Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Skiing in a three-piece serge suit

We spent Christmas at Mount Ruapehu, which combines being an active volcano and the home of several ski fields. It was a glorious few days, with hiking every day and delicious meals every evening, staying in the very comfortable Chateau Tongariro.

Some of the pioneers of New Zealand skiing chose Ruapehu as their base. The Visitors' Centre near the Chateau has a small display dedicated to these men and women. In the pursuit of adventure, and very properly dressed (the men in three-piece suits and ties; the women in long woollen skirts and thick jackets), they strapped on heavy wooden skis and flung themselves down the slopes.

The chance to explore the haunts of these early skiers was a bonus of this holiday, because one of my characters has decided to give skiing a try, and will probably make his first attempt during the current work-in-progress. I already knew he was a keen hiker, but skiing took me rather by surprise. But I learned quite some time ago that it's best to give the characters their heads.

Accommodation on the mountain was a good deal more basic than it is today. One of the early shelters, the old Waihohonu Hut, still survives, and now has an Historic Places classification.

We visited it on one of our hikes. The interior could not be described as luxurious.

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