For some, the great outdoors means a group outing at a campsite, "roughing it" in a marquee-type structure that comes complete with palatial interior, wireless internet and Sky television.

Others would rather walk barefoot into the wilderness with nothing but a pocket-knife, living off berries and raw possum guts and whistling tunefully at the blissful solitude.

The Remarkables Wilderness Adventure, which takes in the Wakatipu Basin near Queenstown, combines the best of these worlds - luxury in the outdoors in the presence of no one else.

Its surroundings could be a scene from a number of nature spots across the country - towering mountains and native forest, trout-filled rivers that sprawl across the high-country terrain. But this is not the Routeburn, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, or any other track on which you have to embark in the middle of a snow-storm to avoid the masses. There are no lines of trampers polluting the hills, no chatter of tourists, no rubbish left over by the last group to shoot through.

These are the mountains and valleys of the Walter Peak High Country station, where the bustling sounds of Queenstown are drowned out by the stretch of Lake Wakatipu and the defiant Cecil Peak that stand between them. The only whining to shatter the peace here would come from yours truly. The phrase "How's the serenity?" comes to mind.

There are two factors that make this possible: private land and a helicopter. Brian Savage and Colleen Ryan, hosts of the Remarkables Lodge, have negotiated a deal with the owners of the station and private helicopter companies to explore the high country with the help of a local guide.

The lodge's backyard, at the base of the Remarkables mountain range, is the perfect spot for a makeshift helicopter pad. On a gloriously clear morning, we flew over the blue tranquillity of the lake and banked towards the mountains - their tips dusted in snow - into the heart of the 160,000ha high country station.

We set down outside the Cascade Hut, where lodge worker Abi greeted us with a warm smile and an equally warm cup of tea.

The hut, 700m above sea level, features everything but a team of exotic dancers to cater to your needs - solar power, a dozen single bunks, a wood burner and gas stove, a mezzanine, and a small library with books on the local flora and fauna and the station's history. A west-facing deck outside beckons as the afternoon sun fades.

For Aucklanders, there is a shower with hot water, a flushing toilet and plans for a jacuzzi.

The guide, local bushman Lloyd Brown, is a real-life Speights-guzzling Southern Man, whose list of pastimes includes hunting, trekking and living in the wilderness for months.

Oddly, however, his rugged outdoor attire includes denim shorts. Short shorts. The kind you'd expect on a size 00 model on a catwalk in Paris. But try and tell him he looks girly; Brown is also an ex-SAS soldier who could probably kill you using a secret death grip.

Brown, with his trusty dog Toot, was charged with our safety as we left the lodge and headed along a dirt road, then into the hills. We strolled for two hours in the mid-morning sun through paddocks, across the Lochy River - the cool alpine waters cling to your skin in an icy grip - and up through beech forest, pausing occasionally so Brown could show off his manliness by pointing out stag tracks in the mud.

Rising from the treeline, we followed a track alongside Lake Nigel up to its smaller brother, Lake Ned, for a picnic and a spot of fly-fishing.

Overcoming a lame technique and a complete lack of experience, I managed to catch a rainbow trout, which gasped and gaped with sadness until we released it back into the lake. After a refreshing swim, I ventured up one of the steep, scree-filled slopes to, among other things, test my body's resistance to Spaniard Grass. Also known as spear-grass, this specimen of native flora could well be renamed "flesh-cutting grass".

The gorgeous hillsides are dotted with the buggers, which are almost impossible to avoid as you climb the steep slopes. My resistance, I concluded, was poor.

We trudged back to the hut to bask in the afternoon sun before partaking in a hot shower and a three-course dinner, prepared at the lodge by award-winning chef Demian Che Dunlop and flown over to the hut.

A selection of wines and beers was also on offer. The royal treatment. I felt a tiny pinch of guilt in putting my feet up and being waited on, though, in my defence, I tried to do the dishes only to be shunted out of the way.

Admittedly, I didn't try very hard.

The following morning - after a cooked breakfast - we set off on a 17km trek up a well-worn dirt road, dwarfed by steep peaks and weaving its way up to the Afton Saddle.

The only threats to our well-being were a gusty wind and a feral cat the size of a small car, which stared down Toot and forced him to take a deep gulp and cower in retreat.

At the saddle, the isolation of the unique alpine setting gave way to a view of rolling peaks stretching out to the warm blue of Lake Wakatipu.

From there it was a sharp descent leading to more gentle terrain and eventually into native forest to our pick-up point, the Honeymoon Hut, from where we choppered back to the lodge - just as the rain started getting horizontal.

The theme of luxury continued in my lodge room with a soak in a beautifully restored claw-foot bath.

The trip, I thought as essential oils massaged my skin, could well be dubbed "Adventure for Softies" - it's hardly a test of physical strength or a way to refine hunter-gatherer skills.

But with my sense of judgment corrupted by hot-tub goodness, I felt no shame in getting in touch with my softer side.

Further information: To find out more about Remarkables Wilderness Adventures see For general information about the Queenstown region see

Derek Cheng was a guest of Air New Zealand and Destination Queenstown.