57. Helicopter between luxury lodges in the Southern Alps
Live up luxury in New Zealand with its architectural masterpieces in the wildest of locations and five-star retreats with serious eco credentials: here is No. 57 of our 101 Reasons To Stop Dreaming About New Zealand And Go.
Experience two of the world’s great luxury lodges in the heart of New Zealand’s Southern Alps in sweet succession. Blanket Bay lies on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by some of the country’s most remote and pristine wilderness. Just a 45-minute drive or quick helicopter ride from Queenstown, it offers up an irresistible mix of relaxation, adventure and luxury accommodation. Presented in the style of one of the iconic alpine retreats of the world and wrought in local stone and timber, it is all beamed ceilings, large open-log fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling windows that maximise the awe-inspiring views of shimmering lake and brooding mountains you’ll see at every turn.
Choose to bed down in an intimate room or spacious suite in the main lodge; standalone chalets for maximum space and privacy; the ultra-luxurious and fully serviced Villa; or the stunningly secluded Owner’s Residence. With World Heritage areas Fiordland and Mt Aspiring National Park just minutes away by helicopter, Blanket Bay is an ideal base for exploring everything this spectacular region has to offer: from jet boat to horseback rides to fly-fishing and hiking.
From here, take your chance to be whisked away to Minaret Station Alpine Lodge, set in a remote glacial valley and accessible only by helicopter; the 35-minute scenic transfer can be arranged by either property. Located on Minaret Station, a 20,000-hectare high-country farm on the western shores of Lake Wānaka and bordered by national parks, mountains and the lake itself, this is one of the most secluded and private luxury lodges in the world. And although unmistakeably exclusive, it fosters a relaxed and down-to-earth environment for guests. Its four private chalets are all woody tones and tactile furnishings that create a luxurious but snug cocoon in dramatic surrounds. Each features a king-size bed, en suite, hot tub, deck for optimum stargazing and a writing desk for when inspiration strikes – you’ll find plenty here.
Central to the experience is the Mountain Kitchen, which features separate living areas, wood-burning fires, a library, cellar and first-class dining (despite the lodge’s remote location, the chefs here use fresh local ingredients from Central Otago’s basin; the free-range venison, Te Mana lamb and Angus beef are straight from Minaret Station’s own farm). In terms of activities, choose between a range of unforgettable experiences: from a helicopter adventure taking in New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki/Mt Cook from both the air and the ice; to a day of fishing, exploration and wildlife viewing at remote and isolated Dusky Sound; to a Fiordland heli traverse through this famously remote and untouched part of the country.
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