Enjoy the ultimate New Zealand high-country experience at an elevation of 914 meters in Lord of the Rings territory.
At the recently opened Minaret Station, intrepid travelers can enjoy the ultimate New Zealand high-country experience at the country’s first luxury tented lodge. Located deep in the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps above beautiful Lake Wanaka, Minaret Station is accessible only by helicopter at an elevation of 914 meters in classic Lord of the Rings territory. The 20,000-hectare sheep, cattle and deer property has been a family run business since 1995. The patriarch of this unique establishment is Sir Tim Wallis, who pioneered deer harvesting and live deer capture by helicopter in New Zealand and was knighted for it in 1994. Together with his wife, Prue, he raised four sons who all play a role in the family business: Toby runs Alpine Helicopters, Jonathan is the general manager of the pastoral side of Minaret Station, Matt is the director of tourism for the station and the brains behind the new tented accommodation, while youngest son, Nick, takes care of the agricultural side of the helicopter business.
Guests are hosted under canvas in luxuriously furnished tented suites complete with wall to wall sheepskin carpet, king beds, a private deck with a hot tub, full en-suite and plenty of hot showers. The main ‘Mountain Kitchen’ area provides guests with delicious meals from a gourmet chef either in the dining room or on the terrace, both with spectacular views. There is also a well-stocked library and comfortable living area with open fires, as well as on-site private guides. So if you like being dropped on peaks by your own private chopper with virgin snowfields to ski down, fly-fishing where your lure is the only non-insect attracting fish or picnicking by a stream in the wilderness, then this is the spot for you.
Tricia Welsh takes a scenic tour of Minaret Station courtesy of Mercedes-Benz. Click here to read the full story.
Tented suites for two at Minaret Station are $NZ3500 (approx $US2900) a night, with a minimum two-night stay. This includes helicopter transfers from Wanaka Airport, all meals, drinks and on-site activities, from gentle valley walks to advanced alpine trekking and the services of a camp guide. Helicopters provide transport for optional heli-fishing, hunting, fly-fishing, mountain picnics or sightseeing.
Jetstar, Air New Zealand, Qantas and Pacific Blue have non-stop flights to Queenstown, some from Sydney and some from Melbourne. On days where there are no non-stop flights you have to fly via Christchurch. Pacific Blue one-way fares from Sydney cost from $US300, while Jetstar has a one-way fare from Melbourne for $US250.
Lake Wanaka is one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets; more picturesque than nearby Queenstown and less crowded. For more information, visit: lakewanaka.co.nz.