July to December 2015 (Castle Hill & Wainui Beach (Gisborne), New Zealand) —
We returned to NZ in mid July, and it was good to be home. The Dicksons welcomed us back to Castle Hill with warmth, the usual grief, and tons of snow. It was the antithesis of last year — the mountains were open, the snow was plentiful, and it kept snowing fairly consistently.
After a few days, NZ Customs finally released the gear we shipped from the US and we could start skiing.
We spent only a few days skiing in bounds at the club fields this season, but skied far more than last season.
We had some beautiful weather mid-winter and completed an overnight backcountry tour with our friend, Damien, traveling from Mt. Cockayne to Mt. Olympus, which had been on our list since last year.
While I was down with a cold, V and Damien also climbed and skied the highest mountain in the area, Mt. Enys, on a brilliant spring day with variable snow conditions.
And we had a couple of big weekends when an Aussie horde descended to ski/ride with us. Well, at least Clare visited. But I was so wrecked by the time she left that it felt like fighting off a horde. Plus the Kiwi Seagulls, who we first met in Japan, also visited for a weekend and cooked a beautiful lamb roast, which Clare (the sorta vegetarian) pretended to eat.
During the periods without new snow, we went for runs on the local trails, spent 4 days biking the Alps to Ocean trail (click to read), and took the Dickson kids bouldering at Cave Stream.
As ski season finished, we packed the car and headed north to our favorite surf spot in NZ: Wainui Beach near Gisborne. Renting the same house each year really makes it start to feel like home.
The surf here rarely disappoints.
We were lucky to have our good friends, the Hamilton McElligotts (minus son James), visit over Labor Day weekend for the Gisborne Food & Wine Festival. So many good laughs. We love the McElligotts.
And Amy Smith came by for a couple of nights during her driving tour of NZ. Somehow we didn’t take any pictures of her, but she took this one of us on our back porch:
In early December, we traveled back to Christchurch to celebrate Mark Dickson’s 50th birthday. While I joined the mountain bike ride, V and Mark’s sister, Sally, built the shot skis and set up near the end of the trail for some surprise Tequila or Jager shots. The beach party at Taylor’s Mistake Surf Club lasted well into the night.
Hungover a bit the next day, we headed down to Sumner beach for some cricket and a cookout.
After that stellar last weekend in NZ with the amazing Dicksons, we packed up and headed to Japan for the winter.