Heli Skiing New Zealand
New Zealand heli skiing is an essential experience for any powder hound on a NZ ski holiday
. If you are at least a strong intermediate skier, you must add heli skiing to your itinerary. Sure it will cost a lot more than a lift ticket at one of the New Zealand ski resorts but how can you compare skiing groomers, slush, ice or bumps with heli ski joy!? It's a wise investment. The helicopter ride up in the spectacular Southern Alps alone is worth the money, and then you also get to ski or board down the virgin snow. Heli skiing in New Zealand is sweet as....!
New Zealand Heli Skiing Terrain and Snow
Getting lifted to the top of a mountain by helicopter in a matter of minutes is the ultimate ski lift. New Zealand has some fantastic snow covered mountains and many of them are only accessible by helicopter. Most New Zealand heliskiing operators have hundreds of thousands of hectares of ski terrain and hundreds of runs. The alpine (treeless) terrain is incredibly diverse from easy rolling terrain for powder first timers to open steep bowls, gnarly chutes, and features to leap off.
One of the benefits of heli skiing
(or heli boarding) in New Zealand is that you don’t have to be a hard-core extreme skier or snowboarder that’s into jumping out of helicopters or leaping off cliffs. Mere mortals (ie strong intermediates) can give it a go as well, and some NZ heliski operators have specific packages for intermediates versus advanced and expert riders.
With so much terrain to choose from, even weeks after a snow fall you can get fresh-tracks in pristine powder snow. The altitude is high and generally above the ‘freezing line’, so the snow generally stays in pretty good shape.
Flying in helicopters is obviously contingent upon the weather. The choppers might be grounded due to poor visibility, storms or strong winds, and this occurs two to three days a week on average. Needless to say, in order to go heli skiing in NZ, you’ll need to keep a flexible itinerary.
Cost of New Zealand Heli Skiing
A big advantage of heli skiing New Zealand is that you don’t have to be super-rich. Relative to heli skiing Canada
, Chile heli skiing
or heliskiing USA
, a NZ heli ski package is relatively inexpensive. The NZ currency exchange rate is incredibly favourable for most international visitors, making it even more financially attractive. As the Kiwis would say, it is "cheap as chips"!
And at Helipark
or Mt Hutt Helicopters
you can start with one heliski run, and if you become hooked (which is incredibly likely) you can pay for additional runs.
Heli Ski New Zealand Operators
The NZ heli ski operators are located on the South Island of New Zealand and based in the towns of Methven, Wanaka, Queenstown and Mt Cook. Here are the main New Zealand heliskiing companies.
Southern Lakes Heliski
is a large outfit based in Queenstown
with access to a massive 8,500 square kilometres (more than 3000 times the size of Coronet Peak ski resort!). In addition to a range of day heli skiing options, they also offer some interesting week long packages.
Harris Mountains Heliski
is also a big company, offering fabulous heli skiing from Queenstown
and the Mt Cook
area. HMH is a great all-rounder so whether you’re an intermediate, advanced rider or super expert, you can’t go wrong.
is more of a boutique operation with the motto of “powder personalized”! This heli ski Queenstown based outfit provides a range of day packages as well unguided free ride heli days. The latter are run on specific days each season, and because the rides are charged per helicopter drop, it’s a very inexpensive way to get a little taste of heli skiing.
is based at Mount Cook
and operates within the boundaries of the Mt Cook World Heritage area amongst the giant mountains of New Zealand that receive big dumps of snow. The high elevation and extensive glaciations generally result in superior snow quality and longer runs.
As the name suggests, Methven Heliski
is based in Methven
which is about an hour from Christchurch International Airport. The 5 run package and steep terrain make this New Zealand heliski outfit very well suited to advanced and expert riders.
Ski the Tasman
is a pseudo heli skiing New Zealand experience on the striking Tasman Glacier near Mt Cook. Sometimes a helicopter is used to get up to the glacier (if there’s a little wind), but generally the access is via a fixed wing plane which is rather unique. Ski the Tasman is a mind-blowingly phenomenal day that offers gob smacking eye candy. The terrain is very mellow so it’s suitable for intermediate skiers (not snowboarders).
More Reasons to Heli Ski New Zealand
Considering that NZ has the highest number of helicopters per capita, it seems criminal not to go heli skiing or heli boarding in New Zealand. Don't be sheepish, go heli skiing and you'll get a baa...gain!
New Zealand Heli Skiing Operators
||Helipark Mt Potts
The ski resort without any lifts; just a helicopter and a handful of powder hound friends. Pay as you go. You can't miss this whilst in Methven / Mt Hutt.
||Harris Mountains Heliski
Make this the best day of your life! Magnificent scenery and a spectacular adventure (not to mention the skiing). Operates from Wanaka & Queenstown.
||Wilderness Heli Ski
Heli ski Mt Cook amongst New Zealand's largest mountains in the heart of the great Southern Alps. Transfer packages also available from Queenstown.
||Alpine Heli Ski
The personalised heli ski company; Alpine Heli work with small groups. 3 - 8 run day tours + charter. Operates from Queenstown.
Fixed Wing Ski Tour
||Southern Lakes Heliski
Based in Queenstown offering packages from only 2 runs. This is ideal for first time heli skiers and intermediates to check out what all the fuss is about.
||Ski The Tasman
This is an adventure for intermediate and above skiers & boarders. You will ski through ice caves, seracs (ice towers) and will experience the most amazing scenery you have seen anywhere..