The ski season is just kicking off in New Zealand, one of the world’s premier snowsports destinations. But we aren’t talking about any old skiing here. We travel to Queenstown and Wanaka to soar to the top of jagged peaks for some daredevil heli-skiing, zoom down the best off-piste terrain, venture into the backcountry for some cat skiing, and end our adrenalin-fuelled days relaxing in luxury at the finest villas, chalets, and lodges in New Zealand. Read on for the best insider tips from our experts at Majordomo and Touch of Spice.
“Offering plenty of sunshine, majestic lakes, snow-capped alpine beauties, and an unrivalled selection of activities and attractions, it comes as no surprise that Queenstown, New Zealand, is as popular a winter destination as it is a summer one,” enthuses Jacqui Spice, founder and owner of Touch of Spice.
“Queenstown is nestled in the Alps close to four ski resorts and fabulous backcountry terrain,” explains Jacqui. “Typically the ski season starts on piste by mid-June with helicopter access to the Southern Alps being mid-July through to October. Touch of Spice can offer exceptional skiing and boarding on exclusive terrain with untracked, virgin snow. On and off-piste, the extensive range of activities has been designed to suit everyone’s ability and desires.
“To help you out further, Touch of Spice can offer professional in-house ski fitting when renting equipment, free chains and GPS with Thrifty car rentals for the month of August, and complimentary value-add recommendations such as spa upgrades, two-for-one offers and complimentary drinks.”
Accessible only by helicopter, this luxury chalet offers unparalleled accommodation and a spectacular base for those seeking the ultimate alpine adventure in an exclusive location—high in the mountains on the edge of Mt Aspiring National Park. It sleeps eight in four bedrooms with four bathrooms.
This is one of the few places in New Zealand with ski-in, ski-out mountain access, which makes for the ultimate ski experience. With striking natural beauty in every direction, your photo-posting on social media will make you the envy of all your friends. From here, you will be heli-ed onto exclusive untracked virgin snow, be taken on 10–12 runs, and then led back into the chalet for morning tea, gourmet lunch, and après-ski drinks.
You can completely tailor the chalet experience to suit your requirements, from a short day trip with a relaxing lunch and a glass of wine on the balcony to multi-night accommodation with action-packed alpine adventures. Whatever you choose, you’ll have a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime experience in this secluded mountain paradise. Whare kea starts from NZD$2,000/night.
Kumanu is a faultless luxury retreat in rural Queenstown, with stunning views across the Wakatipu Basin and beyond. Being at the centre of Queenstown’s three elite ski resorts, you have the opportunity try a field each day. With the perk of huge lawn space, heli-skiing is an obvious choice.
Kumanu sleeps eight in four bedrooms with five bathrooms. Every room provides a feeling of serenity and calm yet draws you in seamlessly to the landscape. From the airy dining room with its ambient open fireplace, to the magnificent chef’s kitchen, which adjoins a cosy lounge. It is well equipped and appointed for winter with its large spa pool, ski storage, Cinema room plus indoor & outdoor fires. Kumanu starts from NZD$2,000/night.
We also spend some time heliskiing, heliboarding and cat skiing with our experts at MajorDomo.
“Queenstown and Wanaka are fabulous locations to base your family and friends for the ultimate heliski experience,’ informs Lisa Hayden, co-owner of MajorDomo. “Our villas are all located within five to 20 minutes from a helicopter pickup zone with some of the villas and lodges able to have helicopter landings on the property.
“Heliskiing or boarding packages range from group to shared excursions with two to five runs, to private charters with ‘unlimited daily vertical’. The operators and guides we deal with are very experienced with the relevant certificates, safety equipment and top-end powder ski and board equipment. The scenery and terrain is as varied as it is magnificent!”
The MajorDomo team highly recommend the experienced pilots and guides from Alpine Helicopters to provide your exclusive heliski and heliboard adventures in the New Zealand Southern Alps. Stay at the stunning Minaret Lodge and your helicopter will pick you up directly outside your chalet after your mountain kitchen breakfast. You will be the first to ski this heliski dream arena every day.
Minaret Station Alpine Lodge
Situated on 50,000 acres of Minaret Alpine Station near Wanaka, the lodge comprises four chalets and a mountain kitchen to provide you with a luxurious escape within an untouched landscape. A private hot tub on the deck your chalet, open fires, library, cosy living areas and first-class dining facilities with stunning meals prepared by gourmet chef complete a thigh-burning day in the backcountry powder bowls.
Find dynamic terrain in and around Minaret Alpine Station and lodge to suite any intermediate or expert skiers and boarders, with pristine snow covering wide open bowls, natural half-pipes and chutes. Beautiful long runs will maximize your ski time and guides are there to direct you on to the best snow in the region.
If Heliskiing is not your thing, then cat skiing could be your calling. Soho Basin is a private ski area offering pristine high-country terrain, world class views and gourmet dining in an atmosphere of relaxed and understated luxury.
After reaching Soho Basin via a 60-minute drive or 10 minute helicopter transfer from Queenstown, you will access 650 acres of skiable terrain from the comfort of a heated cabin, atop a state-of-the-art snowcat. The Soho team will show you the best lines, deepest powder, steepest chutes or gentle slopes – whatever is your thing. With the number of skiers or boarders limited to 24 per day, you will be able to experience this unique area of beauty and serenity within the Southern Alps almost exclusively.
Soho is suitable for early intermediate skiing ability and above, with some great options for the more adventurous skiers or boarders. Your day, your pace, your mountain. When you are ready for a break, you’ll enjoy food and wine on the deck of Soho’s Alpine hut prepared by the chefs of the award-winning Amisfield Bistro. Self drive from Queenstown or MajorDomo can arrange luxury transport with a private driver.
MajorDomo’s villas or partner lodges in Queenstown, Arrowtown or Wanaka would provide the perfect accommodation base for your Soho Basin Private Ski Area experience.