Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Hmmm, so what's Plan B?

You know how we're going skiing for a week in NZ, leaving in two weeks?

Um, there's no snow.

Australia has one of its best starts to the ski season in yonks, with almost every major field open for the official start of the season on Queen's Birthday (13 June, this year). This is a very rare, once-in-a-decade type event. And given the NZ ski season usually starts a good month earlier, and finishes several months later than the Strine one, you'd be forgiven for thinking there'd be snow on them thar hills.

As of Sunday, 26 June, none/zero/nil/zilch/zip/rei of the ski fields in NZ were open. Mt Hutt opened on Monday (2/4 lifts on a 6cm (entirely manmade) base); Turoa (Nth Island) opened today, sort of (1 lift of 9 operating). There is no snow to speak of at Cardrona (our intended destination).

(from www.snowreports.co.nz)

Pete 'The Frog' Taylor's forecast at www.snowatch.com.au gives a glimmer of hope (my emphasis added).
We should see mostly fine sunny days and clear cool nights this week before a weak change arrives on Sunday bringing some light snow up high. Following this is a series of intense colder systems that looks like bringing snowfalls to low levels across a period of 7-10 days. During this time winds look like being very strong to gale force with blizzard conditions likely.

So the good news is that we could see snowfalls starting around the 4th-5th and then continuing for over a week that should then see all snowfields up and running. [i.e. by 12Jul11 - Ed] The bad news is that during this time there will be periods where the winds may force some closures of lifts or even resorts.
So fingers are crossed, and prayers offered to the snow gods that Pete is right, and the ski fields will indeed have snow by 12 July when we arrive in Queenstown.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Poor Christchurch

Another series of serious aftershocks hit Christchurch early this afternoon, local time, the strongest with a magnitude of 6.0, all shallow and very close to the city. At least one building has collapsed (previously condemned, so it should have been empty), and there have a been a number of injuries from falling debris. Power is out to thousands of homes, and there is yet more liquefaction and flooding. The cumulative trauma to the residents must be awful. They are handling it with the usual tongue-in-cheek stoicism you'd expect.

And if anyone there decided they had simply had enough, they couldn't fly out. The volcanic ash plume from Puyehue volcano in Chile has grounded flights from most New Zealand and South East Australian airports. It's a long weekend here, so the airports are unusually busy, too. I felt most for the soldier returning from a year-long tour in Afghanistan, stranded in Melbourne and unable to get to Tassie and his family.

We're due to fly into NZ in a month, arriving in Queenstown on Tuesday 12 July, flying out of Christchurch on Wednesday 20 July. I've booked a motel on the western side of town which has suffered less damage (being built on river stones rather than estuary sand), and provides more direct access to the south (Queenstown, and Cashmere where my aunt lives).

I hope the planet has stopped burping and hiccupping by then, and neither volcanic ash nor quakes will affect (any of) us.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Tasmania - Jos and Ky's pics (Part 1)

The boys also took a camera with them to Tasmania. Here are a selection.

Portraits and self-portraits

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Tasmania - Gopa's pics

While I was off gallivanting around NYC, my parents and my children were gallivanting around Tasmania. And from all reports they had a ball. The Bass Strait ferry there and back, white water rafting, glowworm caves, Port Arthur and more.

Dad sent back some gorgeous photos, which I thought I'd share with you.

Strahan (pronounced 'strawn') - miles from anywhere, and truly beautiful

Gums at Devil's Gullet, a little past Mole Creek