Advanced skiers from all around the world come to Wanaka every ski season for the thrill, rush and heart pumping exhilaration of free-skiing the Southern Alps and Mount Aspiring National Park in Wanaka, located in the South Island of New Zealand.
What is Heli-Skiing?
Heli-skiing is off-trail; back country, downhill skiing that is accessed by a helicopter, not a ski lift or snow mobile. It represents freedom and exhilarating adventure for skiers and boarders. There are no crowds or lines like at a ski resort, but rather untouched pristine natural snow and long steep runs. Wanaka's Mount Aspiring National Park and the Southern Lakes mountainous terrain offers an assortment of open bowls and valleys to steep chutes and faces.
Powder skis are recommended for maximum enjoyment while free skiing. Clothing requirements are similar to ski resorts: layered clothing suitable for sub-zero temperatures, goggles, hat, ski gloves, and neck warmers.
Why is Heli-Skiing Recommended for Intermediate / Advanced Skiers?
This style of skiing requires skiers to be able to manage all types of terrain such as long descents; natural terrain contours and features, and also be able to get down the hill in all possible snow conditions. Snow conditions can range from powder or corn snow, to the most difficult of snow such as breakable wind crust. Heli-ski operators will source out the best high altitude adventure runs and dry powder snow for you to test your snow skills. Advanced skiers and boarders can get between 6-8 runs as part of a package deal, specifically catered to their skill set level and personal goals.
The major risk and primary safety concern of heli-skiing operators is the danger of avalanches. All reputable heli-ski operations will employ guides and pilots who are professionally trained and well experienced in evaluating snow conditions, snow stability, and risk management. Many operators will equip you with shovels, probes and Avalanche Transceiver and show you how to operate it.
If you're a confident skier and have planned on visiting Wanaka this ski season why not try a heli-ski? A few tourism operators that you may be interested to check out include Backcountry Helicopters NZ and Southern Lakes Heliski. Experience the magic for yourself this winter.