There are two things you need to know about Minaret Station, one of the most luxurious lodges in New Zealand. The first is that it’s in Wanaka, in a spot so remote it’s only accessible by helicopter. The second is that it’s so remote, everything else drops away. Which is exactly why you’re here.
Nestled in a glacial valley next to the World Heritage-listed Mount Aspiring National Park and surrounded by sheer mountains populated with deer, this sustainable retreat has four chalets, hosting a maximum of 12 guests, and one main lodge. It’s a cinch to get here from Australia – a direct flight to Queenstown then a 25-minute chopper ride to the 20,000-hectare farm.
On approach, you’ll be asked if you’d like to be dropped halfway up the mountain so you can trek your way in. Minaret Station offers all the luxuries – fine dining, excellent drinking, a rainwater-filled hot tub on the deck of your chalet – but it revels in the raw beauty of its surroundings. So accept the invitation, breathe in the pristine air and hike through verdant woodland and past streams.
And then, just as the mist rolls over the mountaintops and the raindrops thicken, you’ll turn the corner to find a wooden cottage with a pot-belly stove and a table groaning with food (local cheddar, farm-grown lamb, a wonderfully earthy beetroot salad) and wine (such as Valli pinot noir from Central Otago). And this is just the beginning. Everything about Minaret Station is first class but it’s the heli-experiences that lift this lodge into bucket-list territory. Skiers will want to book a one-day trip to take on untracked powder runs on the slopes above the station. Anglers will head to the Southern Alps to find alpine streams brimming with wild rainbow trout. Or you might want to fly over the Fiordland and simply gaze at nature’s bounty. Cobalt-blue lakes hiding on mountaintops. Ribbons of river that glow silver. Black cliffs with collars of ice. Waterfalls too tall to catch on camera.
And if you’re really lucky, lunch is a lobster plucked from the water, cooked on a barbecue and served in the middle of it all. Everything else drops away.
If you like Minaret Station...
Consider a stay at TREETOPS LODGE & ESTATE
Okay, this Rotorua wilderness escape isn’t exactly a treehouse but it comes close because its 1000 hectares are deep in the North Island’s dense 800-year-old native forests, which are home to roaming deer. Wander the lodge grounds to discover a cascading waterfall and glow-worm grotto or take a 4WD safari to see the local wildlife.
Image credit: Victoria Caffrey