Herald Travel teamed up with Macpac to seek readers' tips for getting kids on to skis or boards. Here's some of the best advice ...
Macpac prize winners:
Take a photo of your child so you know what they look like when they start skiing, i.e. what gear they are wearing. They all look like black penguins! Or put a high-viz band on their arm so you can see them.
And keep calm. It is manic when you are trying to get everyone off to the slopes to meet lesson times, etc, losing gloves, hats, etc but it's so worth it when you get an amazing run and the kids' cheeks are all rosy and their eyes are sparkling with enjoyment... plus you know they are going to sleep really well that night.
- Charlotte Horan
If you live in or near Auckland, Snow Planet is unbeatable for "demystifying" the whole skis, boots, ski pants, helmet scenario. If your kids can get used to the boots and clicking them into the skis in the warmth and relative calm of a dressing room, as opposed to the bedlam of the ski hire on the mountain, they will be far more relaxed when they get to the real thing.
Throw in a term of lessons, which will get them used to the Poma (ski-lift) as well and then they'll be raring to go.
Also, my husband keeps a packet of barley sugars in his ski jacket so the kids can have one each on the chair lift. Delicious, and it keeps their blood sugar up.
- M Allison
Every child loves to build a snowman so be sure to pack his nose, eyes, scarf and hat. But also be sure to schedule his build for AFTER the lessons.
Start your day with the ski or board lessons as you will have more chance of co-operation, compared to later in the day when they are cold, tired and "HANGRY". (Hungry+angry in the way only small children can get).
- Stacey Smith
Make sure the first two or three times you hit the snow the weather is good. If they get wet and cold, it's hard work. After that, they are into it no matter what
- Richard Clancy
My top tip for getting my 8-year-old on skis - join Scouts. As a Kea (soon to be Cub) Scout, we got access to the Scout lodge just down the hill from the skifield at Ruapehu. An amazing experience for the kids, including getting snowed in for a day last year!
And the lower accommodation cost meant I could splash out on lessons and gear rental - not to mention less time hiking up and down the hill from the plateau and more on the skis (or sipping hot soup afterwards). Of course that's just the tip of the iceberg (or the mountain); Scouting is a top tip for getting them into all sorts of adventures I'd never have been able to access or organise otherwise.
- Paul Dobbin
Realise that teaching your kids to ski now is an investment in your ability to enjoy skiing in the future and don't expect to get a lot of skiing done yourself this time around.
- Daisy Williams
Other great advice:
Take them to the top of the slope. Hand them two cans of lemonade, one in each hand. Tell them to squat as if they are going to the toilet, give them a slight nudge and say you can drink the lemonade when you get to the bottom. It works a treat.
- Liz Saunders
It's got to be fun. Short runs are the way to go and always have a treat at the end. One run then "hey kids, let's build a snowman". Another run ... then "let's have a snow fight". Another run and "hey, who wants a hot chocolate with marshmallows?" etc, etc.
Gradually their stamina will increase and they will want to do less of the playing in the snow and more of the skiing - nothing beats the feeling of skiing with your family - love it!
- Nicole Walkinshaw
You can never have enough layers. Kids get cold on the snow, then they get hot in the cafe. They key is lots of layers. Layers also cushion them if they fall.
- Tony Freeman
Put them into a group lesson together the first day you arrive and you will never look back. Try and do at least three days in a row and the improvement will be immense. Their competitive juices will flow as they all try to outdo each others' "scorecards".
- Georgeina Hawkes
Put your child on a skateboard at home before you leave. This will help them gain the balance and body movements they will need for snowboarding.
- Darren & Rochelle Yoakley
If possible book an afternoon ski lesson for your kids instead of first up in the morning. You won't have to deal with the massive queues for gear and lessons that are normal for the morning sessions and your instructor-to-child ratio will be better in the afternoon. So hopefully your child will get more one-on-one attention and be confidently swooshing down the mountain a lot sooner than if you selected a morning session.
By luck, we managed this at the Remarkables and our two kids (10 and 11) had the instructor to themselves, were taken higher up the mountain a lot earlier and were a lot further ahead of where they might have been if they were two of a group of 15 or so. Result: two very happy, enthusiastic ski kids who love skiing because they had a great first experience.
- Craig Innes