Words and Tina Vainola @tina.vainola
images by Tina Vainola @tina.vainola
“Without all of this, it would just be another stock standard Saturday.”
It’s a freezing Saturday morning, in July, and your alarm starts blaring at 4.30am. It’s that same annoying tune that you have playing from Monday to Friday. The worst part is, you know it’s the weekend but the alarm was deliberately set – why do this to yourself?
At that ungodly hour, your brain can’t come up with a logical answer, and yet you drag yourself out of bed anyway. You pull on a set of thick thermal layers, make an extra-strong coffee, load the car, and then set off into the darkness.
It’s not until sunrise comes that you remember why you endure this self-inflicted pain – when the winter sky turns from jet black to purple and the snow-capped ridges start glowing white. Without all of this, it would be just another stock-standard Saturday.
Here in Aotearoa, we are not blessed with the fluffy powder of Japan, the reliable precipitation of Canada, or the immense terrain of the United States. And, unless you live in the Queenstown-Lakes District, you probably also have to get up at some ridiculous hour just to secure a coveted spot at the top car park. Yet, we do have it pretty good here – sometimes it’s just about picking the right mountain.
Snowsports can be costly to get into, but are so worth it. There is something special about being in the snow and looking at those outlandish vistas, mighty mountains, and everchanging landscapes. Hitting the snow does usually come with a few bruises and sore muscles, and exposure to the elements often ends up in sun and wind burn, but the experiences you get are worth the price of admission.
Snowsports can be costly to get into (and the bruises can add up too) but the experiences you get are worth the price of admission.
“ There is something special about being in the snow... 
Should you succeed in forcing yourself to get up early and brave the chills, you will most likely catch the ‘snow bug’ and start thinking of winter as an exciting time of year, rather than the miserable season that we’re all taught to dread.
One thrill-seeking soul who has caught the snow bug big time is Ally Osborne, a carpenter by trade who loves to play in the snow. I caught up with Ally to ask her some questions about snowboarding.
What got you into snowboarding?
The main reason was moving to New Zealand from the UK. My friends have been snowboarding and inviting me for years to go to the mountains of Europe, but I never did because I was surfing instead. After moving to New Zealand, I met some people who snowboarded, went up with them once and realised what I’ve been missing out on. I’ve never looked back.
Has it taken you a while to pick up since you were familiar with surfing?
Nah coming from surfing meant the transition was easy, and I picked it up my first season – in fact, I was riding park by the end of that season. It didn’t take me too long to catch up to mates who have been riding from a young age.
One thing I love about snowboarding is that it’s quite a social sport. In surfing, you never really see your mates riding the whole wave. But when snowboarding with a group of people, you see what everyone does, it’s like one massive party wave!
Sometimes, it’s just about pickng the right mountain.
There are quite a few places to go around the country. Have you stuck to one mountain all this time?
Progress is quicker when you ride with people who push you outside your comfort zone.
I started at Mt Hutt and then, after moving to Cromwell, the Remarkables became my home mountain. It has a variety of terrain and a well-constructed park. That’s where most of my progression happened. It helps when you ride with a group of people who are constantly pushing you to do better and try something outside of your comfort zone.
Are there any downsides to snowboarding?
You’ve gotta pay to play; injuries are a part of the process. I have fractured my tailbone, landed on rocks, and bruised my leg from ankle to butt cheek, among other injuries. Not ideal – especially when you have work on
Monday… Have you had lots of epic days without injuries?
Any day up the mountain is a good day, but powder days are the days you dream of, when you get a dump of fresh snow. Many people ride the easy stuff until it’s ripped, so that’s when you go higher to the bluffs to find untouched snow.
Do you have many sick days up your sleeve?
I’m lucky my boss is accommodating when the conditions are right, so I don’t often miss out. Although I have to make up the time afterwards, it’s still worth it!
Sounds like a pretty sweet deal. Do you have any words of advice for anyone new to snowboarding?
“ Any day up the mountain is a good day, but powder days are the days you dream of... 
On the best days, the winter sky turns from jet black to purple.
Don’t eat yellow snow! Nah but seriously, you are never too old to start a new hobby and learn some new tricks.
So, there you go – if you ever find yourself miserable in the middle of winter with no fishing, hunting or other offsite options available, head up to the mountain and give it a go. I guarantee you won’t regret it.