Chasing Winter: AASI Snowboard Team Development Coach Tony Macri in New Zealand

Want to ride the endless winter? AASI Snowboard Team Development Coach Tony Macri talks teaching and riding out the summer in New Zealand.

I first got started chasing winter after I found a job on a live volcano on the North Island of New Zealand. After a few seasons and the resort being closed due to lack of snow and heavy rain, I decided to move to the South Island, which took me to Queenstown where I worked for NZSki, owner of two of the premier resorts in New Zealand. I was based at Coronet Peak but also did work at The Remarkables.

Initially things were a bit tough riding on very icy conditions. The resort was above tree line so there were many days with whiteout conditions with clouds and you couldn’t see where you were going. Another challenge was just getting up the mountain as you had to put chains on your car. Plus, learning how to drive a manual car on the other side of the road added its own challenges. That said, some of the best times in my life were meeting instructors from all over the world and sharing ideas.

The Best of Both Worlds

Being on both the New Zealand and AASI National Teams and on both examining staffs, I’m able to share best practices and ideas from one association to the other. The terrain and clients are very different from the North Island to the South Island, but we still make it all work. This has been key in coordinating our exam processes across the entire country.

If you’re interested in going to New Zealand for the summer, know the timing of the season: It’s early June till late September or early October. You’ll want to apply by January for the upcoming season. Also, you’ll want to start looking for housing early, because similar to most ski towns, it can be challenging to find housing.

As far as days off, you can go to the park with your friends to play a round of disc golf or a round of traditional golf because the snow rarely makes it down into town. As for the social life, it’s pretty similar to most ski towns, except Queenstown is known as one of the best nightlife ski towns in the world with clubs staying open to 5 a.m.

Ultimately, I keep returning because I love the idea of having another set of friends in another part of the world. It’s like when you go back to school after summer break and see all your friends again. I’ve always said that it’s funny how so many of my friends in the United States say, “I am so over it and ready for summer” at the end of the snowsports season even when the snow is still good. Conversely, I’m always excited to ride, so when I get to New Zealand, it’s nice to join friends who are also stoked to ride again. For me, it’s a perfect extension of the season.