Apparently some of The Lord of The Rings scenes featuring Mount Doom were filmed on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu, the largest active volcano in NZ, so why wouldn’t you decide to take your one-year-old there on her birthday weekend?! As is becoming the norm for us, this resulted from another ‘What do you fancy doing this weekend?’ conversation one Thursday evening. It was about half way into the 4-hour drive towards Lake Taupo that we realised we must be crazy…we were embarking on a ski trip with a one-year old in the back seat. Ridiculous! But an unforgettable birthday in the making.
Here’s the first little video I’ve made using our GoPro footage and I must admit that I am a little bit proud of it! Please enjoy the particularly catchy and upbeat music that I painstakingly selected so as not to break the law by using something more well known and down with the kids…innit? It really doesn’t sound cool when I say it…
As the ski season was drawing to an end, we knew it would be a bit of a gamble as to whether the slopes would be open all weekend. Nonetheless we booked a backpackers in Ohakune on the edge of Tongariro National Park with plenty of non-ski options if needed. Yes, a backpackers….with a baby! Thankfully they phoned us on our way there to say that as our travel cot probably wouldn’t fit in the room we had booked, they could offer us an ensuite double room with kitchenette facilities. Thank goodness they had thought about the fact that I would need a microwave and fridge for baby food, as it hadn’t crossed my mind! We arrived after reception had closed, found our key and wifi code under the mat and hoped that Sophia wouldn’t awaken the entire backpackers as she strongly protested being transferred from the car seat to the cot. Then we remembered that it was a backpackers and most of the guests would probably be in the hot tub until the wee hours. Perfect!
The next morning we hit the slopes and got very excited to see the childcare centre beside the ski hire booth. Unfortunately Sophia wouldn’t pass for a two-year old so we tag-teamed looking after her and promised to return and drop her off next year. I hadn’t skied since my Year 6 school trip to France and Jeremy hadn’t snowboarded before so we spent the morning on the beginner slopes tobogganing and face-planting then took the ski lift to the proper slopes for the afternoon. Disembarking the ski lift with a baby attached to your front is a bit of a challenge but we enjoyed the view and tried not to think about the health and safety!
Unfortunately the slopes were closed on the Sunday due to gale force winds at the top of the mountain, so instead we explored the other sights that Ohakune (the carrot capital of the world ) had to offer, firstly the Big Carrot statue. The annual carrot carnival featuring ‘carrot cake of the year’ and dunking for Brussel sprouts is held here in celebration of this historic town’s produce!
Despite the slopes being closed, the road to the base of the ski area was open so we drove up through Tongariro National Park to explore Waitonga Falls, Tawhai Falls and Mangawhero Forest. The landscape and waterfalls were incredible! And of course we enjoyed larking around in the snow before heading back into town for mulled wine and hot chocolate.
The drive home took us through Foxton where we stopped at a Dutch windmill before passing through Kapiti and enjoying the stunning beach views, which were quite a contrast to the snowy slopes a few hours before.
The view of Kapiti Island from Paraparaumu beach was stunning and The Most Amazing Chocolate Factory served the most amazing passion fruit and coconut ice-cream which we got to go and enjoyed on Raumati beach. A perfect end to a perfect weekend.