The day the whole world (Queenstown) stood still


In Brazil, they stop for soccer. In Spain, it’s for bullfighting. No doubt Scotland stood still for five hours this week when Andy Murray won the US Open tennis final. In Queenstown, we stop for powder days. 

So no doubt many of you started yesterday just like me – bounding out of bed, peeking out the window and then furiously packing the car with ski gear. First Tracks was calling. 

It was a powder day of the highest order. 

I selfishly race out the door. My wife may have been looking at me disgustedly as I left her to sort out the kids – but I was in a bit of a rush so couldn’t be sure. 

I get to the car park at Coronet Peak around 7.40am and surprise, surprise the first one is full. 

On go the boots and despite my haste I remember to lock the car. One of my staff trudges up past me with a snowboard under her arm. 

Don’t engage with her, don’t ask what she’s doing, don’t care. 

I load my Mypass card up with a First Track session and rip up the base building stairs to meet my mate Dougal. 

Ask where his wife is and he replies: “I left my pregnant wife at the top of the lift, it’s a powder day”. 

Think to myself “good decision, powder days wait for no one”. 

Off the lift we blast down Exchange Drop with blatant disregard for hazards knowing the perfect storm during the past few days have delivered a motherlode of white gold. 

Pull up at the bottom of the four-seater grinning like a fat kid on Smarties knowing we have an epic morning ahead. The conditions are mint. It seems like half of Queenstown is up here, including kids who probably should be in school – not to mention a bunch of people who obviously have the day off work. 

Join the lift queue and hook up with another local lad making the most of it. 

Chairlift conversation centers around what time we have to be at work and where to get the next fresh line. We decide to tear off down Exchange Drop again, but this time with even a little more enthusiasm than the first now that we know for sure there are no hazards. 

With legs burning and still peaking on adrenalin we ski back onto the four seater almost immediately. 

The local states: “So there’s no mucking around then…” while gasping to catch his breath. 

A couple more runs and the liftie gives us the nod that the six-seater has just opened. 

We momentarily discuss forgoing some tracked powder and just ripping over there and tearing up the piste in order to get there faster in the hope of more freshies. 

The off-piste is just too tempting so we peel off down toward the six. 

On the chair heading up the local lad informs us he’d heard there was so much snow and blasting needed at Remarkables, it would be reminiscent of a war zone. 

It’s certainly one of those days out of the box. For the entire morning we rip it, shred it, slice it and dice it. I almost kill myself twice, and Dougal once, such is the reckless abandon with which we’re able to zip around up there. 

Yep, it’s the sort of day that reminds you why you live here.