The day the snow came to Queenstown

My creativity has left the building!  With two new branding briefs sitting on my desk the best I can manage at the moment is doodling – not particularly helpful.  So I thought I would procrastinate and tell you another story – this one isn’t about me.

After a few relaxing days (where I also caught the flu) in Lake Tekapo and a brief stint at Snow Park, we drove into Queenstown.  Even though I was sick as a dog (sicker if thats possible) coming down from altitude with the flu, rolling off the Crown Range and seeing the valley in which Queenstown is nestled was magical.  I closed my eyes and exhaled a long breath… finally after two years… we were home again.

Unfortunately our first stop was not our accommodation – it was rather the Remakables Park Pharmacy where I proceeded to load myself up with assorted flu drugs.  I shook my head approvingly when they told me what not to take together – thinking the whole time “I need to get to the cafe and take at least one of everything I bought” and that is precisely what I did.  I was so drug addled by the time we’d had lunch – I had all but forgotten the shaky trip down Snow Park mountain and over the Crown Range.  My pharmaceutical binge wasn’t to keep me on my feet for long though.  We check in, got the luggage in and I flopped on the couch… thinking “this is where I am going to stay” but knowing “its Stockers 30th, get your arse up – at very least you are going out for dinner”.  While my internal struggle continued we switched on the box (there is actually a channel in New Zealand called “The Box” and its my favourite) very soon after we were confronted with a weather report.  It informed us that in two days time we would be in the midst of a “Polar Blast” at the time we weren’t aware that translated into the worst snow storm in a lifetime.  We had never seen it snow in the little town of Queenstown before – so we were excited, but nervous.  While it has never snowed when we were there before, I have been on a few jaunts to the Northern Hemisphere and I have had the unique (and expensive) experience of being snowed in.

I did make it in to town that night and we had seafood chowder – it was good… but I didn’t have much in me  and I soon retired.  The next day was quite literally the day before the storm.  We packed into the little supermarket along side the locals buying emergency food etc in cause supplies in town ran out (they only ran out of diesel and milk – but there is no harm in being prepared).  We also started scouting locations for our wedding and trying to find where to apply for permits to have said wedding.

We went to bed that evening not knowing what to expect.

In the morning at around 10am, the snow started falling softly onto our balcony…. and it was the most magical thing I have ever seen – and probably will ever see.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, freshly falling snow is spectacular – something that everyone should see once in their life.  This snow was different to regular, wet Southern Hemisphere snow, it was light, dry and falling in big flakes.  It was at that point we discovered a problem.  Stocker had traveled with one pair of shoes… they were his work shoes and they were neither waterproof or warm.  The snow was intermittent but walking in it was bliss – well for me, I had snow boots (Aldi $27ea).  It was disappearing when it hit the warm ground at that stage and I didn’t think it would get much worse.  Regardless, we went into town in search of a pair of snow boots for him (he hates Aldi).  The cheapest we found was $127NZD and in Stockers words they were “ugly”.  We only found one store who kept the “ugly” boots in his size… he tried, looked, moaned and then said he needed to think about it.

Snow continued to fall… we went to bed with about 2mm covering our balcony and most of the town (little less than a dusting – nothing really).  Stocker was being cocky telling me how he’d saved us $127… the next morning he ate his words.  We woke up to about 30cm of snow on the balcony with it set in for the rest of the day.  Naturally I needed to immediately go and play in it (as you do), Stocker begrudgingly followed, knowing that he was bound to have 3rd degree frost bite in his feet by the end of the day because of his retail procrastination the day before.  Stopping every 2 metres to take a photo and play the trip into town (about 500m walk) took about 40 minutes.  By this stage Stocker was almost reduced to tears.  We went back to the show shop – who had sold the ugly shoes at 9am that morning… I say a streak of regret flash across Stockers face – then I realized it was just intense pain from his toes thawing out… hah.  We tried every store in Queenstown to find a pair of snow boots, twice.  Every shop was sold out of every pair… and the shops had started to close because of the volume of snow… hope was fading so in the last store I convinced Stocker to buy two packs of “toe warmers” (little self activated heat packs you stick to your socks).  Rather than the normal $3 a pair – the shop owner had wised up and they were now at the tender price of $8ea….

The thing about snow is… when the sun hits it during the day it goes slushy then it refreezes at night and you are left with ice… we would have ice for the rest of our trip.  Snow boots have thin soles which allow the heat from your foot to melt the ice a little and get some traction while keeping your feet dry and insulated warm…. Stocker ice skated for the next week — everywhere…. Naturally I did my bit to help and reminded him of his missed opportunity on the Saturday for…. actually, I am still reminding him at least once a day.  I say its because I am a good woman, he says its because I am a hanus bitch… Aren’t they the same thing?

Moral of the story: An ugly boot will still keep your feet warm and $127 is a lot cheaper than prosthetic toes lost from frost bite.

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