Powderhounds Review

Powderhounds Review

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 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.
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