Mountains, Social Life in a Ski Town, Wanaka, Work Life
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Welcome to Winter in Wanaka

The last couple of days were filled with organising my new life here in Wanaka and lots of administrative tasks such as signing the rental agreement, handing in documents and employment agreement to my employer, organising bank account & tax number to get paid, getting a couple of things I will need at the house, etc. I’m done with most of the things by now and finally have some time for a blog update.

Wanaka welcomed us skibums in the probably best way possible: with snow and freezing temperatures, snow-covered mountains around the lake and sometimes even snow down to the valley (which apparently is a rather rare thing to happen in New Zealand). At the same time we got a friendly and warm welcome into the Cardrona family (Cardrona Alpine Resort is the ski field I’ll be working for this season) during a well-organised week of staff meetings, team-building workshops, study sessions, a mountain visit, safety instructions, and of course: a staff welcome party.

My personal highlight of this induction week was the first visit to the mountain. Already the process of getting there actually. In New Zealand you do not get up the mountain by cable car or lift as we’re used to in Europe, you access the ski resort by driving there. Preferably in a four-wheel drive with snow chains – as we found out during our first ride up there. All mountain staff is transported to the ski field in 10-seater-vans that pick up people at various locations in town and get them safe up the 27 km road that leads to the base of Cardrona Alpine Resort. One essential part of our training consisted in learning how to fit snow chains to our vans – a lesson repeated a couple of times in harsh conditions to make sure everyone’s fingers were frozen by the end of this exercise.

Once we were up there, we explored the ski field (without skis though), the local food places, got lockers, season’s passes, staff uniforms and a seemingly never-ending amount of information about the ski school products, kindy programmes, the lake Wanaka region, health and safety (medical centre provides ski instructors with condoms), all finished by a talk from the local police officer (whose biggest concern seems to be drunk ski instructors waking up the neighbourhood on their way home from the bars). I was amazed how well-organised the whole induction process was and although it was a lot of information it was probably the best introduction I ever had into a working environment.

The rest of the week was filled with theoretical training, group assignments, socialising and making ourselves at home in Wanaka. It is an absolutely amazing place – a true little paradise where the world still seems to be alright. I’ll try to post some pictures when the sun finally comes through one of these days – it mostly has been raining or snowing over the last days which resulted in massive amounts of snow on the mountain. Cardrona was supposed to open today but postponed the opening date because of too much snow. Instead the locals went water-skiing on Lake Wanaka…. Let’s see if Cardrona is open tomorrow – in case I get up there I’ll take my camera and post some pictures soon.

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