First trip to the snow
If skiing is your passion, then once you have a baby, a visit to Tararua Lodge shines like an irresistible beacon. You dream. You plan. In the end, it all seems too hard. “But lots of babies have been to the Lodge,” our baby-adviser Anne Crang encouraged us, “its just that they’ve all gotten older now, of course, so you don’t see them at the Lodge anymore.” So it was indeed possible.
When we had no children, trips to Whakapapa were no big deal at all. We could go on lots of trips, often at short notice if the weather and snow were good. Now this one much-anticipated trip would do us for several seasons. It was a whole new ballgame with our ten month old son, Liam, who was crawling and cruising the furniture.
How do you get to and from the mountain? What about nappy change, feeding, and crawling stops? You can’t drive for too long while the baby is awake and wriggly. We stopped at lots of cafes and McDonalds on the way for baby-leg-stretching-breaks. When we eventually arrived at Whakapapa Skifield car park, we couldn’t find a space for ages. “Oh, let’s just go home again,” I said. Luckily, Andreas is made of stronger stuff.
Liam did the trip amazingly well and rode up the Rock Garden chair lift in a front pack with his dad, Andreas. He took it all in his stride. I, on the other hand, felt quite stunned and overwhelmed: I could not believe that we were finally at the Lodge, after so much anticipation and planning. We were really impressed with the recent Lodge renovations.
While I looked after Liam, Andreas then did endless trips up and down the mountain bringing up all our gear. We hadn’t expected it would take so long. We are most grateful to Rainer Huber for being a friend in our time of need and lending us a hand.
We loved watching Liam smile and laugh with the other trip members there, such as Wim, Rainer, and Einar (who does excellent quacking sounds). While there, Liam learnt to stand (no hands!) and saw snow for the fi rst time. He clearly enjoyed his stay at the Lodge.
Late on the final night, many fellow trip members pulled us aside and told us what a happy, well-behaved child Liam had been and that we’d done a good job. We were really happy to receive these positive comments.
For a ski-trip with a very young child, one parent is obviously always looking after the baby (or manning the baby monitor), while the other parent skis, showers, does hut duties, and anything else. It can be lonely for the caregiver during the day, but people do pop back for lunch at different times. Just like any visit to a new environment, one parent needs to constantly watch the baby to make sure that he doesn’t fall down the stairs or grab someone’s hot coffee from the table. Andreas took Liam’s nappies in air-sealed bags to the Whakapapa rubbish bins each day. The portacot was a heavy thing to lug up the mountain. It was nevertheless a necessary item for a wriggly child of Liam’s age. You need to keep a very close eye on the weather forecast to make sure that you leave the Lodge before any bad weather sets in. All of this is second nature to mums and dads. You just do it and enjoy your holiday!
Other things to consider are that you have to wash your hands at least twenty times a day with a young baby. The new bunk rooms which have a sink in them are a godsend - thank you Alan Wright! Heartfelt thanks also to Graham Hall who very kindly swapped bunks with us so that we could stay in that room.
Due to the weather, travel times, and the many trips carrying gear up and down the mountain, five days annual leave only equalled two days skiing. The weather on those days was superb! I decided to just let Andreas go skiing. For me, just the opportunity to be at the Lodge and have such a spectacular view out the windows was wonderful. I enjoyed a walk in the snow sometimes while Andreas minded Liam.
For the return journey, I tried to do both my cleaning duties and Andreas’ the night before, while Andreas watched out for Liam. We knew we’d be hard pressed in the morning to get everyone fed, clothed, packed, do one extra gear trip to the car and finally get ourselves down the mountain and everything into the car, all before Liam’s fi rst daily sleep was due at 9:30am. We were worried about being caught out by the bad weather that was predicted to arrive before midday. We adults can walk down the mountain in most weather, but children can’t. Against all odds working against us, we actually managed it! Liam fell asleep just as we drove away down the Bruce Road.
Being passionate skiers, this one trip had meant the world to us. The skiing was excellent, the snow outstanding, and the Lodge renovations absolutely terrific. However, in the end, we were relieved to be heading for home. We wish other parents planning visits to the Lodge all the best and will remember Liam’s first trip to the snow for ever.
- Kerrie Kubisch