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Snowkiting in New Zealand

Listed under Snow Adventures in South Island, New Zealand.

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There was not so much snow this last winter in Europe. So, the Ozone snowkiters went to New-Zealand in August for some unforgettable backcountry powder sessions. We can be sure that New-Zealand is a perfect country for snowkiting. Like every other country there is lot of work to be done by pioneers for discovering the spots.

There are three ways to get to the NZ snowkiting fields. We can go via the ski resorts, buying a ski-pass and after the ski-lifts going for snowfields with the kites - sometimes, it is the only way and even if we pay the ski pass, we get to some incredible snowkiting spot, so it is not a problem to pay few NZ dollars for that - if that's the only way. Sometimes, you can start directly from the ski-resort parking. So it was in Cardrona or Snowfarm. The road to the ski-resorts is so long, so steep, so incredible as it isn't a highway like in Europe but a muggy 4x4 track. At the beginning, we couldn't imagine that it was the ski-resort road. So at the end of these roads, we get very high, to the snow limit, and with some luck we can start snowkiting directly.

The other way, is to rent a 4x4 car and after asking the farmer at the bottom of an unknown ridge, we can use the wild roads in the mountains to get to some wild endless dunes covered with fresh powder snow. There are lot of this kind of ridges in Southern Island.

The other way which is like a dream is to rent an helicopter, which is a reasonable suggestion here in NZ and not as expensive as in Europe, but we managed to get to some good spots without so we didn't waste money on it. Keep in mind that the kites are our season-pass!

The easiest place for snowkiting is Snowfarm. Near the famous freestyle resort SnowPark. It is in the wild Cardrona Valley, where some of the fights for the "Lord of the Ring's" movie were filmed. Snowfarm allows the kiters to cover a lot of ground along ranges of hills and dunes. After the third week came some fresh snow and the spot gets better. It is the first resort which ask to the kiters to pay a pass to get to the backcountry. But we had there two really perfect sessions, with strong wind, good powder, and we went to the top of the spot, the background here is really impressive and I've got one of the best videos of this trip here.

On the opposite side of the valley, just in front of Snowfarm, is Cardrona, the most famous ski-resort around there. Here we can start directly from the parking lot, as we can in Snowfarm. But the terrain is different, really steep - like a high level freeriding spot for snowboarders or big-mountain skiers. Here we need stronger wind to go snowkiting everywhere due to the steep terrain on this very boundless spot with huge snow-cliffs and windlips.

The last spot we met was Nevis ridge. It is a wild area, with no ski-resort, no village, nothing. Just a 15km 4x4 track, closed by the farmer (we have to ask him and pay before going on the road), and when we arrived at the end of the road, we couldn’t get our kites out straight away as the snow wasn’t deep enough. So we rented a snowmobile to bring us to the snow limit. Here was the beginning of a really large and impressive ridge, with cool snowfields and deep snowcliffs. The end of the ridge is the top of the mountain and called Mt Hector, it is just above the Queenstown lake. We went twice here, by the same way (4x4 and snowmobiles), we've got no wind at all the first time and super strong one the second time when near to the end of our trip.

Written by  Pascal Boulgakow.

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