We flew in to Minaret Station, as everyone does, by helicopter. It was cloudy in the hills, with little showers skulking up the gullies and wisping over the ridge tops.
Leaving the clear skies above Lake Wanaka, the chopper flew low up the gorge, giving us a superb view of the passing mountainsides and wild, scruffy tussocks and grasses. Within minutes we emerged into an open alpine valley, surrounded by craggy peaks and distant snow. The air was almost glistening.
Minaret Station is one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets in terms of wilderness stays. It is isolated, comfortable and invigorating. The chopper landed on its platform, dancing to fit on the tiny pad. We wandered into the main lodge building where a fire was smoking lazily on an almost warm early summers day. Outside the view engulfed us.
Minaret Station is many things – its a luxury lodge, remote wilderness stay, and an excellent base for heli-skiing in winter and heli-hiking in summer. There’s also heli-biking (the high hills are criss-crossed with challenging mountain biking trails) and world-class heli-fishing. Some just come for the day and partake in a delicious Mountain Kitchen lunch – dare we say it – a heli-lunch.
The lodge is off-grid, powered by its own hydro station on a nearby stream. It sits at 830m (3,000ft) elevation and is surrounded by jagged peaks and alpine forest and grasses. Night skies can be stunningly clear, and in winter the lodge can be surrounded by snow. It’s a world-class remote stay location.
For the fisherman, the opportunities are vast. Because all the fishing is by helicopter you can choose to fish throughout the South Westland–Fiordland region in any of the countless streams and fishing rivers. This is true wilderness fishing, for both brown and rainbow trout, in season. There are also chinook (king or Quinnat) salmon in season as well. Because of the exceptionally clear waters in this area the fishing is generally sight and stalk fishing. It is challenging, rewarding and, at times, exasperating.
Accommodation at Minaret Station is in free-standing alpine chalets, connected to the main lodge by boardwalks. Each has a private hot tub on the deck looking out to the mountains, thick woollen rugs, possum fur throws, a large dressing room and complimentary mini-bar. The cuisine is excellent, with great use of local and natural ingredients. Nearby Wanaka is central to the Otago wine growing region, so local wines feature highly.
For more info visit Minaret Station here.
(C) by Sue Farley 2017