Hello all you Tubers. Apologies from VNTRbirds for being huge slackers on getting the blog together and letting you know what we are doing! For the last few weeks in Wellington it has been rainy and windy. The key ingredients for no fun! Though, TUB pulled through and prevailed. Hanging out during the brief minutes of sunshine and creating games, playing hacky sack and anything else to keep them from going completely nuts!

Finally, Sunday the 16th, there was sun! TUB rounded up their crew – Tucker, Sumi, Megan, Dave and John – and were off to hike through Wellington to the wind turbine. This has been a destination that the birds have had their hearts set on for a while! So once 3 o’clock rolled around, everyone was finally ready to set out.  Walking down Adams Terrace and turning up the next street, the trail head was in sight. Tucker, who has already champed the trail, took the lead and everyone else fell in line. The dirt path was canopied by the lush trees creating some nice shade. Looking down, making sure that roots didn’t trip up the little bird feet, TUB could see tracks from different mountain bikers, and then they were startled from the actual bicyclists coming down towards them!



TUB soon lost the rest of the group being distracted by the sights of Wellington and the ocean. Jaime was on the clock and getting the shots while Kelley stood by admiring. Once the girls fluttered up to the top, the hacky sack was already out. The birds flew around the top for a quick lap of the panoramic view and then joined in on the fun. The wind made it difficult to get the full hacks and soon had the crew heading back down to get out of the cold. Sumi and Megan took the lead while the boys and birds killed some more time playing ‘botchy rock’ (rather than botchy ball). Once all the rocks were lost in the bush they all moved on and made it down before it got dark.



For the rest of the week, VNTRbirds just concentrated on getting their last bits of school work done and lived in the library on campus. Completing a writing portfolio and a 2,500 word essay, Jaime and Kelley were ready to shred over the weekend. Spending the days getting their gear together, packing and finishing chores Jade, a TUBscriber and friend, showed up at the birds’ flat, gave hugs all around and then helped the girls pack up the Subaru. TUB finally got a car ride that wasn’t packed to the brim, but it was full of conversation and stories the entire way up.

At about 9 o’clock Jade and Steve dropped off the girls at the Hobbit Motorlodge right in Ohakune. They got their own room that was just big enough for the bunked beds and a small side table. After touring around, the birds fluttered about in excitement as they discovered the outdoor hot tub that would be put to use right after the mountain the following day. Though, the girls had to be ready to go at 7:30 the next morning so the night chats were cut short and sleep was taken in.
That morning, Jaime and Kelley were up and ready, but the weather wasn’t as keen as they wished. The black Subaru pulled up and TUB packed in watching the thick white clouds take over the Turoa face of Mt. Ruapehu. VNTRbirds &co. were up to the mountain’s car park long before the lifts opened, so they all prayed for better weather to come in over a few cups of hot chocolate. Once people were spotted going up the lifts, the crew downed the last bits of their marshmallows and ran out to join in on the fun.

The first few laps were fast and convival. With two new friends to shred with, laughs were contagious and smiles never left their faces.  The clouds would settle in soon after and bring everyone down a notch, but whenever the park was clear it was TUB’s main destination. Mainly running the jump line, the clouds would settle again and throw the birds back over to the groomers. Once it was time for lunch TUB &co. cruised down to the car and munched on sandwiches while playing a little hackysack. Just an update for all you want to be hackers – hacking in snowboard boots makes you an instant all star. TRUTH!
After downing some caffeine, Jade’s son (who TUB only had FB conversations with) made his first appearance. After the quick hellos and sort of introductions, the birds threw him right into the hack game. Too bad for Lane, he had to soon get back to work parking cars in the far car park of Ruapehu while the birds flew back up to the top for more.

Around noon it started snowing, but then took it back and made rain instead. Bummer. But by the end of the day, TUB agreed it ended up being a successful one; fast shred, Jade learned some 180s and almost got her switch 1’s and new friends were made so effortlessly. Next step, HOT TUB!
VNTRbirds got back to the Hobbit at around 3-3:30 and changed right into their bathing suits and took the heated plunge. The girls enjoyed feeling the muscles in their wings relax and smiles were brought back to their beaks.

Soon after, TUB had their bird bath and dressed for the night ahead of them in town. Lane would be coming over again to share some shred talk and drinks. VNTRbirds, being classy birds, had some Gin and Tonics while Lane sipped on his bottle of wine. Once the wine was history it was time to stroll on into the heart of Kune, the junction. On the way TUB stopped and met up with a few of Lane’s homeboys – Cam, Alec and Manny – and then ended into the nearest bar for some pool. Kelley was paired off with Manny and Jaime with Lane. The birds were both on their game that night and enjoyed spending it with the crazy Kiwis.
Once they all trotted back to the Hobbit, the boys crashed on the tiny bit of floor that the girls could offer because they would be driving the birds to Whakapapa the next morning for the Wham Bam Park Jam!

The morning came with a loud knock on the door. Cam was outside waiting for everyone to get their gear together because it was time for a snowboard contest! Moving slowly, everyone finally packed up, the birds got their boards from Jade and Steve, were wished good luck and were off to the other side of Ruapehu.
Practice in the small park was until 12 o’clock and fun. Everyone seemed to be t enjoying themselves and the vibes were all positive. TUB &co. would meet at the bottom of the features each lap and then cruise up the t-bar together before another round.

Soon the sun was engulfed with a massive, fog of white. Not even being able to see the bright blue box about 30 feet in front of them, TUB hung around munching on snacks and chatting with other competitors. There would be brief moments of sunshine resulting in everyone bombing down to catch a lap in the park before it went away. The contest was then changed from a jam format to a slopestyle format. One by one the numbers and competitors were called. Four laps later it was over and the sun finally decided to come out to stay, good timing. Jaybird was announced the winner for the girls, winning a nice Vestal watch, Cam the winner for the guys and Alec for best (and only) flips during the contest.

Afterwards the four continued to hike the park and shred just as hard. Manny and his younger brother also joined in on the mix until everyone was just too tired to function. The only bad part of the day is that TUB &co. had to fit six people, six snowboards, 12 boots and all the other gear in a small vehicle (but what else is new?). The trip continued onto a huge green field and small white shack-like cabins that the boys currently live in. They might be small with no heat, or electricity, or even water, but they have a view that is unreal and a small river right in the back yard. Naturally, that was the first place TUB wandered over to. Being lead down the grass stairs and a small wooden ladder the girls took in the how lucky their lives are. Then, Kelley tested that luck by rock jumping around the river until she fell in.




Soon they were all back at the Hobbit and enjoying the hot tub. It was nice to have some company and recap the day together. That night was the finals for the Rugby World Cup and the New Zealand All Blacks were playing France. So the tub session didn’t last too long before everyone needed a shower and then get ready to watch France go down! Unfortunately, VNTRbirds were so wiped out from the day of shred, hiking and throwing a boomerang that before going out they settle for a quick power nap. This lead to disaster when Kelley woke up Jaime to head out into town and they realized it was already 1:30 AM! The game was more than over and TUB missed it!

Thankfully the All Blacks did conquer 8-7 and the girls got the rest they needed, because the next day had a lot of events planned. The sun rose and so did the birds. This time Lane and his friend Brent came to drive the girls. Everything was tossed in the blue Subaru and Turoa was looking nice and sunny.
Lane filled the girls in on the rugby game and continued on with the plans for the day. He pulled out his goPRO and the birds got excited for their day in the park waiting for them.

Without even a fast lap for warm up, TUB &co. went right into the park. Three rails up top that then flowed into the jump line. The snow conditions were packed and fast. Kelley finally spun that last step-up jump that has been taunting her all season and Jaime’s tail slide 270 out was well on its way. Jade and Steve came around for some fast laps, but soon scooted off for lunch. VNTRbirds continued to charge the park until hunger took them too. Sandwiches, granola bars and some hydration prepared them for their hike to the summit of Ruapehu and the Crater Lake.
Once packs were full of the essentials, water bottles got refilled and layers were left behind, the crew set up to the lift once again.


Without a cloud in the sky, the birds were feeding off of the sun’s energy as they trudged up the mountain. Following other hikers footpaths, the entire hike was up some snowy stairs. A fair few breaks were taken and sunscreen was reapplied before the last leg of the trip continued. After an hour and about 15 minutes they were all running towards the top. Standing along a thick crevasse and looking into this enormous bowl was a serene and perfectly still lake. Jaime and Kelley could not believe how huge the top of Ruapehu is! Pictures were taken and the girls ran around checking out all of the angles. TUB &co. ate some snacks to regain strength before the fresh line waiting for them back down to Turoa’s  snow field. Jaime was the first to drop back in, followed by Lane, Kelley and then Brent. In the middle a man from Austria recorded the run and sent it to their e-mails. Thanks Heinz!
The shred was unbelievable, with untouched snow that was soft and waiting for some attention. After the tiring run the lifts were already close, but it wasn’t even close to the end of TUB’s day. Lane took the girls to the snow cave on the right side of Turoa (looking up at the mountain). This cave is more like an underground home. All the little caverns were huge and tall enough to stand in. After signing the guess book in the front of the little cove and branding it with VNTRbirds the girls explored and started imagining their return trip to New Zealand.





Once they were ready to strap up again, TUB &co. realized that the parks were just freshly groomed by park crew for the end of the day. The crew couldn’t say no to the pristine take offs and the raked out landings, so a quick session was in order. Quick turned out to be hours of hiking and filming and trying all sorts of new tricks until everyone realized that it was now 7 o’clock and time to head down before it got dark. With a good 9 hours of heavy snowboarding behind them, VNTRbirds took off their boots to free their exhausted feet and stretched out. Everything got decently piled into the car and they were off – to McDonalds. Family pack of French fries (chips) and L&P’s later everyone was ready to get back to Wellington. At 1AM, TUB was welcomed home and hit their beds soon enough later.

Now the birds are in a hurry because they have one day at home to do laundry and repack before they are off to the Coromandel Peninsula up north for five days of beach, sun, fun and Jaime’s 21st birthday! Keep tuned in, remember we’re on facebook and twitter: @thumbsupbirds !