By Racheal Oakes-Ash
Photos by Kit Rundle
Wind blown powder and nobody around
Donald Bray is a third generation high country farmer deep in the Mackenzie region of New Zealand’s South Island. He is also a first generation snow cat driver, proud owner of his own private ski field on his five thousand hectare farming property and father of twin twenty one year old boys with his wife Barbara – which is why we’ve brought Australia’s own ski champion and Winter X Games slopestyle winner, Anna Segal, along.
My theory is simple, Anna gets two chances at marrying into the family and thus securing her own mountain to practice her international skiing skills whenever she so desires. Me? I get a lifetime of first dibs at second tracks for negotiating the arranged marriage.
Alpure Peaks cat skiing is worth pimping a friend out for.
After a week fighting the westerly wind storm cycle that had pounded New Zealand this August, we finally scored the goods. A bluebird day, fresh untracked snow, a mere two skiers, three snowboarders and mountain guide Andy Tindell to take on our own mountain, sorry, I mean Donald’s mountain. If this is poor man’s heli then I’m proud to be a pauper.
Getting to the good stuff in New Zealand is always an adventure whether tramping the hour uphill hike to the club field of Temple Basin negotiating the switchback road through snow and scree to Mt Olympus or, in our case, four wheel driving through winding creeks, passed wandering sheep, curious cows and the odd Himalayan mountain goat to reach the snow cat at the snowline of Fox Peak which overlooks Alpure Peaks operation.
We got eight sweet long runs on a decent pitch with no other tracks to be found, a home baked lunch complete with Barbara’s famous chicken soup and time in the snow cat to rejuvenate before each run as Andy and Donald discussed which line in the six thousand five hundred skiable acres to take us to next.
Of course we could tell you more but Alpure Peaks is still a New Zealand secret though Donald and Barbara would prefer not to keep it that way. It’s the kind of place you that once discovered you don’t want anyone else to find but like all good snow gems the boasting rights are too good not to talk up your adventure at the pub to score serious bragging points.
Did Anna get her man and we get our mountain? Read the full Alpure Peaks adventure story in the 2010 issue of Chillfactor Ski Magazine chillfactor.com out in May.
(Click any image to open the gallery)