First thing next morning, a quick trip to Mt Cook village to NOT see Mt Cook due to cloud, and then on to Queenstown to meet up with Pink Houser Chris.
We met at the world famous Fergburger, a quality burger establishment with a reputation stretching as far as the UK, and home to such classics as the Cockadoodle Oink, the chicken and bacon burger.
I was instantly taken by Queenstown. With ski-boots full of character, it's compact, clean and friendly and commands stunning views of The Remarkables and Coronet Peak. And whilst it's usually populated by people wearing idiotic ski hats and using phrases like "great powder today" and "have you seen my new gold-plated snowboard bindings", it still doesn't feel exclusive or pretentious.
The next day Lou and I were off up the hairiest of winding mountain tracks in a 4x4 bus to the summit of The Remarkables for a beginners ski-lesson. Unfortunately, however, although we did have a great day, it was no thanks to Diana, the worst ski-ing instructor in the world.
The only lesson we learned that day was never trust a Spaniard on skis.
Her crimes included:
* Waffling on in a thick Fast-Show-Channel-9 style eth-eth-eth accent. Slightly racist perhaps, but when you consider her sole task is to COMMUNICATE with people and CONVEY information, the fact that she couldn't pronounce the word "lean", or "wedge" or even "skis", was a serious problem. No one says Spaniards shouldn't ski. But a Spaniard who can't speak English teaching ski-ing ...that's different.
That was the least of it, however.....
* Texting some bloke she'd met the night before. Often whilst in the middle of a sentence: "OK, so eeeef you turn berry berry hard....(beep beep)....one moment................(giggle) (giggle)........"
At one point I'd fallen across the Travellator-type thing, returning skiers to the stop of the slope, and she didn't even notice because she was arsing about with her phone.
* Beginning the next wave of instruction for the few people who had made it back up to the top of the slope whilst half the group was still floundering on their backs like upturned ladybirds at the bottom.
* Forgetting who was in her group. She hardly spoke to Louise for the entire 3 hours.
* Issuing esoteric, non-sensical instructions. When I asked her what was wrong with my "snow-plough" manoeuvre, she responded "Tonight, take your girlfriend out in the moonlight and dance"
What does that even mean?
Aaaaaanyway, the next day we decided to abandon instruction and headed over to Coronet Peak for some self-tuition. And thank god we did. We learned more the second day without instruction than we did the previous day with instruction.
Purely by trial and error and practice, by the end of the day we had mastered left and right turns and even moved up to the next slope.
Still not a patch on Chris, however, who zipped in and out and round us on his super-duper new snowboard.
Queenstown. I love you.