Central Otago and the Southern Lakes, New Zealand
At a Glance
Minaret Station is only accessible by helicopter - what a great excuse to try this exciting mode of travel if you haven't experienced it before
Seasonal vegetables and beef, lamb and venison raised on the property are cooked to perfection by the executive chef
Camping without compromise - sleep under canvas in luxurious tented suites complete with wall to wall sheepskin carpets and possum fur throws
Visit the wild west coast by helicopter, stopping on a glacier or two en route
Hot tubs on every deck allow you to soak up the vistas in ultimate luxury
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
The climate in New Zealand is incredibly pleasant, with warm and balmy summers and cold crisp winter months with wonderful clear, blue skies. The warmer high-season months of November to April are perfect for outdoor exploration. The colder months of June to August are the best time to ski.
Both North and South Islands are drier on the east coast, rather than on the west, where mountain ranges act as a trap for the moisture-rich winds from the Tasman Sea. It is also worth remembering that it is usually a few degrees cooler on the South Island than the North Island and as New Zealand has a maritime climate, the weather can change rapidly.
Call us on 858 345 1762 to start planning your vacation to Minaret Station or take a look at our itineraries to Central Otago and the Southern Lakes
Minaret Station is New Zealand’s first premium alpine chalets, located in a stunningly picturesque glacial valley in the heart of the Southern Alps. With awe inspiring views and delicious cuisine, this is camping with a difference.
Accessible only by helicopter, Minaret Station offers a level of comfort and style never before available in the New Zealand mountains. Minaret Station draws its name from the distinctive Minaret Peaks, which stand tall on the western shores of Lake Wanaka at over seven thousand feet. Bounded by two large rivers, Mount Aspiring National Park and New Zealand’s fourth largest lake, Minaret Station has a peaceful sense of isolation within its glacially carved valleys, surrounded by stunning mountain peaks, tussock grass, native bush on the hillsides, Wild Deer and Chamois clambering on the surrounding slopes and cheeky Kea birds.
You are hosted under canvas in luxuriously furnished tented chalets, complete with wall to wall sheepskin carpets, king beds, a private deck set with its own hot tub, full en-suite and endless hot showers. On-site facilities include the ‘Mountain Kitchen’ with its well-stocked library, dining room, living area, open fires, first class chef and private mountain guides.
Activities include hiking the many trails, experiencing the life of high country farming, spotting for wild game animals on the adjacent slopes, taking a helicopter to explore the rugged Fiordland West Coast, accessing incredible fly-fishing rivers or simply relaxing with a book on your private deck. Whatever you decide, the experience of staying at Minaret Station will be both moving and inspiring.
Minaret Station has just four luxury tented alpine chalets, each with wall to wall sheepskin carpets, super king size beds with luxurious possom throws, and spacious en-suite bathrooms with heated floors, double vanities, and unlimited hot showers powered by the waterfall above the lodge. Each lodge also enjoys its own private and undisturbed decking with hot tub. An additional child's bed can be added upon request. Guests also have use of the separate mountain kitchen lodge which boasts large fireplaces and seating areas, a library with books and DVDs, Wi-Fi, flat screen TV and a computer, meals are also served in this lodge at a large dining table or guests can receive meals in the privacy of their own alpine chalet.
There are numerous activities available for you to partake in during your stay at Minaret Station and these include hiking, spotting for wild game, helicopter trips to the rugged Fiordland West Coast and fly-fishing.
Jules Maury (Staff)
Wow. Wow and Wow. The Minaret Brothers sound like something out of the New Zealand Wild West and seeing as their father is known as Hurricane Tim you can understand why. They all learned to fly helicopters whilst we were all learning to walk and this is one of the keys to Minaret Station as you can only get there by helicopter - there Alpine Helicopters! I have never trusted nor felt someone truly fly one of these machines with the confidence and years of practice that Nick one of the brothers demonstrated, flying us on that particular day through very bad weather conditions. True trust in a second - you know he just is one with his machine. Swooping into Minaret Station is like nothing else - 5? Immaculate little wooden chalet style lodges dot the landscape with views to the soaring peak and cerulean sky. Each has a generous bedroom / sitting room with views from ceiling to floor windows, a study with a sofa bed and generous bathrooms. To sit on your deck looking out over The Top of The World before one of their legendary dinners with Jeremy is sublime. Flying down to Fjord Land for the day where Matt (another brother!) lands on a rock in the sea, dons a wetsuit, dives for fresh crashfish, skims a glacier on the way back in for ice for the champagne and then lands to grill the crayfish overlooking a view to die for. Now that is WOW. Anything goes here and the Minaret Boys' love of their family property shows in every way possible.
Sarah Rowan (Staff)
This is a totally unique property in the most spectacular setting imaginable. Four chalets perched on the top of a mountain with nothing but the dramatic landscape of the Southern Alps for company. Minaret Station provides a once in a lifetime, magical experience with an incredible feeling of remoteness and exclusivity. It is only accessible by helicopter, which really show-cases the properties breath-taking location, on its own in the middle of this mountain range. It works so brilliantly as it is run with passion by a family of four brothers who live and breath these mountains. They grew up there and know everything about the area and are able to tailor activities to suit every guests needs. From fishing, hunting, heli-skiing and glacier walks, they make you confident that there is no-one else who can offer you a better, more authentic and spontaneous experience. They provide fantastic food from the main lodge, with their in-house chef and friendly staff making it a relaxed and delightfully informal atmosphere.
Katie Kennard (Staff)
Quite simply, the most exciting lodge to reach and stay at. the only way to access this hidden gem is via helicopter. The tents are undergoing a very extravagant revamp and will now be even more luxurious, with hard roofs and large glass windows, making them incredibly comfortable and even more spacious than before. This will be a perfect place to watch the weather if the storms sweep in. Minaret station is fun by four brothers who certainly make the experience unique. Having lived on this rugged land all their lives, they know how to make each trip different. It seems there isn't much they cant organize, from spear fishing to hot tubs on the top of mountains! They are always up for an adventure, whether it be on foot, skis or on the water. It is most definitely worth a visit, its a once in a life time kind of place.
There are no roads here, just gargantuan, brooding mountains. Everything comes in by helicopter, from soap to salt, fuel to possum-skin throws. And so, of course, do you. Flying in entails veering over a precarious abyss at a dizzying 45 angle. But choppers are the only way to get around in the Southern Alps. And suddenly you cant get out of the thing. Youre whizzing up to Dragonfly Peak for a massage; dashing over to Wanaka to pick up, say, a crate of champagne; or dropping in for coffee at Joes Garage in ski party-spot Queenstown. Or youre getting dumped on a completely daunting mountain ridge for some barmy heli-skiing. This new camp maxes out on high drama. Its the first place of its type in New Zealand: a remote, high-country ultra-glamp in a giant U-shaped glacial valley that twists and tumbles its way down to a gleaming, deep lake. Up in the main lodge there is a work-of-art kitchen run by a New York-trained chef who hails from Botswana. A genius with venison! When it is negative five (as they say round here) and a wind is being entertaining (as they also say), youll be snug: each tent has a hot-tub and the minibars are full throttle, stocked with good things like the local Brewski beer. This is, wham, bam, the purest air youll ever breathe. Dont forget your hiking boots.
Some top-end hotels take you to your lodgings in limousines. Others use customized golf carts, lead you through candlelit walkways, or whisk you upstairs in elevators lined with marble and gold. But Minaret Station trumps all the above: you check in via helicopter.
This isnt pure ostentation; rather its the only practical way of getting here. Tucked up in the high country of New Zealands South Island, Mount Aspiring teetering to the rear, Lake Wanaka far down below, Minaret is not so much the middle of nowhere as the furthermost edge of it 3,000 ft up, miles from any road, impossible to reach even on intrepid foot.
By rights it should be a godforsaken place of cold wind, brutal privation and lost hope. Like many things in the southern hemisphere, its the other way round. Understated opulence is the order of the day, the elements kept at bay or harnessed to cosset and comfort, the welcome warm and the views almost laughably epic.
If theres a poetic charm about the name Mount Awful and Mount Horrible both lurk nearby, but the shape of the peaks directly above reminded early settlers of a minarets domed roof the setting completes the seduction. The camp, which opened earlier this year, consists of four tented suites and one central stone lodge, carefully positioned in an immense hanging valley with sheer cliff faces on either side and a greeny-blue glacial river slaloming through the open plain in between.
Waterfalls dive through the beech trees. Snow sparkles on the tops and ridges. The silence is absolute. If it feels as if youre in your own private kingdom, in some ways you are. No one else can get here, points out owner Matt Wallis. Who are you going to bump into?
There is a strong temptation to just sit on your terrace and stare. Some guests do, day after day. Matt, the third of four brothers brought up locally by a father so adventurous he used to get his teenage sons to grab his helicopters controls while he enjoyed a mid-flight snooze, would much rather take you out into the thick of it.
There is a New Zealand archetype known as Southern Man, the sort of rugged, uncomplaining outdoorsman who can carry two sheep under each arm, fell trees with his bare hands and fashion them into furniture while simultaneously fathering a family of eight and sinking hundreds of pints with no obvious ill effect. In that he is almost completely different to a British southern man (such as myself), the sort of pale indoorsman whose last encounter with a lamb involved a bhuna and the local curry house. At Minaret, Matt and his staff offer the opportunity to bridge that gaping divide.
We kick off with some hiking, or tramping as its known here. Our guide is Jerry, retired sheep farmer and cheery embodiment of high country manhood. Jerry looks a bit like David Gower would if he played cricket on top of mountains, using a bat the size of a railway sleeper: curly blond hair turned grey, weather-scoured cheeks, forearms like normal mens thighs.
Jerry doesnt just carry women across rivers. He carries men across rivers, or at least he would if pride didnt make me turn down his kind offer and instead stride solo into the torrent with a breezy wave of an uncalloused urban palm.
To complain of wet feet in these parts would be to bring eternal shame on the family name. The wiser man ignores his squelching socks and concentrates on the paradise ducks flapping by in neat formation, the wild chamois clattering over rockfalls across Estuary Burn and the views unfurling back down the curved valley.
So dry is the air, and so distant from pollution, that your eyesight appears to have been improved by several notches. Everything seems clearer, closer and crisper round the edges, even after your second glass of local Pinot Gris with the sun still to sink behind the ridges up above.
This is tramping with the tramp taken out of it. On our return, canaps are served on the lodges wooden veranda, Jerry ensuring the bottle is kept tipping, a fire inside burning under a vast mantelpiece designed for leaning casually on with one elbow while exchanging tales of outdoor derring-do.
Built from trees and stone harvested from the propertys 65,000 acres, warmed and lit by hydro-electric power drawn from a waterfall out back, the lodge maintains the feel of a Southern Mans homestead while also ramping up the shepherd chic. The floors are polished hardwood, the rugs thick sheepskin from Minarets own flocks. The complimentary bar is encyclopaedic in its range. A large hatch behind the long dining table offers a close-up view of live-in chef Leungo creating dinner from the venison, blue cod and abalone that guests have captured during the day.
Matt and Jerry spin yarns of backwoods legend over the communal dinner. Seeking to match a tale about 14 maverick sheep who escaped captivity to become herbivorous feral outlaws, I offer a rather racy personal favorite involving a drunken wedding guest in Dubai doing something unspeakable to a three-tiered cake. It is hardly the quintessential suppertime story for such luxurious surroundings, but the atmosphere here is earthy rather than prim, convivial rather than sycophantic.
There is not much rush to do anything. Jerry fires up the hot tub on your private veranda (almost certainly without matches or electrical assistance) and leaves you to the moonlit views and star-strewn skies. While you sleep under canvas, there is nothing remotely Boy Scouts about the tents, unless Baden-Powells heirs have made king-size beds, underfloor heating and shower-rooms the size of swimming pools a standard feature.
Awaiting outside in the morning is your helicopter, an airborne escape primed to take you wherever whim directs. Within a 20-minute radius lie wholly contrasting landscapes the rainforests of Fjordland, the Mackenzie Basins high-altitude desert, mighty glaciers and the Southern Lakes.
Olivia Smith (Staff)
Accessible only by helicopter and located in the remote wilderness of the Southern Alps, New Zealand's first luxury tented camp, Minaret Station, is the ultimate in wilderness adventure.
Taking glamping to a whole new level, you sleep in one of just four luxurious tented suites, complete with wall-to-wall sheepskin carpets, king-size beds and a full en-suite bathroom as well as a private deck with its own hot tub offering spectacular views of the glacial valley beyond.
To give the ultimate New Zealand high-country experience, Minaret Stations mountain guides are on hand to provide a taste of high-country farming and offer guided hikes to spot wild deer, chamois and cheeky Kea birds. You can also discover the region further by helicopter, including scenic tours of the rugged West Coast and to seek out remote fly-fishing rivers - an anglers paradise, or simply relax in the hot tub with a glass of Central Otago Methode Traditionelle or locally produced Pinot Noir.
At night, relax in the camp's Mountain Kitchen with its own dining room, library and living area with open fire. Here chef Leungo Lippe, whose previous kitchens include Marco Pierre White's Michelin starred L'Escargot in London, prepares tantalising delicacies at 3000ft.
The Wallace family have really sought out the very best that this area has to offer, to show of a high country station to its best possible advantage. Their combined years of experience in the farming, helicopter and hospitality industries have culminated to create Minaret Station at the heart of their stunning estate.
Amisfield ‘Trust the Chef’
"Trust the Chef" signature menu offers a shared dining experience, with dishes selected by the chef based on fresh produce and ingredients available on the day.
Doubtful Sound Overnight Cruise on Fiordland Navigator
An overnight cruise on the Doubtful Sound is without doubt one of the best ways to experience Fiordland in all its glory. The Fiordland Navigator cruises through the sound to the Tasman sea, stopping to kayak and see birdlife and wildlife on the way.
Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise
The dramatic expanse of Doubtful Sound is best explored by boat, traversing the fiord and surrounded on all side by the steep peaks, native bush and crashing waterfalls.
Fly fishing in the Southern Lakes
New Zealand is renowned as a world class trout fishing destination and unquestionably our guides present a fishing experience sure to install lifelong memories.
Fly Nature Cruise on Milford Sound
New Zealand’s incredible breadth of landscapes and staggering beauty becomes clear as you take to the skies over Lake Wakatipu and the glacial lakes, before cruising across the wildlife rich waters of Milford Sound.
Horse Riding in Glenorchy
Saddle up and roam the stunning scenery on horse back, starting at Glenorchy - a world-famous horse trekking destination where you can wander great wide open spaces and marvel at the region's beauty on a tranquil horse riding adventure.
Jet Boating & Walking in Matukituki Valley
Deep in the Matukituki Valley, this exciting half day jet boating adventure will take you beneath the breath-taking scenery of mountains and glaciers, Lord of the Rings and Hobbit locations, into the World Heritage Mount Aspiring National Park.
Lake Wanaka Cruise and Island Nature Walk
The magical nature reserve of Mou Waho Island is home to the rare flightless Buff Weka, and a picturesque spot to explore the bush, or simply sit back and relax on the beach after a scenic boat cruise across Lake Wanaka to the island.
Milford Sound Extended Helicopter Tour
Exploring Milford Sound is on most people’s bucket-list when they visit New Zealand. This tour will see you experience Milford by helicopter – a truly breath-taking scenic flight along the sound.
Paddle Lake Wanaka - Half Day Tour
Paddle out onto Lake Wanaka, exploring its pristine coastline from a kayak with your guide.
Private Boutique Wine Tour of Central Otago
Tailored exactly to your needs and wishes, this privately guided winery tour is designed especially for the discerning wine lover in mind.
Private Helicopter Charter Fiordland Traverse
The remote and dramatically beautiful landscape of the West Coast, Fiordland and World Heritage Park are best discovered by helicopter, high above the rugged peaks, expansive waterways and pristine wildernesses of the region.
Private Queenstown Full Day Sightseeing
Discover the South Island in a full day’s expedition in luxury SUV. Explore the regions varied attractions on this private tour with experienced guide.
Privately Guided Routeburn Track
The ancient splendour of Mount Aspiring National Park, with its verdant foliage and lush beauty, offers a magical destination for this full day walk to the head of Lake Wakatipu.
Location & directions
Central Otago and the Southern Lakes, New Zealand
Minaret Station is New Zealand’s first luxury tented camp, located at the head of stunningly picturesque glacial valley in the heart of the Southern Alps. Surrounded by the Minaret Peaks, which stand tall on the western shores of Lake Wanaka, on the South Island. Accessible only by helicopter.
How to get there
Scenic helicopter transfers are available from Wanaka airport (approximately 15-minutes each way) or Queenstown.