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On Monday we started the New Zealand Heli-skiing season with powder skiing and boarding in the North Harris Mountains. After the avalanche beacon safety briefing we loaded into the helicopter for our flight into the North Harris Mountains. From the helicopter
Even as a guide it's always exciting stepping out of the helicopter on the summit of a mountain knowing that you are about to ski down from the drop off point. The highest point we ski from today was the summit of Craigroysten. From the helicopter drop off point the terrain drops steeply away behind us towards the large glaciers and mountains of the Mt Aspiring National park. In front of us is an untouched powder field, perfect skiing and no tracks in front of us.
Despite the slow start to winter there are great conditions at present in the high alpine terrain with our helicopters able to reach the high altitude powder fields of the North Harris Mountains. The recent storms bringing snow to low levels in Queenstown have deposited 20cm of snow with no wind affect in our heli-skiing terrain with good snow coverage from 2300m down to around 1600m. We have enjoyed great powder skiing and boarding and perfect weather since the storm has cleared.
The heli-skiing in New Zealand is world class. I have worked as a mountain and ski guide in BC Canada, Japan, the Himalayas, and Alaksa as well as many other areas throughout the world and I am very fond of our own mountains and the skiing that they provide. Something that makes New Zealand unique is that all of our heli-skiing terrain is in the high alpine with no tree skiing. Everyone that I have ever skied with in the New Zealand has always been impressed not only by the skiing but also by the incredible scenery provided by the mountains that set the stage for heli-skiing in NZ.
Another way to enjoy the skiing and boarding is backcountry skiing and ski touring, or split boarding if you are a snow boarder. A good option is to be dropped by helicopter at the top of a heli-sking run. After skiing the run you then skin, or climb with touring and split boarding gear to another summit for another run. The goal is to ski as much powder as possible. Usually three or four runs is possible depending on your fitness levels. This is a great combination of getting some exercise in the mountains and then enjoying the rewards at the top with a ski run. If you are a good skier or boarder it is possible to ski from the summit of some of New Zealand's 3000m peaks. It is possible to do multi-day trips based from a high mountain hut or a tent camp and then fly out at the end of the trip.
Check out the options for heli-skiing and helicopter accessed ski touring in the high mountains in Queenstown and Mt Cook at queenstownmountainholidays.com