I wasn’t that excited when we set off for the traditional Kiwi winter weekend getaway to Mt. Ruapehu with my Filipino community. Days before the weekend trip, I already checked the forecast and it wasn’t looking good. Below zero, with gale southerlies. Ugh!!! But it’s already been decided that we will still push through. Good luck!
Before our snow weekend, the closest I’d come to snow was in South Island in Fox Glacier and Mt. Cook (the first time I saw snow-capped mountains—it was stunning even in summer!) and in Mt. Hood in Oregon, USA also in summertime (there was a bit of snow left in the mountains though).
Snow could have its disadvantages
I love the idea of snow but as we were attempting to go up the mountain, I started thinking that snow could be overrated. Why? These were my thoughts:
- It’s hard to drive in it
- You either need a four-wheel drive or chains to put in the tires of your car to provide maximum traction when driving through snow and ice
- You can get stranded or meet an accident if there’s a sudden blizzard or change of weather
- Roads are a slippery mess
- You would need to clear out the road and sidewalks from snow
- You can slip and fall over on ice
- You dress like a marshmallow to stay warm on snow
- You get chapped lips and dry, itchy skin
- Or worse, suffer from hypothermia or frostbite
- It’s just freezing!
- And so what? It’s just snow!
I started to dread snow even more as our group attempted to go up the ski field last weekend. I counted it—we encountered four obstacles before we got successful in going up the ski field!
First obstacle: It was in our itinerary that Saturday will be our ski field day. But we checked the Metservice advisory before we drove there: the roads are closed going up because the weather was so bad that day. So we rescheduled to go on Sunday and just went around Whanganui instead.
Second obstacle: We arrived at the bottom of Turoa ski field on Sunday but we were stopped as we need to have chains in the tires of our vans before we were allowed to enter. So our group decided to buy chains in a car shop in Ohakune.
Third obstacle: We couldn’t find chains that would fit the tires of our van as it started to get sold out since others are also looking for and buying chains.
Fourth obstacle: The sun started showing up around noon and we saw the advisory that Whakapapa ski field is already open. As we headed there, we got caught in traffic as a bus got stuck in the middle of the road.
Are these signs that we shouldn’t push through?! That something bad might happen?!
Or should we just give up and go home because snow is really overrated?!
The prize of not giving up on snow
We were already giddy as we slowly saw the winter landscape with a beauty of its own. While waiting, I stepped out the van as snow fell gently from the sky, for the first time feeling it tickle my face, urging me to stick out my tongue and taste it.
C’mon let’s not give up, we’re here already! I thought.
Thanks to my friends who were so patient and persistent. Eventually, the weather and the traffic cleared up and we were finally going up the mountain!
The sun is up, the sky is blue, everything glistens, sparkly white, as if a fairy has sprinkled dust and covered it with a pure white blanket over the mountains and the world.
Wait, it got even better up in the mountain.
The ski field was busy, bustling with happy people, long queues to the activities, the cafés were overflowing. My face and hands were numb yet it felt good. I walked carefully, making sure not step on icy patches on the road as I may slip. Out in the mountain, every step I took left footprints on the fresh snow. I was tempted to make a snowball but I was able to restrain myself. But this one I just had to do: I made a snow angel!
So, is snow overrated? Nope! I’m wrong!
While warm weather destinations are being glorified and patronised all around, it always seemed that winter destinations are not that great (for me at least). But I realised all seasons have its own redeeming qualities. The winter landscape has its unique beauty and there are activities you can enjoy during winter which you can’t do in the summer.
The beauty and the sensations that accompany snow are unforgettable. I guess snow now will always have profound effect on me no matter if it’s my first time or hundredth time to experience it. 🙂
Enjoy the photos!