Ask a Local

We ask Stu Waddel, from Chill, six questions on the Ski Selwyn Six.

How long have you been skiing at the Ski Selwyn Six?

I was brought up skiing at Whakapapa Ski Area and enjoyed the variety and challenges that Mt Ruapehu offered, especially in Spring.  When I was at Lincoln University, I was introduced to the Craigieburn Range and soon found the terrain as good as any where, if not better that anywhere in New Zealand.

What keeps you coming back?

20 years ago I was a founding business owner in Chill and we designed the Chill pass concept, both in response to skiers wanting to access the Selwyn Ski areas on one pass, plus encouraging the ski areas to work together.  I’ve been involved ever since, and enjoy seeing pass holders explore, often return to familiar terrain when the snow is falling.  

Recently, we have been running the Craigieburn Haute Route, with Anna Keeling Guiding, we ski tour between Craigieburn and Mt Olympus, and stay in the mountain lodges, enjoying the hospitality of the Ski Clubs.  Over four days we access Craigieburn, Broken River, Mt Cheeseman and Mt Olympus.  There is great terrain through the Craigeburn Range and with Anna as our guide we are able to go to snow bowls beyond the ski areas.

Temple Basin on the Main Divide is a 50min walk in from SH73.  With use of the gears lift, it’s worth staying overnight and making the most of the skiing.  The tows are pretty easy to get use to, and I really like walking into Bills Basin and beyond for a back country experience.

Porters Ski Area, is the closest ski area to Christchurch and with reasonably good access they have a great fall line, with Big Mama north facing and Bluff south facing.  

Anything coming up you’re especially excited about at the Selwyn Six?

We’ve had a great season in 2017, I’ve met plenty of Chill Pass holders who are new to the area and really enjoying exploring the unique Club ski areas.  I suspect some will continue to use the Chill Pass, while others will find their Club spirit and join with their favoured Clubs.

Chill has celebrated 20 season in 2017, awesome.  We’d like to see the pass concept continue, and I particularly like the parent pass which allows for parents to get a second season pass for $150 when they a child under the age of 5.  I also like the Chill5 Club Season Pass and the new Travel Pass for people coming to the area from afar.  There are good options to stay and play on the Travel pass.

Finally, we have had three seasons running the Craigieburn Haute Route.  Our trips have been really popular, and we’ve experience great skiing, a real sense of adventure in the alpine environment, and some great Club field hospitality.  We are putting together more trips for 2018, and welcome groups of up to 5 people to get together and explore.

What are some of the Ski Selwyn Six’ best kept secrets?

Staying on the mountains is so cool.  The ski weeks offered by a number of the Ski Clubs are a great way to have a holiday, everything is provided for, including a lesson throughout the week.  It’s a really good way to save money and hang out with friends or get the family into skiing.

New Zealand is a collection of islands, and we are in the hands of Mother Nature.  We can experience a range of weather patterns throughout winter, and making the most of the snow is always a challenge, especially when the mountains are at our back door!  I like how Social Media is allowing us to get updates on the conditions first hand, plus there is so much information on the weather coming through.  Look out for the high pressure systems that follow a snow storm, they can hang around to 3-5 days and with cool temps and drier airflows the snow can ski through for days.  When the warmth or moisture get into the pack, things change and we are reliant on the sun to soften the snow pack.
What’s your favourite lunch in the Ski Selwyn Six?

A long lunch, over four days on the Craigieburn Haute Route.  

Each ski area caters for us from a sit down lunch at Whakamaru Day lodge, Craigieburn, to pack lunches for the trip across the tops.  Food brings everyone together, coffee keeps us going and the perfect tonic for mustering a conversation with a stranger.  

My picks are vegetable curry soup at CV for lunch, savory muffins and banana cake packed for the trip from Broken River to Cheeseman, and fresh ham sandwiches from Cheeseman, followed by mince & bean wraps at Mt Olympus.  

Other favourites include hot fries at Porters with a German Sausage for Oktoberfest, and for dinner at Temple Basin, lamb shanks!

Any standout memories from staying in the mountains?

I love the saying after a good day in the mountains ‘ I wonder what the rest of the world did today’!  This season, when we arrived at Mt Olympus from Cheeseman on a Craigieburn haute Route, it started snowing….all night.  While we meant to be on a back country trip, we put our kit aside and rode the tows (last day) all day long.  Then another storm came in that night, clearing again for Tuesday….  This season Tuesday’s seem to be at the settle day between storms, which is funny.  I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have back to back storms, bring it.

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Good times on the Craigieburn Haute Route 2017.


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