She’s an erratic and unreliable entity at the best of times, and you’d be wise to remain cautious even when everything looks calm on the horizon. Or at least that’s how we do things in New Zealand. We’d like to say there’s at least 1 season in our spectrum that is easy and gives us some vague concept of monotony in the weather-stakes, but that just isn’t the case. Summer chops and changes, with long, warm, beach-side days, swiftly followed by arctic breezes, driving rain, and the notion that maybe somehow Autumn has arrived already. And don’t even get us started on the Spring bastard.
However Winter is by far the strangest of beasts, which isn’t ideal when everyone is here specifically for the weather (or in actual fact the snow that it brings/doesn’t bring). We often get enquiries prior to the season from guests wanting to ascertain the best time of Winter to come for skiing/boarding/general razzery, but we’d be withholding the truth if we didn’t have to follow up our suggestion with the fact that our crystal ball is more than a little cloudy.
Don’t get us wrong, every Winter season in the world is subject to a lean one every now and then, but there’s a significant difference between a lean season in say Banff, Canada, and little ol’ us down here in NZ’s South Island. In saying that, every Winter season in the world also has the potential to bring swathes of the white and fluffy stuff, with bluebird powder days on the regular and down days few and far between. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t matter how good the technology gets in the department of meteorology, because we’re all – especially here – subject to the moods and subsequent wrath of Mother Nature and her merry band of weather conditions.
Take this season for example – during Winterfest (what is meant to be the official start of Winter), things were looking a little brown. This isn’t the first time by the way, and it won’t be the last, which really only highlights the fact that Winterfest is simply too early in the season, rather than it being an indication of a less-than-stellar season. But either way, it was a lean start to the season, which of course starts the grumblings from both the tourists and the locals. This lean-ness continued for quite a while, until in August (the latter part of which we typically tout as the best time to come by the way) Winter turned itself on in a big way. A big, BIG way by New Zealand standards, with a 2 week period of 20-30cm dumps, taking the base snow-level at The Remarkables from a decidedly meagre 50cm average to a stratospheric (for us) 17ocm average. Face shots were plentiful, high-fives were handed around in spades, and all-in-all everyone’s ‘stoke’ levels were peaking.
Now, we know what you’re saying – Australia started the season so much better, blah blah blah blah. Of course there’s always competition between the 2 countries for the Southern Hemisphere snow crown (Chile doesn’t get included – it’s too far away :P). But anyone who knows anything knows that Australia’s seasons is as unpredictable as ours, and it just happens to be that this season was their season. Next year it might be ours, and who knows thereafter. All we know is, at the end of day the major difference between the Australian Ski-fields and Queenstown, is that if the weather doesn’t play ball and you’re suffering through a lot of down days, at least here there is a whole lot more to fill your day with. We are the adventure capital of the Southern Hemisphere, not to mention the fact that our night-life and culinary options are plentiful and varied, which means that you can still have the time of your life even when the weather isn’t playing ball. Top that off with the fact that everything is cheaper, the exchange rate is typically favourable, and let’s face it, our views are better, suddenly the flight over doesn’t look like such a burden.
So don’t expect too much, and don’t lose faith either – just remember, you simply can’t trust Mother Nature. Insufferable b*#@h.