I just realized I still haven’t written about the ski trip I did three weekends ago… shame on me.
I attended the Beginners Weekend of the University of Auckland Snowsport Club (UASC), together with a couple of friends of mine (Alison, Elysia and Dan if I remember correctly). We started somewhere around 5:30pm at Friday and arrived safely at Whakapapa (pronounced “Fakapapa”) late evening, thanks to our driver Tom! (who also was our ski teacher, but more on that later).
Whakapapa is located at Mount Ruapehu, which is an active volcano… and was used to film some Mount Doom scenes in the Lord of the Ring movies! (Yeah, I know: “New Zealand? Isn’t that the country where they shot Lord of the Rings?”)
We were staying at the own lodge of the ski club, which was really cool and literally less than 5 minutes away from the lifts and the ski rental. I didn’t sleep well the first night though… maybe because I’m just not the biggest fan of sleeping bags :P Anyway, we got up early the next morning to enjoy a full day of skiing… at least that was the plan… a plan the weather didn’t comply to. It was all foggy that morning, and so we decided to not start skiing before lunch (half-day skiing pass is cheaper). After lunch Tom took Elysia and me to the beginners’ slope (everybody else on the beginners weekend apparently wasn’t a beginner) to teach us how to ski. At first I felt really insecure on the skis, but I did a lot better at the end of the day. Actually this wasn’t my very first time on skis. I skied twice in my life for one day each, where my good friend Julian showed me some basics. But it was really helpful to get instructions from an actually ski instructor this time.
Back at the lodge I had an awesome night with approximately 30 people from all over the world (some Europeans as well, but no Germans). We had to dress up in a funny way (they had a big box with all kinds of stuff for that) and do a bunch of small competitions, mostly involving alcohol, with prizes to win. I won a pair of thermal underpants in the broom spinning game (link – sorry to all Germans, the video seems to be blocked in Germany because of the stupid GEMA). Other examples of competitions are “ass on ice” and “catwalk” :P
Oh, I also have to mention this one: before dinner that day (which was awesome, the people on dinner duty – everybody got a duty at the lodge – cooked for hours) we played a game similar to “Activity”, featuring a card called “Cloodle” (which has nothing to do with the urban dictionary definition, as I just checked), which apparently sounds really funny when I pronounce it :P At least everybody was laughing every time I did it (so I started to look for this card intentionally ^^).
The next day we had more luck regarding the weather. It was a clear sunny day… which, as I have been told, doesn’t happen very often in that area. This day I bought a full day all mountain pass, because I wanted to check out the more advanced slopes. After a few warm-up rounds on the beginners’ slope I tried the “Rockgarden”, which was supposed to be the next step after beginners’. This slope was more versatile, with really narrow track-like parts and some rocks (obviously)… and partially really steep (for a beginner). In contrast to the beginners’ slope (where I didn’t hit the snow at all) I fell down a lot on this one. One time I even crashed into a ski instructor… and even though he apologized, I’m pretty sure it was my fault entirely. I guess I would have been a lot more confident on this slope, if it hadn’t been so crowded.
After lunch back at the lodge, Hamish (one of the guys I met at the lodge) showed me some other slopes higher up on the mountain… which were as exciting as scary, because of really steep (and partially icy) parts. As a final run we got all the way up and followed a really long track back to the bottom, I guess 20 to 25 minutes, which was awesome.
At the end of the day we packed our stuff and headed back to Auckland… well, after we managed to get the van out of the parking spot :P We had to shovel some gravel and dirt behind the tires to finally get back on the street.
Since my camera is way to big to carry it around on skis I don’t have many pictures of the landscape, which really bugs me, because the view from the top of the mountain (2200m, way above the clouds) was absolutely breathtaking. I have some pictures of the lodge and the view around the lodge though:
Shortly after 3am in the WSA: “Good morning, this is a fire alarm. Please stand by. *siren*” (as a side note: friendliest fire alarm I experienced so far)
So we left the building, the staircase filled with half tired and half drunk people (and linear combinations of both). The firefighters had already arrived and were entering the building… using the elevator!
After a while it turned out that someone tried cooking drunk and messed up… stealing my sleep! Big time.
PS: We have a cleaning inspection due tomorrow. I’m curious if it will be as ridiculous as I heard :P
I have to tell you about one thing I forget to mention before: getting “ID’d”.
It is kind of annoying me… either because I’m allowed to drink beer in Germany for over eight(!) years now… or because the only legal proof of age I got around here is my passport.
Nearly every pub/bar/whatever got a sign saying something like this: “We are required to request identification from everyone who looks under the age of 25, and the only forms of identification accepted are a valid New Zealand or overseas passport, a valid New Zealand driver license, or a valid 18+ card”
A couple of times they accepted my German ID card, but one time I was really close to not getting any alcohol at all :P For the pub night on Thursday I brought my passport, because otherwise I would not even get in. But I hate carrying my passport with me… it is bulky, does not fit in my wallet and it would be a pain in the ass loosing it!
So basically my only long-term option is getting one of those 18+ cards (or starting to look 25 or older). I already applied for a 18+ card, which involved filling out a form, getting an appropriate ID picture (apparently the ones I brought from Germany are to small), getting a “proof of address” and getting the signature of a Justice of Peace. But since I won’t get the 18+ card for another two or three weeks, I probably have to bring my passport a couple of more times. Sucks.
The missing roommate moved in today. A girl from the States, also from the east coast… Massachusetts, if I remember correctly. So the final setup is: a girl and a dude from the States, a girl from Canada and a girl from Germany… and me obviously :P
So this evening my American roommates took me to another apartment to hang out with a couple of other people from the States… so basically there were 12 people from America, one girl from Ireland… and me. I didn’t really get everything that was said this evening, but I learned an American drinking game and a couple of “kinky” words :P
But now I have to go to sleep… because of the orientation stuff starting tomorrow.
I got a new roommate yesterday, a dude. This one is from the United States, Connecticut actually (that’s where the character Elliot in the show Scrubs is from).
We also were at a pub yesterday (and the day before yesterday) where we watched a rugby game and tried local beer… yeah… i don’t really like it :P If you are used to drink great German beer, it’s difficult to get exited about the stuff they got here. Well, at least it is a lot better than beer from the States, according to the American/Canadian people around here. So I had a lot of Cider, because I can’t really get those in Germany… and it’s about the same price as beer around here.
Well… and about rugby… I’m not sure what to think about rugby yet ^^ I guess it gets more exciting if you actually know the rules :P But the people around here get as excited about rugby as we get about football (European football!), so there has to be something behind it ;)
Good night Germany.