I thought that once up on the mountain I'd be able to narrow my focus and squint a little and maybe be able to imagine myself in Antarctica. Unfortunately, wherever I looked there was always some bit of greenery, or if not greenery, some building, road or ski lift. But it didn't matter, because there was snow, and some of it was blowing into my face in a very cold wind, and that seemed pretty authentic. Also Robin brought along a blow up sled, and that was very fun!
After Robin and I took a few hilarious uncontrolled slides down the slope, she wondered how many kids could fit on the sled. Playing on the edge of the sledding slope was a group of children from Ngaruawahia Primary School who didn't have sleds or skis or snowboards. Watching them play on Robin's sled was even more fun that sledding ourselves. After a couple of hours in the snow, in conditions that could be generously described as stormy, we retreated back down to the Chateau for port and hot chocolate by the open fire, eavesdropping on rich people's complaints about the poor skiing conditions.
The best thing about our little break was the hot pools at the Oasis in Tokaanu. The Oasis is perfectly adequate budget accomodation that I've been visiting for at least a dozen years. Guests get unlimited use of the on-site hot mineral pools and there's nothing like a hot stinky soak to ensure a very good night's sleep. The volcanic mountains and the hot pools are all reminders that the earth's crust is very thin here, and the landscape rather volatile.
On the way home we visited the Craters of the Moon, a geothermal feature consisting mainly of steaming holes in the ground.