British freestyle skier James ‘Woodsy’ Woods won the gold medal in the FIS Freestyle Ski Slopestyle at the 2017 Audi quattro Winter Games and he will be a hot favourite should he line up again in 2018.
The champion freestyle skier spends his New Zealand winters in Wanaka and heads to the slopes of Cardrona to master his trade. We asked Woodsy about his love affair with New Zealand.
What makes New Zealand special?
There are so many reasons why New Zealand is special for me. The thing is, it is as beautiful as everyone says and once you experience the incredible mountains, deserted beaches and endless adventure that is to be had you will 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. For me personally, since my first ever trip I couldn't help feeling at home and that feeling hasn't left me.
What are your favourite adventure activities to do here?
Skiing #1, but in a very close tied second is mountain biking and surfing - my two of my favourite hobbies once you count skiing as my job! Both mountain biking and surfing properly started for me in New Zealand and 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; #1 it's summertime everywhere else which means, BONUS time on snow!! #2 You don't live in the snow (which is a pain in the ass and don't let anyone tell you it isn't!), everyday when I finish skiing, I'm straight on the bike or surfing or playing football, frisbee etc. I can't image anything better! #3 the season is so relaxed, as it is with 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!! #4 the snow parks are plainly and simply great.
Where should dedicated skiers and snowboarders 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 is Mt Ruapehu.
What do you love doing in New Zealand, once you're off the slopes?
Everything! Like I said before you don't live in the snow so you can actually do anything.
Where is your favourite place in New Zealand and why?
I've found / been shown some incredible places and secrets all throughout the North Island, but those special places are for you to discover yourself - I recommend an adventure!
My 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, and why?
An insight to some of my secret adventures, my favourite memory of being in Zealand is sailing around the North Island, all the islands, surfing from the boat, hot Christmas and New Year on uninhabited islands - living right.
Your favourite 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!
The best place for a meal for a special night out?
If it's not at one of the BBQ spots at the edge of Lake Wanaka, then one of the few Indian restaurants in Wanaka, because believe it or not New Zealand actually does a quality curry, very much unlike a lot of the places I go! I'm from the UK, 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 you have discovered during you time in New Zealand?
So, so many. Get out there and find yours!!
What is 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.