As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, we took off in the second week of September for a few days at the snow! We just went down to Whakapapa for five days – it’s a not-too-onerous trip down to the middle of the North Island. Obviously, any car trip with a three year old can have its, um, challenges, but Amelie did great. We stopped twice on the way down, in Hamilton and Taupō for morning tea and lunch respectively, and just once on the way back (in Hamilton again for lunch). Other than that we got through with a bit of Eye Spy, some kids podcasts, and some Cat in the Hat on the iPad. Insert shrug emoji. Usually we’re pretty strict on screen time but when we travel, I let the rules go out the window, for all of our benefit.
We stayed at the Chateau Tongariro, which is just this amazing old hotel. It was built in 1929 and its grandeur is for sure faded, but it’s got so much charm we didn’t even care. Plus, it’s as close as you can get to the skifield if you’re not a member of one of the clubs that own huts at the lift base. Can’t beat that!
We planned out our activities very carefully in advance, trying to allow enough time for Hayden and I both to have a decent go on the snow; Amelie to get some snow time in, but not too much, because there’s only so much cold and activity one can handle at three before tantrums become imminent; and to make sure we could enjoy some time as a family as well. We honestly had no idea how well we would make it work, but it was absolutely brilliant! Obviously a very different ski trip from those that have come before, but definitely just as good. Possibly even better, actually, because we just put so little pressure on ourselves.
It’s been years since we went skiing. Case in point – on the first day, I found an old lift pass from Stowe in my jacket pocket. Stowe, as in Vermont. It’s been quite some time since Vermont was the closest place for us to get some snow time in. When we lived in Europe and New York, I snowboarded, but I was never all that good at it and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. This time around, I decided to leave my snowboard at home and try my hand (try my feet?) at skis again instead, and I’m so pleased I did! I enjoy it so much more than I ever did snowboarding. Our legs are just meant to be able to move independently of each other, and that’s all I’ll say about that. It was great because Amelie saw me skiing before her lesson as well, so she was excited to try it for herself. On the downside, she thought because she had seen me doing it she knew exactly what to do and she didn’t exactly listen to the instructor – like at all – but she had a great time and has been talking nonstop about wanting to do it again, which is about all you can ask, right?!
We went up the mountain every day except one, when Amelie and I sent Hayden up by himself for a whole day of uninterrupted boarding, while we enjoyed some mummy-daughter time around the hotel. We had such a lovely day! The Chateau has a small movie theatre in its basement, so after a walk outside, a small hike down to the river and the ‘waterfall’ (as Amelie called the small rapids) and a hot chocolate, we relaxed and watched Cinderella together. Amelie was absolutely entranced. She hasn’t seen many Disney movies, and it was so sweet watching her take it all in. Later on in the afternoon, we had afternoon tea together, then welcomed Hayden back with a family swim.
Other than that, we skied and snowboarded, sledded, played in the snow, drank multiple hot chocolates and apple juices (and coffees and mulled wines, of course), and caused general havoc at the Chateau. We took to calling Amelie Eloise by the end of day one. She was wild, running up and down the stairs and sprinting around the lounge, but also hilarious, and everyone fell in love with her. There were a couple of other children around her age staying and a couple of times she played with them in the lounge while we parents ‘relaxed’ (ha!). On at least one occasion they interrupted a snooker game by picking a ball up off the table mid-play. You’re just going to have to trust me that this was met with amusement over horror.
It was such an amazing holiday and I came away so refreshed! I said to Hayden on the way home that I don’t even want to work anymore, I just want to do activities all the time. That’s, um, not happening, but it is so nice Amelie being at an age where we can start doing more activity-based trips again. I do have to say that this is one of those small blessings that has come out of this pandemic. We’d been talking about trying to fit in some snow time for years (since our last trip to Vermont, apparently) and never did, because every winter we’d use our leave on getting away somewhere warm instead. This year that obviously wasn’t an option. I’m not saying the pandemic is a good thing, of course, but it is nice to be reminded that not everything about it is bad. In short, I may not be going abroad for a while (I have been adjusting my mindset of late to accept that we might be talking years), but I can’t wait for next year’s ski trip – and for some fun spring and summer trips around New Zealand as well over the next few months!