Minaret Station NZSkiing is a much more accessible sport for all than it once was, providing fun for all ages and abilities. But that also means sharing the snow with many more people. RACHAEL OAKES-ASHE gets a taste in New Zealand of what its like to really ski untouched powder (and come home to the most luxurious accommodation to soothe those aching legs).

THE Wallis family are a big deal in the South Island of New Zealand. The patriarch, Sir Tim Wallis, founded the venison and helicopter industry in New Zealand and his four sons now take the reins at the family business, each with a different portfolio to manage.

Matt Wallis is at the helm for the tourism avenue and grew up on Minaret Station, a 50,000 acre working high country sheep, deer and cattle station deep in the peaks of the Southern Alps a short helicopter ride from Wanaka.

Come winter 2016 Minaret Station together with Alpine Helicopters and Southern Lakes Heli Ski will be launching the country’s first fly in fly out luxury heli ski lodge for private helicopter inspired by the lodges of Canada where heli skiing began.

Think of Minaret as personal access to real New Zealand with private guides that have lived on the surrounding land since birth.

There’s not much of New Zealand and Australia that I haven’t skied in my career so I was thrilled last season to be invited to hit up Minaret Station multi-day heli ski lodge near Wanaka, launching this season.

Why? Because there’s nothing else like this in Australasia and if you can find the time and the money then you’ll get some serious boasting rights, bucket list kudos and social media envy when you check in here.

The concept is simple. A helicopter flies guests from Wanaka airport across the lake and on to Minaret Station deep in the Southern Alps. You bed down in one of four luxury stand alone chalets with private deck and hot tubs and all connected by risen walkways to the main lodge.

These are not ordinary chalets either, each comes with a stunning view down the valley, complimentary mini bar, Nespresso machine, Geneva iPod surround sound, unlimited wifi access, mammoth beds to lose yourself in, a dressing room and ensuite.

Guests are looked after by a lodge manager and the feel is relaxed slipper chic with open fires in the main lodge, a library and wine cellar and a chef designed menu.

But what of the skiing? This is surely the best part. Small group helicopter skiing on private land with terrain for every level of skier.

We were fortunate enough to have Matt Wallis along for our helicopter ride and managed to get three heli ski runs in before breakfast, flying high to a ridge line as the sun rose on the other side.

There is nothing like standing on a mountain peak surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres of more mountain peaks and not another soul around apart from your immediate posse. The silence and freedom experienced once the helicopter takes off and leaves you and your skis and your guide and pristine untouched snow is overwhelming.

Up to five skiers can fit in the chopper and the chalets can sleep up to eight, with two to a chalet. Should all eight wish to heli ski then it is a case of two guides and one helicopter on a circuit.

It is all terribly civilized and remote in a world away from daily life. But it doesn’t come cheap.

A single day without sleepover is NZ$11,150 for five skiers or boarders and includes private helicopter charter from Wanaka or Queenstown, unlimited heli skiing, certified guides, three course gourmet lunch at Minaret Station. That works out to be around NZ$2,230 per person.

Multi-day heli skiing while staying at Minaret is offered by Southern Lakes Heli Ski ( The price? It depends on how many days and how many people so they suggest you ‘enquire within.’ If you do go and have a spare seat, well, you know where to find me. 

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