Silverdale: Snow much fun

By Danielle Wright

Danielle Wright and family take a spin on Snowplanet's newest offering: snow tubes.

Snowtubing at Snowplanet. Photo / Paul Abbott
Snowtubing at Snowplanet. Photo / Paul Abbott

It's typical. You organise something exciting for the kids to do and they'd rather do the familiar: walk to the park around the corner for a play.

After much protesting, we finally get in the car and head for Silverdale's Snowplanet - a slice of winter wonderland in Auckland. It's a popular choice and the line extends out the front door just to get tickets; it takes us about half an hour to get to the front.

"They're wearing gumboots!" I hear an international visitor in the line exclaim of kids going on to the snow. I suppose it must seem odd to people from countries where winter boots and snow are part of daily winter life to come through the carpark, past sheep, and see Kiwi kids borrowing gumboots to enter the snow park.

We put ours on a bit sheepishly and finally get on to the snow - only to be immediately knocked over by a kid in a rainbow spike beanie (apparently not) learning to snowboard.

Nevermind, we grab our snow tubes - modified inner tubes with handles - and head to the conveyor belt to the top of a small hill, which has a bumpy slope going back to the start.

It's similar to tubing behind a boat, and also a bit like sledding. The tubes are known as "donuts" or "biscuits" because of their shape and the activity is believed to have begun back in the 1820s.

The great thing about these inner tube thrill-rides is that you don't have to learn the ropes first - no lessons or awkward stage, just straight into the action.

Our three-year-old daughter, Georgie, can't wait to get to the top and I see her trying to push along the side of the conveyor belt to get there quicker.

As soon as we make it to the top, she suddenly feels nervous and makes me go down the slope with her, tripping me into the snow tube as it starts to slide so one of my feet is sticking out in a ridiculous fashion as we spin to the bottom.

It's so much fun that I want to go again, but now Georgie wants to be a big girl and do it all by herself. Her older brother, Henry, has been snowtubing like a professional - and loving it - I watch him ad-lib and go for a ride on his tummy.

Even as an anxious parent, I can't see too much that can go wrong - except for an annoying teenage snowboarder who insists on going down the snow tubing slope, terrifying all the kids.

Taylor Swift music seems to be on rotation as onlookers peer through the cafe window, seeing plenty of rosy cheeks and near misses on the slope.

We last an hour, with plenty of "just one more ride" pleas before convincing our shivering kids to throw in the towel and go home. It's the usual story, you have to drag your kids along to something new and then they don't want to leave.

If you're usually a couch potato, this is the perfect winter sport for you - just ditch the remote control for a pair of gloves, hop into a reclining position in the big donut and you're on your way. If you're really lazy, you can always ask your family to pull you back up the slope afterwards, too.

LET IT SNOW

Snow tubing costs $19 for adults and $15 for children/students (not including gumboot hire), or $39 for a family of 1 adult and 2 children. Snowplanet is at 91 Small Rd, Silverdale, 0800 SNOWPLANET.

Where to eat: If you can find a table (we couldn't, they were filled with dads on laptops working while their kids were on the snow), there's a cafe on site with a Wendy House for young children to play in, a modern glass fireplace feature, and of course, views of the slope.

Around the corner, at the Silverdale Hall on Silverdale's main street filled with outlet stores, there's a Saturday market from 8am-1pm. It has plants, jewellery, farm produce and homemade pickles, among other locally made offerings.

We're told it's also nice to have a picnic in the grounds of the Pioneer Village up the road, with some of the home baking available at local cafes.

- NZ Herald

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