The 20-minute helicopter flight to this backcountry outpost in the Southern Alps takes you over the deep-blue waters of Lake Wanaka, across tussock grasslands and forests of beech, and up to the head of a glacier-carved valley where New Zealand’s first luxury tented lodge sits above a braided alpine stream.
Why you’ll want to go: Accessible only by chopper, the Minaret Station Alpine Lodge is quintessential South Island high country—rugged, hushed, elemental. The lodge, established by the Wallis brothers in 2011 on the highest reaches of their family’s 26,000-hectare sheep and deer station, is an escapist’s dream.
Rooms: There are only four tented suites in total, arranged around a central restaurant and library, all with sheepskin carpets, under-floor heating, and hot tubs on their terraces.
Things you can do: When not soaking up the Tolkienesque splendor of the setting, guests can go on hiking adventures, tour Minaret Station’s farm—home to some 10,000 deer, 7,000 sheep, and 1,000 cattle—picnic on mountaintops, or hop back in the helicopter for fly-fishing outings or way-off-piste skiing, depending on the season.
For more information, visit Minaret Station.