Professional skiers know a thing or two about adventure – no wonder British freestyle skiing champion James Woods has a soft spot for New Zealand. We met him off the slopes for a quick Q&A on what the country and its powder-topped mountains mean to him…
What makes New Zealand special
There are so many reasons why New Zealand is special to me. It really is as beautiful as everyone says; once you experience the incredible mountains, deserted beaches and endless adventures, you’ll understand. But before I even talk about how beautiful I think the whole country is, the thing that gets me the most is understanding how beautiful the lifestyle is. People live here because they want to: they love New Zealand, they are happy to be here and that rubs off before you’ve even seen it. Since my first ever trip here, I couldn’t help feeling at home and that feeling hasn’t left me.
What are your favourite adventure activities in New Zealand?
Skiing is my number one (as always!), but a very close tied-second are mountain biking and surfing: my two favourite hobbies, once you count skiing as my job! Both mountain biking and surfing properly started for me in New Zealand; it’s always where I enjoy them the most.
What do you love about skiing in New Zealand?
The greatest things about skiing in New Zealand: number one, it’s summertime everywhere else, which means bonus time on snow! Number two: you don’t live in the snow (which is a pain in the ass; don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t!). Everyday when I finish skiing here, I’m straight on the bike or surfing or playing football or frisbee etc; I can’t image anything better! Number three: the season is so relaxed, as is everything in the country, it seems that no one has figured out how amazing this place is. All the good stuff isn’t even busy! Number four: the snow parks are simply great.
Where should dedicated skiers head to in New Zealand – and why?
My go-to place is Wanaka. I ski at Cardrona almost every day, because the park is absolutely one of the best in the world (even compared to the northern hemisphere), and the vibe is perfect for everyone, from pros to total beginners. Treble Cone, too – such an amazing mountain to shred all day – and, of course, on the North island there’s Mt Ruapehu.
Where is your favourite place in New Zealand and why?
I’ve found/been shown some incredible places and secrets throughout the North Island, but those special places are for you to discover yourself – I recommend an adventure! My top spot though is Wanaka: the best skiing, the most gorgeous place on earth, the lake on the doorstep of the Southern Alps, and so close to the coast. I couldn’t ask for more.
What is your favourite memory of being in New Zealand?
My favourite memory of being in Zealand is sailing around the North Island: all those islands, surfing from the boat, a hot Christmas and New Year on uninhabited islands – that’s living right.
Where’s the best place to have a drink with friends after a day on the mountain?
At one of the barbecue spots at the edge of Lake Wanaka – barbecue included, of course!
And for a meal for a special night out?If it’s not at one of the barbecue spots at the edge of Lake Wanaka, then one of the few Indian restaurants in Wanaka. Believe it or not, New Zealand actually does a quality curry – I’m from the UK, so I know good curry!
You’re late for an event, what is your go-to cheap eat?
Steak and pepper pie – easy!
Do you have any favourite hidden gems from your time in New Zealand?So, so many. Get out there and find yours!
What’s the one thing that has surprised you about New Zealand?
Why this isn’t the most populated place on earth! Maybe I’m the crazy one, but honestly I don’t think so!