Queenstown snowboarders Nick Hyne and Ben Ryan are living – and working – the dream.
They get to ride the slopes most days with their mates – and earn an income at the same time through their internet-based Diaries Down Under.
The savvy Gen Y pair are the brains behind “webisodes” that promote Kiwi riding and Queenstown skifields to the rest of the world.
They’re not the only ones producing short, regular snowboarding or skiing packages for the web but they’re Queenstown’s first and only – and they’re taking the internet world by storm.
Last year, the first season of DDU, seven webisodes were made and reached up to 50,000 online viewers via the Transworld Snowboarding website – “pretty much the biggest snowboarding magazine in the world, based in America”, Hyne says.
This year, the duo have secured money to make 10 webisodes, which will be streamed on transworldsnowboarding.com, European website www.method.tv, Aussie websites
transfersnowboard.com and the snowboardhub.com.au, plus ridesnowboards.com, nzsnowboard.com, snowflick.co.nz and nzski.com.
“Part of it is showcasing progressive snowboarding – we’re trying hard tricks up there … we want to show the world what is actually available just out of Queenstown,” Hyne explains.
Hyne, 25, who hosts DDU, first found himself in front of a camera in 2007 when cameraman/editor Ryan, 27, asked him to host a series for his snowboarding film company Reason Films to be aired on Method TV.
Realising the internet was the way forward, they pitched DDU to Transworld.
“At Transworld Snowboarding, their hits have gone crazy, no doubt, but it’s pretty much how people watch snowboarding now,” Hyne explains.
“DVD sales have declined, I think, because people can get so much content for free on the internet.
“The reason we like it is because the content is so current.
“At the oldest, the footage is a week to six weeks old – whereas making a movie to put out every year, the footage can be 10 months old and people have already known about it and forgotten about it.
“[What were] new tricks can become old news.”
DDU features local riders and Hyne’s buddies Jordan Rehrer, Nick Brown, Karl Dunham and Jake Koia.
“But it’s pretty much anybody – if somebody turns up and they get a good shot, we’re going to use it.”
With each webisode promoting NZSki’s Coronet Peak and The Remarkables to such a widespread audience through seemingly cost- effective means, it’s no wonder sponsors such as NZSki are eager to jump on board.
And that’s not lost on Hyne.
“It’s not too hard of a sell because it is relatively cheap for a s***load of exposure.
“The sponsors definitely get a good deal but it ensures we’re able to do what we love and show everybody and get some support while we’re doing it.
“We have a good distribution because we’re so close with our sponsors.”
Hyne and Ryan get a cut of the total money pool at the end of the season.
“I mean, I couldn’t feed a family on what I get from each episode but I can maybe feed myself,” Hyne says.
DDU could be the platform for a new-found career for Hyne.
“I definitely enjoy doing it, and I want to do something I enjoy for a career, so I guess this is a possibility but who knows what’s going to happen,” he says.
“I can’t see myself stopping snowboarding anytime soon. But the body might have its own agenda.”