New Zealand is a hidden gem for winter sports. Both the North and South Islands offer a great range of resorts, from active volcanoes to ancient glaciers. Whether you are an experienced snowboarder or a first-time skier, there are a few things that we can all agree to make life on the slopes that little bit easier.
1. Touchscreen gloves
It may sound like the whining of an entitled millennial, but using your phone on the slopes is really handy. Whether you’re checking the interactive piste maps for updates, contacting lost members of your group or just taking pictures of the breathtaking scenery, a pair of touch screen gloves will be your best friend. Having quick and easy access to a phone can also make all the difference in an emergency.
Not all touchscreen gloves are created equal, however – it’s worth doing your research before you buy. Your gloves must have responsive touchpads, preferably on each digit, and enough grip to minimise the risk of dropping your phone in the snow. Look for a pair with silicone dots, leather palms, or anti-slip material. And don’t forget that you still need your gloves to keep your hands nice and toasty in the cold. Soft, comfortable lining can make all the difference. After all, you don’t want to be preoccupied with your discomfort when you’re trying to have fun!
2. Hydration gear / packs
On rare occasions, you can easily ski in a T-shirt on the North Island. As fun as this is, very quickly you’ll realise that dumping your jacket and backpack makes for thirsty work. Carrying a water bottle on the mountain is a pain, since getting to it while geared up is difficult. But by investing in quality backpacks and hydration packs, you can keep hydrated throughout the day without all the hassle of stopping. Many ski-specific packs also feature additional spinal protection with built-in armour. With 17,000 out of every 1 million skiers coming home on crutches any additional protection is always appreciated. A spinal injury can mean a long recovery away from home and no one wants that.
Skiers between the ages of 18-24 are the least likely to wear a helmet. But medical bills and repatriation after an accident can be expensive – a piste rescue alone can cost up to NZD850 (£445), while a night in A&E can be anywhere between NZD190 and NZD19,000 (£100 and £10,000), depending on your location. Two out of every three skiers who walked away from accidents unharmed were wearing helmets, and so it is vital that you wear one. Not only is a helmet a vital piece of safety equipment, but they are also great pieces of slope tech. The breathable venting and clips help reduce fogging in your goggles and many brands now come with built-in Bluetooth speakers so you can leave your headphones at the lodge.
It’s important to make sure your helmet fits correctly before you hit the slopes. Start by using a measuring tape to measure the circumference of your head in centimetres. Remember this number – and find the helmet that matches it. (It could be one number or a range.) When you try the helmet on, it should feel snug all the way around your head, but not so tight that it causes pain. It should be secure enough to stay when you move around. Try shaking your head to see if the helmet moves independently. If it does, you need a smaller one.
Carry your insurance information with you. A print out in a pocket or a saved copy on your phone gives you that important reassurance that you are covered. The Accident Compensation Corporation subsidises accident and emergency care for New Zealand residents and non-residents, but it is not a substitute for proper insurance. Worldwide, skiing related insurance claims can range from NZD1,130 to NZD114,550 (£589 to £59,847). It is always sensible to make sure your insurance covers winter sports and that you can access your information quickly and easily.