This weekend VNTRbirds broke away from their city of Wellington, away from their group of friends and away from the comfort and luxury of their beds to go up to Mt. Ruapehu for some New Zealand snowboarding! Up top you can see a quick edit from the trip. Not much to it, but this is explained through out the blog. SO CHECK IT OUT!

These two birds spent the whole week planning this trip, then changed, then changed again, then canceled it, but finally there was a plan with determination behind it. Making some user names on, Jaime was able to find a Kiwi that was willing to carpool the 3 1/2 hour drive up to the mountain and back down for a small fee for gas. Coming into this news a little late in the week when the girls started looking up hostels to make reservations, everything and everywhere was booked. Well, everything except camping. The next step, finding camping gear. The great thing about New Zealand is, everyone loves the outdoors, therefore everyone has the equipment that TUB was looking for.
A tent from Ben, one sleeping bag from Pip, the second from Jamie and woolen blankets compliments of Nick. This lead to great excitement from the two birds, they were well on their way. Though, nerves struck when their peers started to worry about them freezing in the cold air of the mountains, but they charged on!

Backpacks, camping gear, snowboards, helmets, pillows and more strung over the birds as they waddled down to the bus stop to be picked up by their ride. VNTRbirds were anxiously waiting for almost an hour when an old, very small, red Mazda with a poor paint job pulled up in front of them. Jaws dropped at the sight with the thoughts , “Oh this will be a long car ride”. Two boys popped out for introductions, Ben from Wellington and Jonathan from Michigan.
Packing the car to the brim, Jaime and Kelley struggled to climb in the suffocating backseats. Replacing the feeling of discomfort with images of snowboarding and the mountain, the girls began to chat about whatever popped into their heads, but with little response. Out of the whole trip, TUB was lucky to get a “Yeah, that’s fine” or a “Yeah, okay not too far” out of their companions. Instead, they went for the option of sleeping during the ride as the night closed in.

Finally making it to Ruapehu Cabins, where TUB would be staying, they paid the owner for the two nights and started setting up camp. Picking the field with a full view Ruapehu the birds ignored the frosted grass and made the tent a cozy home. First the blankets for insulation, then sleeping bags (Jaime was lucky and had a mat to also sleep on), finally the duvet that was snatched from the apartment. Adding pillows, the girls knew they would be sleeping in comfort as long as all of their equipment also fit.
Chatting by the light of Kelley’s headlamp hanging from the door of the tent, TUB decided that they would be ready to leave by 8am the next morning. So the two girls quickly tucked themselves in, smooshing into the sleeping bags with multiple layers on and tried to settle their minds for sleep.

The morning came soon enough and greeted the morning birds with chills, but also sunshine. Popping out of the tent, the view of Ruapehu was beautiful and only made Kelley and Jaime move in fast forward. Dressed for a full day of shred, lunch and snacks packed and a lock on the tent (yes, TUB did lock the zippers of their tent) the girls went out to the car park to load up Ben’s Mazda and head out to the slopes.


This is where VNTRbirds surroundings became bizarre. Driving through the town of Ohakune everything is green. The lush fields spotted with sheep and the palm trees lining the road were suddenly frosted as Ben drove up towards the peaks of Turoa and Whakapapa. As the birds went higher, the whiter the scenery became, along with icier.
Halfway up to Turoa’s base, where VNTRbirds were going to be snowboarding, there was a sign for chain restrictions. If you were not driving a 4-wheel drive vehicle, chains were necessary. Of course, the birds were not. Luckily Ben had his own chains for his tires, so no one had to chip in for the $30 chain rental service, but the luck quickly ran out when 45 minutes later, Ben finally succeeded in getting those damn chains on!

Gathering their snowboards and going through the checklist, TUB started trucking up to the lodge to get their season passes printed and get out to the lifts. Welcomed with huge smiles, the birds had their passes in hand within 5 minutes. Too bad one of the lifts at Turoa was out of service because a week or so before an ice boulder came down and snapped the cables right off. This caused some pretty massive lines (Q’s for all you New Zealanders) to get up the slopes. Snaking their way in and out of people, Jaime and Kelley were scooped up by the chair and lifted up to the top of the mountain.

Turoa is quite different from any other mountain TUB has been too, east or west coast. There are absolutely no trees around. This vast mountain of fresh snow is just open to play on. With bowls and ridges to jump into and hike out of, VNTRbirds pointed out where they wanted to go first.



First run, the girls went left, far left. Riding into a bowl of fresh powder and high walls, it seemed like the fun would never stop, but then it did. With signs above the birds showing where the lifts are, TUB realized they would be hiking themselves out. Heavy breathing and large steps, the birds made it to the top again and coasted over to the lifts once more. Each time the girls went up, there was something new to ollie over, ride through, jump off and launch in. The whole day was bright and blue, with occasional cloud cover only lasting a few minutes at a time.

At lunch, VNTRbirds enjoyed some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches washed down with fresh NZ water. Stashing a granola bar in their pockets, TUB was out again riding until the last call at 4:00.

Meeting back up with Ben and Jonathan at the car, everyone shared quick stories of how their days went on the mountain. VNTRbirds are sure they had the best day. Stopping at a grocery store on their way back to the camp site, Kelley and Jaime bought some previsions for the next day and some for the night ahead of them. Leaving with supplies to make grilled cheeses for dinner, chips and a 6-pack of Victoria Bitter, TUB was set for some good (and cheap) eating.

Being the only ones at Ruapehu Cabins that were camping, making dinner in the communal kitchen brought on a lot of questions. Everyone coming in and out of their nice, heated cabins to the kitchen wanted to know what TUB’s story was. As soon as the American accent was discovered, there was even more prying from the NZ locals. After dinner, VNTRbirds cruised over to the lounge so to avoid their tent as much as possible until they were about to go to bed. Bringing along the 6-pack, the girls started to chat about the next day when more people piled in with a beer in hand and conversations on their lips.
Making friends with everyone around, Jaime and Kelley were then invited to be shown the night life of the town. Two bars, long conversations, and a walk in the cold later, TUB had some new friends to shred with the next morning.

Once again the birds came out of their tents early in the morning, but this time it wasn’t as picturesque. A long, large white cloud covered the view of Ruapehu, but TUB stoked on their new company ignored the scene, broke down camp and loaded up the Mazda a final time. After convincing the boys to go to Turoa for a second day instead of Whakapapa, VNTRbirds couldn’t wipe the smiles from their beaks. The chain restriction was off and Ben was able to cruise right up to the mountain.


Catching some breakfast and coffee before jumping in the much shorter lift lines, TUB was refreshed for the new day. But when a little girl warned and fully explained that there was a white out, these birds were a little down. Arriving at the lifts TUB started their assent  to the top. Only being able to see about 20 feet in front of them made the snowboarding unbearable. Having to stop every few yards, TUB would look up and see people colliding with each other out of the blindness brought on by the low clouds. This is when TUB tucked into a cafe, to meet up with their friends and wait out the weather for a bit.
Occasionally, the sun would pop out and fool the birds back onto the chair lift to just go white once more. Hitting unseen ice, and death cookies (huge chunks of ice) the birds were feeling sore and worn.


At last, around 1:30 that afternoon, the sun revealed itself and won over the mountain. This sent VNTRbirds into shock and they cruised out as fast as they could fly. Shredding hard for the last 2 1/2 hours made the entire day worth while. Though, not much footage was caught. Planning on getting the snow birds on film the second day of riding was a bust from the weather. Soon VNTRbirds will be traveling again to shred hard and capture it on tape.

Now TUB has to catch up on their homework!