NZ Heli Skiing VS Elsewhere

Wilderness Heliskiing
The majesty of the mountains around Mt Cook NZ
Wilderness Heliski Mount Cook
Harris Mountains Heliski New Zealand
Heli Skiing NZ
Southern Lakes Heliski Wanaka
Alpine Heliski Queenstown
Alpine Heliski NZ
Alpine Heliski New Zealand
Some nice mellow terrain for intermediates
A lovely lunch in a beautiful setting
Southern Lakes Heliski
Southern Lakes Heliski New Zealand
The helicopter takes off from a sheep farm
Methven Heliski NZ
New Zealand Heli Skiing
Methven Heliski New Zealand
Harris Mountains Heliski - New Zealand
Fresh lines - Harris Mountains Heliski
It's hard not to enjoy a day out heli skiing!

NZ Heli Skiing VS Elsewhere

So how does heli skiing NZ differ to that offered in Canada and other parts of the world?

Heli Skiing NZ Day Packages

Many of the Canada heli skiing operators have expensive multi-day packages that include accommodation in a remote wilderness lodge. Multi-day packages with lodging are also the norm with Alaska heli skiing. With heli skiing NZ they offer day heli skiing (without accommodation) so you only have to commit to one day which is much more affordable, however if your budget allows, you’ll definitely want to do more than one day!

Heli Skiing NZ Terrain

The ski terrain in New Zealand is treeless. This is the same as Alaska heli skiing, South America and Europe heli skiing, but different to Canada and continental USA where there’s usually a combination of alpine and tree skiing. We won’t get into a debate as to whether tree skiing or alpine riding is superior, but potential disadvantages of above timberline heli skiing are the snow quality and the number of no fly days. Canada heli skiing operators can fly most days and find treed terrain on inclement weather days.

NZ heli skiing operations tend to have a lot of inclement weather days when the helicopters are grounded (but possibly not as many as Alaska). NZ is the “land of the long white cloud” after all! Of course snow doesn’t fall from blue skies, so there’s an upside to this!

Cost of Heli Skiing New Zealand

The NZ heli skiing rates are a fraction of what you’d pay in other countries….. it’s a baaa….gain (we can’t but help to make a reference to the abundant sheep in New Zealand!).

Heli skiing (or heli boarding) in NZ is very inexpensive relative to other parts of the world.

To make things even more affordable, the NZ currency exchange is generally incredibly favourable for most international travellers. Regardless, the money's well spent. The embellished stories will last for years down at the local pub and so will the memories. Your investment will also get you lunch, flown in by helicopter of course!

New Zealand Snow Quality and Quantity

You’ll notice that our heli skiing ratings rank NZ operators lower for the powder. This is related to both the quality and quantity of the powder in New Zealand.

The New Zealand heli skiing companies don’t typically quote their statistics on their average snowfall per season. One theory for this is that they don’t get as much snowfall as their overseas counterparts!

It would be rare to score a day when you need your snorkel to go heli skiing in NZ, but more typically the powder is somewhere between ankle and knee deep.

New Zealand has a maritime snowpack so the powder generally isn’t super dry and there are no trees to protect the snow from the sun and wind. Snow conditions in the New Zealand backcountry can be very hit or miss. The powder is sometimes divine, but the snow quality can be very variable and include crud, crust, ice-cream or spring corn. New Zealand potentially has the best spring corn in the world – it’s a lot of fun to ride!

On the plus side, the operators are very honest about the snow conditions, so you can decide when to go out.

Ability Level

A lot of heli skiing companies around the world can cater for first time powder skiers and strong intermediate riders, but New Zealand does this particularly well. The Queenstown and Wanaka operators (Alpine Heliski, Southern Lakes Heliski, Harris Mountains Heliski) have specific packages for strong intermediates where riders of similar abilities are grouped together.

Of course the New Zealand heli skiing operators can also cater very well to experienced skiers and snowboarders.

And all NZ heli skiing involves small guest to guide ratios, so there’s a higher likelihood of appropriate ability groupings.

To see how New Zealand heli skiing compares to North America you can also see the Powderhounds heli skiing ratings which are broken down into aspects such as the powder, terrain for different ability levels, safety, guiding, and value.