Winter’s here and Grant Blair asks the question: skis or snowboards?

Both snowboards and skis are great options so your choice of platform will come down largely to preference. It’s been said that skiing is the easier of the two to learn but the harder to master. Skiing with a smooth, flowing style takes a good number of hours, hard yards and the occasional mouthful of white fluffy stuff.

Skiing is the more natural of the two disciplines, with each leg independent of the other one, but that does mean those planks can cross up, which usually doesn’t have a great outcome! Recent developments with twin-tip skis means that tricks like skiing backwards, once the exclusive domain of snowboarders, are now options for skiers.

Learning to snowboard is a hard and bruising exercise, but providing you master heel and toe edging, you can progress to a reasonable level very quickly.

Having both feet strapped together on one platform means that if you feel you’re going to fall you probably will. Skateboarders and surfers are used to the side-on stance and somewhat reduced peripheral vision and so have a bit of an advantage in getting going.

For both options, a bit of speed generally makes things like turning easier, but it can be a fine line between enough speed and all hell breaking loose. It’s easy to become a passenger on a plank or two hurtling towards a hospital bed at warp speed.

Staying in control is rule number one on the slopes, for the safety of yourself and others. Wrist, arm, shoulder and ankle injuries are more common in boarders while leg and knee injuries occur more frequently in skiing accidents. Any of those will ruin a good holiday in the snow.

Technology has woven it’s way into all sports and snow sports are no exception. Ski boots need to fit well because poorly fitting boots will end in tears. Hire boots are more malleable and multi-fit these days, but if you’re considering owning anything, the place to start is a pair of comfortable boots.

Boards and skis are fine to hire, and with the relentless technology race, hiring is probably a smart move as your gear will be out of date by next season. For the best advice on what suits your level of expertise call in to a local ski shop and talk to the experts. Most shops will have good deals for a few days’ hire and some will not charge if the local ski areas are closed and you didn’t ski.

Keep an eye out for demo days on the mountain as these are a great opportunity to try the latest gear and find something that really works for you.


The South Island’s ski fields are easy accessible from anywhere in the country and many would argue they have better average snow conditions over the season. The smaller club fields have fewer facilities, from lifts to road access, but can be a ton of fun with a group of like-minded mates or family. Check out what’s available online as there are many options.

You’ll find all the larger fields have great facilities, including good road access, high capacity lifts and unlimited quantities of flat whites if that’s your thing.

Old school thinking is to follow the fall line and keep your shoulders facing downhill. It still works and is the base for developing a style that turns heads.

Grant Blair has been skiing for around 50 years.