This week at VNTRbirds, the office has been hustling and bustling! Well, it would be if there was an office to hustle and bustle in, but either way this past week has been a good one! Spring break for the birds is coming up very quickly making for some excitement around the flat. This whole week was dedicated to the planning, booking and budgeting of their trip to the South Island. Yes, fights were had and panic attacks came in full force, but the girls powered through with a lot of help from their one other companion on the trip, Oliver. Before TUB leaves the security of Wellington for their week of freedom, the itinerary will be posted so everyone will be able to follow along with the travels. Also, so TUB can see how much was changed from the original plan to what actually happened on the road!

Finally, VNTRbirds gave their minds and maps a break from planning and started packing, because well, it was Friday; Mt. Ruapehu was soon in sights once again! This time around, Jonathan’s spot in Ben’s tin can was replaced with Tucker, TUB’s good friend and neighbor. Along with Tucker, the three Auckland boys would be meeting up to see what these birds have been up to every weekend.

Planning on camping once again, Kelley was making sure she had all of her warmest gear, preparing for the crowded car ride when suddenly Jaime ran into the room with the best news! Remember those boys the girls met their first trip to Ruapehu? Well, a cousin of theirs was coming up and owned a little cabin that was offered to the girls for a free stay. Naturally, the birds fluttered around the room in excitement and accepted with images of a nice warm bed, toilets and showers, and a place to sip wine during the All Blacks, rugby match the next night. Stoked for everything set ahead of them, VNTRbirds went out to the sidewalk, met up with Tucker and loaded Ben’s Mazda.


The only down side to the free accommodation was that the girls would have to wait until 1 o’clock in the morning to be picked up and move themselves in. Though, this was totally doable with the five boys to kill time with. Arriving at the LKNZ Backpackers, everyone was soon in shock about how nice this hostel was. Colorful painted walls, quaint little bunked rooms and a ping pong table ready for game time. Everyone settled down in their own little nooks, Ian playing the piano, two boys playing ping pong, a few in the lounge looking at the TV no one could figure out how to work and so on. Midnight came and the girls were soon getting antsy to check out their own accommodation, but one came soon enough and the girls were off in a Subaru to their mountain cabin.

This cabin was gorgeous! A large living room, kitchen, main bed room and a lofted upstairs that was furnished with three single beds; all decorated with old skis, framed trail maps from all around the world, including Canada and Colorado, and old ski posters. Only a few kilometers from Turoa, this was Thumbs Up Bird’s dream home.
Coming in so late, the girls had a quick introduction to the cousin and friend, then claimed their spots, set their alarms and quickly fell fast asleep.


A 6:45AM wakeup call seemed like nothing to the birds. They rose without complaint, dressed, and started scrabbling up some eggs for their breakfast. Leaving for the mountain by 7:30, TUB was ecstatic for the terrain park they have been oogling at online for days now. Pulling into car park one, the sun was trying to peep out over the mountain peak to settle in the blue bird sky. Kelley and Jaime snagged their equipment met up with some of the boys and headed towards the lifts. Being there so early, the girls were lucky enough to get ‘first chair’, well more like fifth chair, but either way, it was early.

Starting with a fast lap to show the boys the main route back down to the lodge, the girls were ready to peep at the park. Riding up the High Noon 6 pack chair, the terrain park looked blessed with the sun shining right down on the jump line. Speeding towards it, the girls were now in heaven. An urban down box and rail, flat boxes, down flats, jib poles and barrels were all in prime condition as TUB paraded through the slope. Though, what they were really looking for was farther down. Coming around a cat track, VNTRbirds stopped with perma-grins when they saw six jumps lined up to perfection.
Jaime went first and Kelley following in close behind, VNTRbirds tested out the newly shaped features with some straight airs. They were near perfection. The lips sent the girls into a super floaty hang time over the knuckle to be caught by the landing gracefully. TUB couldn’t ask for more.

The park was lapped time and time again, with the girls trying to get all of their old tricks back, 270’s on, front nose, nose press with a tail tap out, along with spins on the jumps. Before they knew it, it was 11:30 and time for some peanut butter and jellies! Meeting up with all of the boys down at the bottom, everyone started to recap their morning shred session. No one was caught without a smile. Rapidly finishing lunch the birds flew up to the lift again, accompanied with the guys and started to take some more fast laps with them. Though, it was happening once again, the clouds were setting in and the girls were biting their feathers.
By two o’clock that afternoon, it turned into yet another white out. Not chancing getting hurt, TUB finished up one last lap in the park before the white cloud conquered and headed down to the parking lot.

Excited to be in an actual cabin, VNTRbirds were able to shower before getting changed for the night. This was a special treat. Playing some card games with their host Andrew and drinking some Tui beers, TUB were ready for the rugby game. With dinner hot and ready (of pasta and red sauce of course) the All Blacks took the field.
Rugby is an interesting sport. New Zealanders live and breathe for rugby almost like some football fans back in the states. Though, VNTRbirds couldn’t really get it. Every time someone is tackled, the play doesn’t stop, the ball is just passed from the ground (to a team mate hopefully) and continued down the field and when they finally score, do not make the mistake of shouting “TOUCHDOWN!”, because it’s called a ‘try’.

Naturally the All Blacks lead the nation to victory over the Wallabies and the girls headed out into town to celebrate. This town going ended up at another hostel that had a fooseball table. Kelley partnered up with Ian and they were the all around champs of the night, never losing a game. The party then moved to a yoga position match between Quentin and a Kiwi girl, then back to LKNZ for some ping pong. The night ended early and the girls were back at the cabin and asleep before they knew it.

The next morning was a drag. Waking up to the sound of pouring rain is never something TUB looks forward to when they are out for their snowboard weekend. Calling up Ben for the mountain report, he claimed that the chairs were “on hold”, but the learner slope was still running. Knowing that the mountain only had up to 5 meters of visibility, VNTRbirds started to make other plans for the day. This resulted in hiking the national park in the rain.

Tongariro National park is a pretty big place. Waiting for the white Nissan Sunny to pull up, Jaime and Kelley packed their bags and said their goodbyes to the boys that housed them for the past two days. Packing in the car, and having to lap up, Max drove onwards to different hiking trails that would be enjoyed in the rain. The first stop was by some waterfalls which was beautiful. Jumping around the river leading up to the falls was a lot of fun, but resulted in some wet shoes.


Moving on to the Mangawhero trail, which was only about a 15 minute loop, everyone agreed that it would be perfect for a rainy hike. Though, once TUB and company filed out of the car, the sun was peeking out of the grey clouds and lighting up the lush green forests. Following the path and reading all the little signs with information on the different types of vegetation, TUB decided this was a decent exchange for the canceled day of snowboarding.


By about three o’clock, the Auckland boys were ready for their four hour trek home and the girls were just waiting for Ben to show up in his little red Mazda. Snacking on some more PB&Js and saying their goodbyes, VNTRbirds were satisfied with the weekend, but can’t wait to get back to the park at Turoa and show off. August 20th, the ThirtyTwo professional snowboard team will be at Ruapehu, so hopefully TUB will be able to catch a lap or two with Joe Sexton, Scott Stevens and JP Walker! THUMBS UP!