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First time skiing checklist: what to know before you go

So it’s your first time going on a ski holiday? Great! Here are some tips to make it an unforgettable experience.

Skiing at Cardrona, Wanaka, New Zealand

Get fit before you go

Remember, skiing is a sport. You don’t need to be an Olympian to enjoy it but, like with any physical activity, you are likely to enjoy your days more if you have a base level of fitness. No need to head out and run a marathon though! Work yourself up to your holiday by going for some nice long walks or bike rides, and work some leg exercises into your daily routine to strengthen those skiing muscles. A bit of extra work will make a big difference for those first few days on the snow and your body will thank you for it.

Buy your lift pass early

Save time and purchase your lift passes before you head off on your holiday, time saved in queues is more time spent on the snow! Be sure to do your research as well, for your first time skiing you won’t need a lift pass for the whole ski field for the first few days – save a few dollars with a learners lift ticket and work your way up to the rest of the mountain.

Make sure you dress right

If you can borrow ski clothes for your first trip, do it! Ski clothing is expensive so you’re much better off hiring or borrowing clothes for the first trip. A warm base layer is also super important, a woollen long sleeve top and pants are your best protection against the snow, be sure you layer up well, taking layers off when you're too warm is easy, trying to find more layers when you're cold and standing on top of a mountain...not so easy

Riding the chairlift, Cardrona, New Zealand

EXTRA ACCESSORIES YOU WILL NEED

On top of your outer wear you will also need some form of eye protection. Ski goggles are best, especially in the colder weather, but a good pair of sunglasses will work as well. Sun screen is a must, it may be cold but the snow acts like a giant reflective surface and means you will burn much faster than usual. This goes for your lips to, get a heavy duty lip balm with some sunscreen to stop any lip burn. A good pair of gloves is essential, there’s nothing worse than cold hands, a thin glove liner underneath thick ski gloves will do the job nicely. Finally, make sure you buy, borrow or hire a helmet – skiing is a lot of fun, but there is always the chance of a collision or fall. If you don’t want your holiday ruined by a bump on the head, be smart, stay safe and get a helmet!

Get the right equipment

It’s your first time on the snow and ski equipment is extremely pricey – do yourself a financial favour and rent all your gear. When getting fitted for your ski boots be sure that they fit well without any pain or discomfort. If you feel the boots you’ve been given don’t quite fit right, take the time to ensure you have a pair that feel good, your feet will thank you.

Ski lessons are a must for beginners.

You can always tell on the hill who has taken the time to have a lesson and who hasn’t. Those who took a lesson are skiing down the mountain with confidence, laughing and smiling with their family, those who didn’t are on the ground, skis off, close to tears. If you don’t want to spend your whole holiday in a lesson, that’s fine too – look at the possibility of taking a few half day lessons, just be sure that before you go out on your own, you have learned to control your speed, stop, and turn confidently. Lessons are not just about learning to ski or snowboard, they are also about safety. Your instructor will teach you about the Alpine Responsibility Code and how to enjoy the mountain in a safe manner. Lessons will ensure you are on your way to fully enjoying your skiing experience sooner.

HOT TIP #1: It’s tempting for a family with young children to leave the kids in ski school every day. For some children this is a great option, but know your kids and know their limits. Only give them as much skiing as they can handle or they will wind up hating it. Let the kids choose how much skiing they want to do, this way it will stay fun.

Mt Hutt ski field, Methven, New Zealand

Get a ride up the hill

If you’ve never driven in winter conditions it can be scary. Take that nervousness out of the equation by booking a bus or shuttle to get you up and down the hill, the drive to and from the ski field will be much more relaxing and allow you to fully enjoy your days on the snow.

What to expect for your first few days

It may be tough, it may be cold, but you will have a blast! After two or three days you can expect to be skiing down the beginners slopes with confidence. After a week if you are feeling good, you may be ready to tackle your first blue run. Be patient, take the time to learn and don’t push yourself too far too fast. Skiing is like anything else, you need to walk before you can run.

HOT TIP #2: If you’re skiing with friends or family who are experienced, try to resist the temptation to ski with them as soon as you make it down your first run. You may have been hit with the awesome stick and take to skiing like a fish to water, but it is more likely that it will take some time to get confident. Going to big too soon will most likely knock your confidence and make it difficult to continue to enjoy the sport. Only do as much as you are comfortable with, you’ve got plenty of time to get better so take it slow.

Don’t forget

Have fun! Skiing is an incredible sport with so many options for learning and exploring. Ease into it slowly and give yourself plenty of time for learning and you’ll be heli-skiing and venturing into the back country before you know it!

Skiing at Treble Cone, Wanaka