A day with Roly in his home resort

Venturing into the pristine wilderness of the backcountry, where untouched snow blankets the landscape and the thrill of adventure beckons, is a dream for many snowboarders. But when you add camping beneath starlit skies, finishing the day with a sunset, and starting it with a sunrise, the experience cannot be beaten. This is Roland’s life; whether he is touring the mountains of Austria or in his home country of New Zealand, Roly is on the lookout for his next mission.

The beauty of backcountry snowboarding is the freedom to explore remote areas and endless untouched powder runs in terrain that your average snowboarder can only dream of shredding! This is the perfect way to describe the Remarkables in New Zealand: Roland’s Home Resort. He knows every bit of terrain up in these mountains, with years of experience and adventuring behind him.

With his 50-litre pack full of all the camping and touring essentials, including the necessary safety equipment like an avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel, to the gourmet meals that are ready to be devoured when camp is set up! Choosing to hike up in snow shoes, carrying the new Thunderstorm strapped to his backpack. He takes on the terrain with the efficiency of a mountain goat, step by step across the steep chutes, to get to his final camping destination under the watchful eye of Double Cone Peak.

After a gruelling 30-minute hike, we made our way up with no mishaps and set up camp overlooking Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. With a lightweight tent and warm sleeping bag set up for a good night's rest, it was time to embrace the simplicity of camping in a snow-covered wilderness. Watching the sun set over the rugged landscape really feels out of this world, occasionally having to pinch yourself to see if you’re dreaming or not! Once the sun had disappeared beneath the horizon, it was time for a different kind of light show, with the sky starting to fill up with stars that could only be described as magical. Prepare yourself for a temperature drop and a wind chill that gets you to the bones; a good down jacket and a thermos full of warm tea are a necessity at this point! The tiredness starts kicking in, and the cold, crisp air is too much to stand, so it’s time to settle into the warm sleeping bags for the evening.

“The best view in all of New Zealand; you can’t really beat the sunset from on top of The Remarkables.”

The morning light bounces off the snowcapped peaks, matching the stunning views that you witnessed the night before! You feel reluctant to get out of your cosy sleeping bag with the internal side of the tent covered in ice, but the only way to warm up is to get moving, pack your things up, and strap in for a morning shred. The warmth of the sun starts to radiate onto your face, heating you up from the outside in. With the tent packed up, it was time to put the first tracks down one of the selections of chutes on offer. On this particular morning, we chose the aptly named "INTIMIDATOR,” which Roly describes as “fucking awesome!”

“Pack a thermos full of hot water; that way, you can put it in your sleeping bag to keep your toes warm.”

To Roland, this is everyday stuff; with all of the extreme aspects coming very naturally to him, he’s well and truly in his comfort zone. He seemed super composed and relaxed. He straps into the Atom bindings, which are a perfect match for the thunderstorm to charge steep terrain. He steadies himself before dropping in, and then the moment comes and he's away. With effortless style and movement, he cruises his way down a steep chute with a big smile on his face, enjoying every second like it’s the first time he’s done this! To some snowboarders, this is a distant dream; to Roly, it's his lifestyle. Throughout the whole trip, you can tell how much love he has for his home resort. Talking about it passionately with the biggest smile on his face, it’s hard not to fall in love with the place.

“On a good day, The Intimidator is fu*$ing awesome!”

Rider: Roland Morley-Brown
Photos by: Craig Robinson