Fields 04, 05, 06

Postby ChrisC » Mon Oct 15, 2007 11:50 pm

I liked New Zealand a lot.

However, I came away less than impressed with the ski facilities when visiting in Southern hemisphere summer. I only went paragliding off of Coronet Peak...but looking at the mountain. Hmmm. I did not feel a need to return or ski it.

Even talking/questioning the locals in the ski stores in Queenstown. The conversation went back in forth. But eventually they directly said "why would you come ski here if you have Tahoe in your backyard?"

While there is a lot to love about NZ, I do not think I would ever ski there. Unless I had to take a winter trip. The heli skiing seems unreal.

Restrictions seemed difficult in NZ with work visas, proving no other Kiwi can do the job, no development, slow roads.......yet it will massively pay off in 2150 when over-population is a global problem.

But some development of your class-A mountain might help the South Island a bit in the now.
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re: Real NZ - Club Fields 04, 05, 06

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Nov 15, 2007 11:43 am

http://www.snow.co.nz/media/media_newsl ... terId=5704 .

New Zealand is a good example of what Patrick describes as "not better or worse, just different." Coronet Peak in particular, with its snowmaking dependence yet unique terrain.

Objectively New Zealand lift service probably rates overall with Vermont. The ski areas are in the same ballpark in size. More steeps, open bowls, no trees. Snowfall and length of season are less than Vermont on average. Surface conditions? Fewer big powder days in NZ but also fewer horrible bulletproof days also. Much lower skier density probably plays a significant role in preserving snow better.

I still have the nagging feeling that there's another potential Las Lenas in NZ if they could develop in the right place. But I'm inclined to believe Feral that it's not likely to happen.
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Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
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