Luxury NZ ski experiences: Take your skiing holiday to the next level

NZ Herald
By Rachael Oakes-Ash

Live the alpine high life this winter with New Zealand’s coolest ski and snowboard experiences in the Southern Alps, designed for the discerning who like their snow sports served up with a side of style.

Whare Kea Chalet

You don't get more remote than Whare Kea Chalet, a 15-minute helicopter ride from Wānaka and a world away from civilisation, perched on the edge of Mt Aspiring National Park. You and five of your friends can bed down in this mountaintop chalet with two staff to create an experience like no other as you dine on fresh fare and sleep soundly breathing mountain air at 1750m altitude.

Come morning and a hearty breakfast, the chopper will take you to exclusive heli-ski runs where you ski pristine powder. Spend après time sipping on house-made cocktails while staring out the picture-frame windows with views to Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring.

From NZ$4340 for two people, per night including heli transfers, three-course dinner and breakfast. Heli-skiing additional.

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Soho Basin redefined

What do you get when you combine one of New Zealand's most celebrated wineries and dining experiences with more than 1000 acres of private untouched snow terrain? Soho Basin cat skiing near Queenstown.

This private charter experience allows you and 9 friends to board a private heated cat that transports you to a new ski run every time. Be guided by experts as you ski down rolling basins, open bowls and powder chutes.

Come lunchtime you'll be sitting on the deck of a purpose-built hut for a three-course meal with matching wines from the gourmand crew at Amisfield Winery. Spend the afternoon doing more of the skiing same or just keep supping on New Zealand's finest.

$15,000 for up to a maximum of 10 people includes transport, cat skiing, lunch, wines, après ski.

Whare Kea Chalet offeres guided heli-skiing with views of the South Island's 'Matterhorn', Mt Aspiring. Photo / Supplied
Whare Kea Chalet offeres guided heli-skiing with views of the South Island's 'Matterhorn', Mt Aspiring. Photo / Supplied

Heli Ski at Minaret Station

There is luxury and then there is Minaret Station, a heli-accessed lodge on a 50,000-acre working station, with private chalets found deep in a glacial valley near Wānaka. Fly in and bed down in one of four luxe chalets surrounded by wilderness as far as the eye can see with breathtaking starlit skies.

Hang out in the main lodge with living areas, wood fires, library, cellar and dining room where Minaret Station's own free-range venison, Te Mana lamb and Angus Beef take pride of place. Chefs utilise the best of the region including Fiordland seafood and Otago wines.

With a private heli charter, you can even make some turns at sunrise and return for breakfast before a day of more skiing and even a sojourn to the West Coast to pick up a crayfish for dinner.

From NZ$2950 per chalet. Heli-ski from $35,550 per charter of four guests.

The Dacha Residence, Wānaka

Heading to Treble Cone and Cardrona for some skiing? Then you'll be needing some fancy digs and you won't get fancier than The Dacha ("home" in Russian).

This private Wānaka-based residence is a shrine to lakeside design and boasts jaw-dropping lake vistas and mountain silhouettes. Expect schist stonework, glass walls, soaring ceilings, pool, hot tub and even a private guest apartment, The Banya, tucked in the garden with more of those heart-stopping views.

The concierge team at Release NZ can organise a private chef, driver, ski guides and whatever your winter heart so desires.

From NZ$8000 per night, minimum 3-night stay.

Board a private heated cat to fresh snow at Soho Basin. Photo / Supplied
Board a private heated cat to fresh snow at Soho Basin. Photo / Supplied

Cardrona and Treble Cone

And the luxury doesn't stop while you're on the mountains – both Cardrona and Treble Cone offer some fabulous exclusive experiences to make sure your holiday continues in the manner to which you've become accustomed.

Book private lessons for fully customisable tours, whether you're looking for steeps and drops, local's only spot guides or technical masterclasses. You can also pick your instructor's brains for great local tips for things to do off-mountain.

Both mountains offer retail stores stocking high-end snow gear from brands such as The North Face, Moon Boot, Eivy, Mons Royale, icebreaker, Burton and more.

Once you've had your fill on the slopes, head to the Mezz at Cardrona for a la carte dining with locally sourced ingredients, or to Vista Bar at the top of the McDougall's Chondola for a boozy hot chocolate or a Mumm champagne. At Treble Cone, Altitude at the top of the Home Basin offers priceless views of the Matukituki Valley and Lake Wānaka.;

The Peak Club, Coronet Peak

Avoid the masses and experience the exclusive Peak Club when skiing and snowboarding at Coronet Peak near Queenstown. With a Peak Club day pass, you'll receive priority parking, access to the private members' lounge, complimentary beverages and lunch, plus priority lift access. Day pass numbers are available throughout the season but numbers are limited (there is a waitlist for Season Peak Club membership).

From NZ$450 per day pass

Ski the Tasman by Alpine Guides

One of the most unique ski experiences on offer, Ski the Tasman takes skiers only by helicopter on to the Tasman Glacier for a day of glacial skiing with a guide. Guests take off from Mt Cook for a scenic flight over azure lakes and mountain peaks and a glacier landing. The skiing is intermediate level with two long runs of around 10km each, plus there's time to explore some ice caves and enjoy a relaxing lunch before a glacial second take-off and landing for more skiing. Bed down in Mt Cook village or take a fixed-wing scenic plane flight from Queenstown or Wanaka for a day's adventure.

From $1,495pp (from NZ$1,575 from Queenstown)

Pacific Jemm

Start and end your Queenstown ski day on a private yacht on Lake Wakatipu. The team behind Eichardt's premium downtown private hotel and residence experience also offer the keys to the Pacific Jemm, an 80-foot yacht to cruise the lake waters. With four stylish cabins, four-and-a-half bathrooms, a living and dining area, a private chef and crew and a secluded cove to anchor in, the Pacific Jemm offers unique accommodation for the intrepid luxe traveller.

From NZ$1800 per night.

Private Ski Rental

It’s the little things that count and there’s nothing better than having your premium gear fitted for you in the comfort of your own accommodation in Queenstown and Wānaka. The team at Snopro come to you with ski and snowboard gear from boots to boards, accessories and outerwear should you need it. The qualified techs will boot fit for you in your lounge and pick them up again at the end of your stay. No fighting with queues or lines or battling for service.

This story first appeared in the Herald in July 2021. For more visit