Ski The Tasman

Overall Rating

Ski The Tasman

Ski The Tasman4.4/54
Ski The Tasman4.4 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier
Ski The Tasman Glacier

Ski The Tasman

Overall Rating

Ski The Tasman4.4/54
Ski The Tasman4.4 out of 5 based on 4 reviews

Ski the Tasman Glacier Tour

Ski the Tasman is a phenomenal scenic tour of the Tasman Glacier by plane and on skis. This is a must-do activity!

One of the world’s most famous glacier skiing experiences is the Vallée Blanche near Chamonix in France. This off-piste route is renowned for being able to ski past huge seracs (towers of ice), ice caves and spectacular crevasses.

Equally spectacular but relatively unknown is the Tasman Glacier near Mount Cook, the longest glacier in the Southern Hemisphere. And the huge advantage that the Tasman has over Vallée Blanche is that you don’t have to share the glory of the glacier with the crowds, but just a handful of other skiers and a guide. And rather than a gnarly double black diamond walk to get to the glacier, the Tasman glacier is conveniently accessed by a plane.

The Ski the Tasman tours offer a completely unique opportunity to go plane skiing, an activity definitely worthy of bragging rights. A fixed wing aircraft is used to land on the Tasman Glacier for two super long ski runs. The skiing is only one part of the experience with the scenic flights, and the grandeur of the majestic Tasman Glacier being the main event.

Why Ski the Tasman?

Ski the Tasman is guided by Alpine Guides, a reputable company who are veterans of the mountain guiding and heli skiing business at Mt Cook. The region around Aoraki “the cloud piercer” is big mountain territory, so it’s good to be in the hands of experienced professionals.

A Ski the Tasman odyssey should definitely be on your bucket list. The inimitable opportunity to go plane skiing on a glacier with two million years of history is an activity not to be missed. Take a spare battery and memory card for your digital camera, because you’re guaranteed to get very snap happy with all that eye candy.

Where is the Ski the Tasman Tour?

The Tasman Glacier is in the heart of the Southern Alps in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. The plane trips depart from the Mount Cook airport which is 5km (3.1 miles) from the Mt Cook village.

Ski the Tasman is operated by Alpine Guides and their shop and office is located in the Sir Edmund Hilary Alpine Centre at The Hermitage, Mt Cook Village. They provide free return transfers from Mount Cook village to the airport if required.

Mount Cook Village is 55km from the Lake Pukaki turn-off between Christchurch and Queenstown, and about one hour from Lake Tekapo. The Mt Cook village is approximately 3 hours drive north of Queenstown, and 3.5 hours south of Christchurch New Zealand.

Ski Ability and Terrain

The ski tour consists of two runs on the Tasman Glacier amidst the highest peaks of New Zealand. The terrain is not particularly steep and most of it is on wide open slopes, so it’s appropriate for intermediate skiers and above. The terrain is all off-piste with no grooming (except for that performed by Mother Nature) but with fat skis, if you can ski a blue run at a ski resort then you’ll be fine even if the powder is knee deep.

The ski runs are long (8-10km) with up to a thousand metre vertical drop, and the skiing is at a very relaxed pace to allow plenty of time to absorb the wilderness. Part of the experience includes exploration of the Darwin Icefall and the Canyons Land area that feature ice formations and caverns. Due to the degree of traversing required at times, snowboarders are not able to go on the tour. It’s called “Ski the Tasman” for good reason! 

Like any New Zealand skiing, some flexibility in your itinerary may be required. Ski the Tasman is only able to operate in fine weather with good visibility and light to moderate winds. On average they are able to operate a few days per week. And occasionally when the snow conditions are not ideal for the plane to land on the glacier, they use a helicopter instead.

Ski the Tasman Review

The Powderhounds had to be a little patient to get out on the Ski the Tasman trip. We had to wait for the weather gods to smile upon us and for there to be a minimum of three guests. OMG it was oh so worth the wait! The Ski the Tasman tour is all that it’s cracked up to be and so much more!

Pros

  • Ski the Tasman is a mind-blowingly phenomenal day out with gob smacking scenery from the plane. You also get to further appreciate the amazing panoramas whilst out skiing. 
  • This is a great chance to get up close and personal with seracs and ice-caves. 
  • The guides are real mountain men so you know that they’ve got the safety aspects well and truly covered. 
  • The ski terrain is very mellow so it’s appropriate for intermediate skiers, even if they haven’t had any powder experience. This is a great introduction to heli skiing for learner powderhounds. Advanced and expert skiers will also have a great time getting snap happy.
Cons
  • The trip can only operate on fine days with little or no wind, so you may have to keep your itinerary flexible. The upside is that the weather will be superb on the glacier! 
  • A degree of traversing is required so the trip is not open to snowboarders. Skiers can make snowboarders green with envy when they go on this tour!

Snow
The Mt Cook area gets absolutely puked on with snow so you never have to worry about the snow depth on the Tasman Glacier or hitting any rocks! The upper parts of the glacier are at reasonably high elevation so there’s a good chance of skiing on beautiful powder.

We experienced boot deep powder that was really silky. Lower down the snow turned a little crusty but by that stage we weren’t putting too many turns in – just oohing and ahhhing at the mountains.
Terrain
The primary purpose of the Ski the Tasman tour isn’t really the thrill of the skiing, because the vistas are the main event.

The terrain was generally very mellow. There were a few slopes that were akin to easy heli ski runs, but generally the terrain was more like a very gentle blue run or green run. For intermediates with no powder experience, this is a good intro to heli skiing, and the pace of the day is delightfully sedate so you don't need to worry about holding anyone up. Advanced and expert skiers won’t find anything challenging, but they probably won’t care because you don’t need to do steeps when there is scenery like that. It was really fun to get up close to crevasses and ski between some seracs and ice caves.
Scenery
The three scenic flights were definitely enough reason alone to go on this tour. The scenery from the plane was amazing and varied. We saw the Tasman Lake and the icebergs and the moraine covered lower part of the glacier. The plane seemed to go close really to the mountains, ice waterfalls and big crevasses, and we almost felt like we could reach out and touch the Big Cookie! We even got to see the top of the Franz Josef Glacier and the west coast. The plane flights were also fun and the angle with which the plane descended to land provided a bit of a thrill.

Once down on the glacier we got a fantastic appreciation of the enormity of the mountains around Mt Cook. The ice waterfalls and other glacial features were also incredibly impressive, especially when we got up really close to them and touched the ice. You’re guaranteed to get really snap happy on a day out with Ski the Tasman!

Safety

The guides are real mountain men so you know you're in good hands. Our guide provided a safety briefing regarding basic use of an avalanche transceiver, and he also gave safety tips out in the field that were appropriately aligned to the risks.
Guiding

As a local, our guide’s knowledge of the glacier and mountains was great. His instructions in the field were very clear, and he was very professional yet laidback. He was incredibly patient, even when everyone wanted to stop multiple times to take a hundred photos! His amicable personality also added to the enjoyment of the day.
Value
This trip provides excellent value for money, especially for international travellers who can enjoy the favourable currency exchange rates. It’s a fabulous day out and the value for money seems even better when you consider the cost of just doing a ski plane scenic flight of the Mt Cook area. These cost 50-60% of that of the Ski the Tasman tour, and whilst they include a glacier landing, this is only for 10 minutes to throw snowballs at each other. With the Ski the Tasman trip, you not only get the scenic flights but also a really long snow landing whilst on your skis! Getting right up close to the seracs and other ice formations is also incredible, and you get to ski powder with a professional guide, and have a picturesque lunch.
Fun
The day is very relaxed and there’s plenty of time for camaraderie and shenanigans! Rather than being a fun day per se, it’s probably more aptly described as awesome!

Notes Regarding Review of Ski the Tasman

The ratings are from our perspective only. The review is largely based on our experience, but also on discussions with staff, other guests, and information available on their website. Our review has some limitations as it’s not possible to ski every run and in all possible snow and weather conditions. Every guide is somewhat different and we acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be slightly different.

Here is a little teaser from our day with Alpine Guides on the Tasman Glacier.....

Amazing day on the Tasman Glacier

David Ellis01/09/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    N/A
  • Rider Age
    N/A
  • Admin Rating
    4

Amazing day on the Tasman Glacier

David Ellis01/09/2018
Amongst the ceracs on the Tasman
Forget the quad chair!
What an amazing day. This mini adventure has everything. 3 scenic flights taking in amazing views of Mt Cook and the Mackenzie Ranges, 2 super long runs on pristine untracked snow,ice caves, ceracs and lunch at the most scenic lookout in the area. Alpine Guides run a very professional day on the Tasman Glacier and Mt Cook Ski Planes did a fantastic job of getting us on and off the glacier. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a once in a lifetime family experience.

Great 60th Birthday on the Tasman!

Kathy Wood McLaughlin29/09/2014
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    51-70
  • Admin Rating
    4

Great 60th Birthday on the Tasman!

Kathy Wood McLaughlin29/09/2014
My husband Tom and I went out on August 17 with our guide Andy and pilot Roscoe. What an experience!

Other than a bit of crusty snow and the run out, the day was exceptional!!!! Since my husband and I ski at different levels, Ski the Tasman was perfect...a bit of a powder stash....not too steep. The weather was perfect!

It was all about being in a beautiful place and skiing our summer. (We are from Lake Tahoe and work at a ski area) This is a unique experience and definitely good for intermediate skiers that might forego glacier skiing.

The next day, we headed over to Wanaka and took in a great day at Treble Cone based Alpine Guides and Powderhounds recommendations!

See the Tasman

Andrew Henderson31/07/2014
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    N/A
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Admin Rating
    4

See the Tasman

Andrew Henderson31/07/2014
This is an amazing place to be. The skiing part is secondary to the experience. Without skis, you couldn't do it (snowshoes might cut it, but it would be a long day). The pitch is flat and it is hard to get enough speed to do anything more than cursory turns. Although the snow conditions might be tricky from time to time, it would be a doddle for most intermediate skiers.

So. It's not about the skiing. It is about the place. If you have not been to Mt Cook or seen the Tasman, it is hard to describe. A stunning part of a country that doesn't lack in stun. Huge ice caves and a sweeping view of the alps. This is the heart of New Zealand, in many ways. Starting point for some of the country's best mountaineering and in the middle of its tallest mountains.

If you want to partake in a day that is more centred on skiing or boarding the same company has a heliskiing operation running nearby. I am told it is great as well. Either way, great experience.

Phenomenal

POWDERHOUNDS.COM08/09/2012
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Level
    Expert
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Admin Rating
    3

Phenomenal

POWDERHOUNDS.COM08/09/2012
This would have to be the best scenic tour I’ve ever been on! I thought the Milford Sound and the scenic flight over Lake Wakatipu was really good. I also thought the mountainous views out heli skiing with Wilderness Heliski were really impressive, but the Ski the Tasman trip takes the cake! Both the beautiful flights and the scenic tour on skis were phenomenal!

See our full Ski the Tasman review for more information.
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Ski The Tasman - Classic 2 Run Day DETAILS
Price p/p From price based on 2-run day (per person).
Base/invoice currency is inc NZD.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 628

MT COOK SKI PLANE GLACIER SKIING
2 massive runs of 8 - 10 km each!

Location: New Zealand | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Ability: Intermediate to Expert
Price p/p From price based on 2-run day (per person).
Base/invoice currency is inc NZD.
*Displayed price may vary due to currency fluctuations.
USD 628
A Ski the Tasman odyssey should definitely be on your bucket list! The inimitable opportunity to go plane skiing on a glacier with two million years of history is an activity not to be missed. This is without doubt one of the most incredible experiences you will ever have!!! More
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