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Where in NZ...?

Discussion in 'New Zealand' started by damian, Sep 11, 2011.

  1. damian

    damian A Local

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    My wife and I might get a chance to spend a week in NZ in October do some long overdue exploration of a place we may end up living part of our lives. A week is not enough to check it out, but it is a start and we can't make a commitment to anywhere else until we have seen NZ.

    Can anyone suggest a place that:

    - has a good climate for small scale vegetable farming, particularly rainfall and soil
    - is relatively inexpensiveness and quiet/unpopular
    - is as close as possible to quality mountains for backcountry skiing (resorts are not necessary so long as I can access snow from the road, or near to it)
    - a long snow season would be nice
    - has a sense of township community/social fabric

    West coast looks great but mountain access not so easy on a daily basis

    Also, I consider a 60 minute drive to the snow to be very long. Do I need to recalibrate in NZ?
     
    #1 damian, Sep 11, 2011
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  2. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    I'd seriously consider Southland mate. Invercargill gets a lot of shit (mainly from people from "up north") but it ticks a lot of your boxes.

    - One of the best agricultural/horticultural regions in NZ. (it can be windy and wet, but good soils and reliable rainfall)
    - CHEAP
    - You have Fiordland (which needs its own discussion), Takitimu mountains, Eyre Mountains, Hector and Garvie Mountains and more all well within 2 hours drive. 2 hours drive to the Queenstown and the Wakatipu area, 3 to Wanaka and 4 - 4.5 to the Mackenzie/Aoraki, all of the latter places are VERY doable for weekend trips.
    - The longest snow season is in the central southern alps, but to really take advantage of it you need to be buying heli time to access. Most places in NZ would offer a solid 4 months + for BC endeavours, but this can be variable. Depending on your terrain preferences, there are certainly options in the Darran Mountains (Northern Fiordland) well into December many years
    - Invercargill is a small city, and having grown up there I'd certainly say it's got that feel (if you ignore the riff raff, which is easy). Lots of other small rural towns around the place too. If you really want to be in the thick of epic BC only terrain, Te Anau could be worth a look. Slightly further north there are options in central otago too, but as far as vegetable growing goes, you're starting to get pretty dry/irrigation reliant! Central Otago is generally not terribly cheap either.

    Twizel, in the heart of the MacKenzie country could be another option, but again, DRY. Also nowhere near as cheap as it once was, plenty of washed up climbing/ski bums around the place though.
     
  3. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    ah just saw your accessing snow from the road, bc spots in NZ would require a wee bit of foot power to get you going.

    If you're prepared to "recalibrate" slightly, I think you could certainly find what you are after here, but the BC isn't as easily won as Japan (or even Australia in some cases from what I've seen).

    [​IMG]
    A spot I haven't quite managed to make it to this year (friends have, rated it) but you can reach the treeline from the road end in three hours and there's a great hut up there... I think most NZ spots are probably bes suited to overnighters...
     
    #3 Red_switch, Sep 11, 2011
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  4. damian

    damian A Local

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    Very good reply, lots of info, thank you. And I didn't know about the growing conditions down near Invercargill, though regular temps in the 20's for 3 months would be better.

    Lots of questions. I'll just go with one that grabbed my attention: is the road to Milford Sound shut in winter?
    http://www.topomap.co.nz/NZTopoMap?v=2&ll=-45.131333,167.9964&z=10
     
    #4 damian, Sep 11, 2011
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  5. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    Slightly further inland you'll see those sorts of temps. See if you can find the southland topoclimate info online, if you can't I'll see if I can track it down. What are you planning on growing?

    No, the Milford Road is not shut in winter. Sometimes it is when avvy danger is very high (which is not uncommon) or when monstrously huge avvys block the road (sometimes taking days to clear). But generally it's passable, worth too much to be closed for too long (tourism + lobster fishery). That area is absolutely spectacular during winter, if you like your terrain with a helping of steep, then it's next level. For anything beyond mellow sound winter mountaineering skills are required though.

    Further south the Borland Road offers similar access into mellower (but still pretty dece) terrain. You will likely never see any other skiers around here.
     
  6. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    Milford Rd only occasionally closed due to avalanche danger or debris
     
  7. damian

    damian A Local

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    #7 damian, Sep 11, 2011
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  8. damian

    damian A Local

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  9. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    The webpage for the milford road weather stations (part of the avalanche control network) used to be publicly accessible with live streaming data. Unfortunately it's now password protected. Watching the snow depth graphs during big W storms used to be awesome!

    Somewhere there should be a regional generalised map like this. Some really impressive data collection and modelling went into it a few years back. We had a paper copy on the wall of our map library at uni, not sure if it's still there.
     
    #9 Red_switch, Sep 11, 2011
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  10. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    Ah you've found it, ES are hosting it now.

    What are you planning on growing? Anything specific? Unusual?
     
  11. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    Oh and the Milford Road is not really gnarly at all!
     
  12. damian

    damian A Local

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    My way of life these days is based around so-called homestead farming. So I'll grow anything that grows where I live and is edible. I have no target crops, though missing out on corn and tomatoes would be a bummer.

    I didn't mean Milford Road being gnarly. Based on what you said, I meant the terrain accessible from there being gnarly. I like mountain passes, but no need for the terrain to be super gnarly as far as the eye can see.
     
  13. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    Oh yeah, you'll be sweet as in southland. With a tunnel/hot house no need to miss out on tomatoes at least.

    Yea, the terrain around the homer tunnel is gnarly, lots of mellower options around, it's a fairly mountainous province once you get beyond the plains.
     
  14. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    damian - please make sure you take up flyfishing as well ! The Kiwi's are also partial to a bit of deer and pig hunting as well. Should supplement your proposed lifestyle very well !
     
  15. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    What about Cromwell ?
     
  16. Telestrom

    Telestrom A Local

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    I'm going to go on a slightly different tack and suggest somewhere in the Nelson region. The Nelson region is fantastic for growing fruit and veg.

    It's also not too far to Nelson Lakes NP where you can access some great walks and some great backcountry skiing. I personally think Nelson Lakes is highly underrated. The scenery is up there with anything else in the SI.

    Lake Angelus hut is a great place to stay (although a bit of digging is probably required when snow conditions are this deep)

    [​IMG]

    View looking down onto Lake Angelus.

    [​IMG]


    And this vid will give you a taster of the backcountry in Nelson Lakes NP.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDCkUJHwz5A
     
    #16 Telestrom, Sep 11, 2011
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  17. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    Yea nelson wouldn't be a bad option. Lot's of stinkin' hippies up that way though, and not quite so cheap!

    Somewhere around fairlie could be good to, have the Two Thumbs on your door step and not too far to the central alps.

    Cromwell is a bit of a bogan town, not quite as bad as Alexandra though.

    Realistically best bet would be to come here, travel around, and see what area tickles your fancy. Be prepared to travel if you do settle down here too though. Daily access (or thereabouts) to the snow from the west coast is possible, but you'd need to be on very good terms with the local chopper pilots [​IMG]
     
    #17 Red_switch, Sep 11, 2011
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  18. damian

    damian A Local

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    Climberman - one of the best things about Australia is that there are so many kangeroos to shoot. I have a mountain home vegetable garden set up in Japan. A few things are missing from the bigger picture of life here - one is hunting.

    Nelson area - Nelsons Lakes NP is totally new to me. The challenge without living in NZ for a full cycle of seasons is that you just don't know where the snow falls and how it does so. I'll have to research more. In the meantime, this got me looking again at the west side of Arthers Pass: how is life there, somewhere near Lake Brunner?
     
  19. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    Hippies and rednecks. The 'coast is great.
     
  20. damian

    damian A Local

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    Cool. I would never had a clue that those mountains with that snow where there in that place (please excuse my ignorance).

    Nice big turns on tele as well. You?
     
    #20 damian, Sep 11, 2011
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  21. andrew7

    andrew7 Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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    Hey Damian, interesting that you're casting the net to see what suits your lifestyle in the future. I guess I'm surprised your contemplating leaving Japan as you seem to have a great set-up in Haks....are the events of March (and on-going) are big factor? Feel the need to get closer to home? (I get that having lived in Whistler for 4 years)
     
  22. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    I learnt to ski up that away

    most undercooked poart of nz IMO
     
    #22 Donza, Sep 12, 2011
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  23. Untele-whippet

    Untele-whippet beard stroker Ski Pass: Gold

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    That is disturbing! I thought bogans only resided in 'Stralya, are they propagating elsewhere?
     
    #23 Untele-whippet, Sep 12, 2011
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  24. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    My favoureite lifestyle !
     
    #24 climberman, Sep 12, 2011
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  25. damian

    damian A Local

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    Never said I'd be leaving here, but I do need diversification and an Australian (NZ!?) home-base.

    From many perspective I have a very full life here, especially from a farming and mountain perspective, though a few fundamental and valuable things are missing in Japan. But that is not the point. Nearly everyone I know who is not Japanese but lives in Japan also has a home elsewhere. I don't. That is the point for me.

    Also, my wife is Japanese but quite westernised in thought and it is her strong ambition to live a good portion of her life outside of Japan. Or at a minimum, go between the two places regularly.

    Events of March: they are not a trigger by themselves. I've always felt that Japan has serious macro risks, and March was an event from that risk profile, so to speak. Draw a 150km radius circle around every aging and poorly managed nuke plant in Japan (all of them). Then try and find a place to live that does not fall inside one of those circles. Add an inept and historically corrupt power system, intensely greedy corporations and a population that has no will power for self determination or protest (sheep in the worst sense). Add overpopulation and a dependence on imported fuel and food. Consider geopolitical troubles unresolved from the past and bubbling for the future. A failed economy that is practically un-fixable. Then remember it is one of the most unstable tectonic areas on Earth. Macro risks = it makes rational sense to have a base elsewhere if you also hold a passport for elsewhere.
     
    #25 damian, Sep 12, 2011
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  26. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    The washed up reclusive old punks are the best. Exhibit A Barrytown.
     
    #26 Red_switch, Sep 12, 2011
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  27. andrew7

    andrew7 Addicted Ski Pass: Silver

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    All makes sense Damian: maybe you should consider Mt Beauty at the base of Falls, part of the amptly named pretty valley. Cost of housing pretty low v most other mountain towns and the climate is conducive to food growing! Backcountry and mt bogong makes for excellent touring...
     
  28. damian

    damian A Local

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    No worries, we are seriously considering places like that. Pity it isn't closer to the Kosci main range area which I quite liked. Of course we are in no rush at all, just can't start to focus until we have ruled NZ either in or out. And that requires a visit and some friendly internet advice to help us check out the right places. So many choices in NZ!
     
  29. weerab

    weerab One of Us

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    Not as wild as NZ but you have the whole Bogong hgh plains and Mt Bogong very near and Feathertop not too far away. My wife and I have a 1 acre block in nearby Tawonga south and you can grow anything there. We planted trees about five years ago and they have really taken off without too much help given that we don't live there. The neighbours are growing tomatoes, raspberries etc etc and there are quite a few vineyards close by. Some nice blocks of land have come on to the market recently, they have been growing fruit and green tea.

    http://www.alpinevalleyrealestate.com.au/landforsale.shtml
     
    #29 weerab, Sep 12, 2011
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  30. damian

    damian A Local

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    If you can go without the Main Range nearby, it is the logical town in Oz, that's for sure. My mum was actually born in MB and grew up there.
     
  31. Bluebear

    Bluebear Hard Yards

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    I think the length of season, snow depth and quality pretty much makes the choice of australia for your second home NQR.
    Do not get me wrong i love Mt Bogong and will go for a week a year but knowing Damian a little i think it would not suit at all.
    Keep on the NZ path!!
     
  32. Rabid K9

    Rabid K9 A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    Damian - my thoughts will be sure to rile a few Kiwis' up, which is good!

    I thought similiar things about South Island NZ & to get somewhat of a feel for the place, applied the same 'get off the beaten' track approach there as Japan. In my opinion, Queenstown can implode up it's own 'triple extreme bungy jumping from a jetboat suspended from a slate grey paraglider piloted by a Norgwegian tranvestite supermopel backside' for all I care, but I have nicer opinions of other areas.

    Firstly let me say, we have involuntarily adopted a large proportion of strays Kiwis' here in 'Strayla, for a long time in my naive early adulthood, I said 'I've never met a Kiwi I didn't like'. Now I've changed my opinion, but must of the ones I like are still safely in their homeland. The reasons so many Kiwis' are over here, aren't the ones that would prevent me living there:

    My three interelated reasons I couldn't live there are (and these will sound strange to some):

    * Lack of biological diversity. Without the introduced ferals & so many of their native birds extinct or severely reduced in range, it's a empty land. There's a reason Kiwi's show a more irrational fear of all things biting than the English! Likewise with plants, coming from Australia, I count my floral friends in the 1000's not by my fingers. It's OK if your the sort of person that thinks a native forest looks the same as a gorse & willow filled paddock, but this really affects my feel for the place.
    * Level of environmental degradation. We are no stranger to it here, but environmental decay reached further than my pre-conceptions of the place. Strange from a country of recent & low population density.
    * Lack of genetic diversity. Multi-culturalism causes many problems, lack of attractive women & excesses of ginger children are not some of them!!

    But should I decide to forgo my love of native plants & animals, good looking females & put aside my discrimination of dreaded ranga's, with your points in mind, would consider either:

    Kaikoura Area: lots of underated mountain country with some genuine big mountain terrain close to the coast. Outback NZ type hinterland areas, a fertile sea, good surf & from what I've seen, pulls in some of the big snowfalls from the SE systems. A decent growing climate but unreliable snow in westerly patterns, well known parts not particularly cheap land but I'm sure some pockets exist if you look around.

    Inland Kaikoura's - the odd bit of wind....
    [​IMG]

    Mackenzie District - love the sense of space & landscape here. Endless backcountry terrain, some of it 'easyish' access (for NZ) & big tough mountains for whatever level you choose. Close to the main swathe of Southern Alps, so could ride backcountry here year round, if you've got strong legs and/or a chopper. On the negative side, popular areas seem to be quite expensive & the the mixture of rain shadow aridity & cold would make certain crops challenging. No ocean, but good terrestrial hunting.

    Mackenzie District - Lake Ohau.
    [​IMG]

    Kaikoura's would grow better food & has the sea to provide, Mackenzie has unbeatable mountain terrain. I also don't mind the Wanaka area, even with my views on Queenstown but cheap land & Wanaka wouldn't be used on the same page! As for recalibrating, yes, definitely coming from Japan. Youthful, unstable mountains, a distinct snowline, unreliable conditions, difficult access to snowline, often long, risky approaches for genuine foot accessed backcountry, all make the good days that much harder & more rewarding.

    All of the above said, throw in a few more native plants & animals, half the saucy lasses from Japan & Perth and I'd probably move there myself, even though the mountains avalanche or rockslide everytime you so much as look sideways.
     
    #32 Rabid K9, Sep 14, 2011
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  33. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    The Kaikoura region can be horrifically dry (like, drier than the mackenzie). Worth bearing in mind.
     
  34. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    pretty little rainbow
    [​IMG]
     
    #34 Donza, Sep 14, 2011
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  35. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    I'd check rainbow out if it wasn't what like 8 hours away?
     
  36. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    yeah...easy 8....
    depends on how sweet Lewis pass is at the time...

    best bit of the south island I reckon...

    just so mellow and quiet

    you'd be able to grow veges there damien...
     
  37. James B

    James B One of Us

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    I think K9 picked up a few misconceptions in his time in NZ. Some rather odd comments there. Especially about "lack of genetic diversity" - obviously he was not looking too hard around him. And the lack of biological diversity means he is only thinking about large furry creatures. Broaden your outlook and consider birds, sea life and invertebrates and you'll find a more complex picture. Surely the interesting geology rates a mention too?
    But this is a ski forum. For consistently better snow pack, sheer diversity of ski terrain and decent steep mountains, there is just no contest.
    Lots of Kiwis go to Australia. Usually for the money or career advances. Lots of Australians come to NZ too, you know. And its usually not for the money, its the outdoors lifestyle for most of them.
     
  38. damian

    damian A Local

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    K9 - living in Japan I am already overexposed to the lack of biodiversity on an industrialised island. I won't go into it here, but it is pervasive from forests to rivers to the people and their actions. I'd say NZ would be an improvement [​IMG]

    Thanks everyone for the very useful suggestions. I really need to get there and spend 3 weeks driving around. Unfortunately my wife has a very demanding job and as of last week she no longer make it to NZ this october. So my trip is off. Bugger. "Lets go next year". Since when in life has it been ok to delay a first step of a long journey for almost year? Oh well.

    As for my dreaming and scheming in the meantime, what town has about 10,000 people in it, is near mountains and has a community of active outdoors people and bars etc where like-mined outdoors people meet and build friendships and share adventures? I'm guessing it is expensive Wanaka?
     
    #38 damian, Oct 3, 2011
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  39. Heinz

    Heinz Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Wanaka doesn't have 10,000 but otherwise matches your description. Hawea a few kms away I think would be more affordable.
     
  40. climberman

    climberman CloudRide1000 Legend Ski Pass: Gold

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    #40 climberman, Oct 3, 2011
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  41. damian

    damian A Local

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    Thanks guys.

    Doesn't have to be 10,000. Just enough to create some critical mass in social fabric between people who share a similar lifestyle. That means a town large enough to support a few blocks and intersections in the 'cbd' with a few bars, cafes, hangouts. Places where people meet and share a few thoughts in their daily comings-and-goings. For example, "hey Bob, whats up? Just got back from the south face of xyz with John, good skiing, stable snow. Say hi to your dad for me, see you round, you going to the pub tomorrow night? My shout" That kind of thing. Where people live there to be in the mountains (not at the foot of them. Not in ski resorts. But in the mountains). I've started suggesting to my wife we move to the US for that kind of English speaking town! I'd rather live in NZ or Oz.
     
    #41 damian, Oct 3, 2011
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  42. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    Touring isn't quite as easily accessible from Wanaka/Hawea compared to other similar towns... especially for day trips.

    Damian, in any town in NZ, the number of people that would have those conversations is pretty small.
     
  43. damian

    damian A Local

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    But the farming is really bad and land really expensive in Chamonix. I do have an EU passport burning a hole in my sock draw right now.
     
  44. Red_switch

    Red_switch Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: 30 Day

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    Haha, wouldn't chamonix just be the ducks nuts. Smaller towns that aren't directly connected to the commerical ski industry don't even have ski shops. In fact, most of the snow shops in the major cities are shit too (with a few exceptions). You should give glenorchy a hoon.