New Zealand Winter Reflections

Morgan Dinsdale | BackcountryBackcountry | Industry NewsIndustry News

New Zealand Winter Reflections written by Morgan Dinsdale

Wanaka from Above, Treble Cone summit views, New Zealand
Image: Morgan Dinsdale

It’s 637am. The full moon overhead illuminates my path forward as the headlamps of racers much faster than I fade into the distance uphill. Forty-five minutes later, as I reach the summit of Coronet Peak in my first Skin to Summit ski mountaineering race down here in New Zealand, I can’t stop smiling as the sunrise lights up endless peaks surrounding me in various shades of pink and orange. I can see Queenstown below in the distance; little lights fading into the rising sun and I am reminded of why I came here in the first place – for the joy I find on my skis in the mountains wherever I go.

Backcountry Awareness, New Zealand
Image: Morgan Dinsdale

Here in Aotearoa, in the “land of the long white cloud” (and wind!), there’s a little something for everyone who loves to slide on snow. Especially in snowy seasons like the one we’re currently wrapped up in, with above average snowfalls across the entire South Island. The explorer side of my personality likes to dip my toes into a little bit of everything and down here, when it comes to skiing, everything’s on offer.

I moved from Jackson, Wyoming to Queenstown, New Zealand this past June to heli ski guide for Alpine Heli Ski. My days out in the field have been filled with big mountain lines, powdery alpine bowls and seemingly endless smiles.

Heli Skiing has it's Perks! New Zealand
Image: Morgan Dinsdale

When I’m not guiding, you can find me with my skins on, hunting for powder in this snowy region. What can I say, ski touring is my jam! There are endless possibilities here, from sidecountry outside any of the four resorts in the Wanaka and Queenstown areas (Coronet Peak, Remarkables, Cardrona, Treble Cone), to epic multi-day ski traverses such as the Symphony on Skis. I came to New Zealand to ski lines nobody has before and there is so much terrain to choose from, it’s almost laughable. While I long for the trees back home, I’ve never skied so many couloirs on so many bluebird days or seen so many high alpine bowls just waiting to be skied.

Then there’s the club fields further north on the South Island, gemstones of days gone by where the simple things really are the best. Warm huts nestled into mountainsides, skiers frothing for powder, in a place where one tow grants you access to incredible terrain with just you and your buddies. Many backcountry club fields and huts back onto each other making it possible to travel from one field to another with little on your back day after day. Although there are far too many for me to list here, just know one thing – if you’re coming to New Zealand to ski powder and you don’t visit the club fields, you’re a fool.

Here in New Zealand, I’ve found myself awake before the sun most days. I’ve seen so many sunrises in the mountains here. I’ve also mumbled under my breath on more than one occasion while the winds have almost blown me over that perhaps I should still be in bed. What I love about this place is that it gives you so many good reasons to rise with the birds, to persevere through type-II suffer-fun for adventures well worth the grit. New Zealand winter provides, it’s up to you to go chase the adventure.

Apres Ski at it's Best, New Zealand,
Image: Morgan Dinsdale

Related Articles

Got an opinion? Let us know...