New Zealand

New Zealand’s South Island is home to many unique species that have developed in isolation for hundreds of millions of years. Among them are The Kiwi and Kea birds, and the Podocarp forest. In the New Zealand alpine, we find another unique phenomena: club fields, which are low budget, co-op operations squarely focused upon delivering high times. Colin Wiseman, Alex Yoder and Forrest Shearer circumnavigate the South Island in search of community vibrations.

…About a half hour into the hike, it started to snow. Large, heavy flakes obscured views to the alpine and the highway below, leaving us isolated on the treeless ridge. Thirty minutes later, we reached the lodge. There were a dozen people present in the thin-walled, two-story abode, staff included. Manager Todd Windle welcomed us with hot soup and good news: although things looked bleak down low, there was a solid snowpack up high. Although it hadn’t snowed in a month, the storm was upon us and wouldn’t let up all night.

At sunrise, Alex peeked out the upper-floor bunkroom window. “There’s snow to the valley,” he said, “and a few feet on the ground here.” The predictions had come true. The skies were blue. The wind was blowing. It was all hands on deck to get Temple Basin operational.

Most people wouldn’t expect to pitch in to get a resort open for the day. But most wouldn’t expect to hike an hour just to reach the resort either. And this is, perhaps, the beauty of the clubbies: they are true community-driven operations. There isn’t any pretense of forthcoming condo developments, sushi joints or dollar signs. Rather, the sole aim is to provide good times at a reasonable rate…

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