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“"Bucket list" Heli-skiing with HMH "Gold"”

Harris Mountains Heli-Ski
Ranked #86 of 160 Tours in Queenstown
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Attraction details
Owner description: You may be a first time heli-skier or a max vert regular, it doesn’t matter, Harris Mountains Heli-ski (HMH) will take you into the vast terrains of the Southern Alps at precisely the level which best suits your ability. Harris Mountains Heliski (HMH) has exclusive access to extensive terrain in Queenstown, Wanaka and Mount Cook. Easy rolling terrain for powder first timers, wide open bowls and challenging chutes and steep valleys for the more experienced.
Canberra, Australia
Level Contributor
37 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“"Bucket list" Heli-skiing with HMH "Gold"”
Reviewed September 15, 2012

I went to Wanaka for a ski trip in August 2012 and had an awesome time with HMH. Due, to the rather high freezing level at the time the commercial resorts were not the best option for my skiing, so I went Heli-skiing three times with HMH.

Day 1: Local heli-skiing in the Buchannan ranges, from memory we did Black peak and Fog peak plus one other mountain top.
The day began with a phone call and a pick up time. We drove out to the staging area to meet the helicopter. The guests and guides got together and we did a helicopter and avalanche safety brief. The day works like this. One helicopter looks after three groups. Each group has about 4 or 5 guest plus one guide. The helicopter ferries each group up to the mountain top. So the first run is slow paced, which is good for a warm up run and to get the feel of the snow and enjoy the scenery. As the morning goes by the helicopter works in between the three groups. During the day we never skied the same run, but if the conditions were "sweet as" then we would work a face and then move on. Also, as the sun moves with the day often the guides would select different peaks and faces, so we always had to be choices. About half way through the day we stop somewhere up in the mountains to have lunch. The food, treats drinks and soups were tasty, practically and more than enough. Great to refuel the legs and go back for a few more runs. At the end of the day we returned to the staging area, then get dropped off at our accommodation. On this day the weather was great, sunning and with only light winds. The powder snow was about one day old.

I had selected "Heli 3" as my skill level and on this day we went down mostly blue runs and some red runs (European standard). One of the guests was not confident in the powder snow, so we did not get to go down any black runs. However, our guide Rodger was very patient and encouraging for her.

On this day we did eight runs, then our guide said that a few runs were a bit short so we got to do a 9th run for free. Overall this day was in silver (2nd place).

Day 2: I had put my name down to do the Mt. Cook tour. On this day the cloud and weather was a bit marginal in the morning. The guides took a chance and gave the go ahead for the tour. We started late to let the cloud lift and got in a Cessna 207 and flew from Wanaka to a staging area at the top of Lake Pukaki. The flight was very enjoyable, but we were down low and under the morning cloud.

From the staging area we crossed the lake and river and headed North. During the day we worked 2 powder bowls and skied from different aspects each time. We moved around with the sun to get the best snow during the day. Rodger said that this snow was about 2 days old. It had a small crush up top in the morning. The snow varied from 10 cm of dry powder to some sections of 15-20cm of champagne powder. My group were all very capable skiers/ borders and so we skied some black runs and red runs. Having 10cm of powder is so very forgiving and makes black runs so much fun and easier. On this day the weather was sunny and not a breathe of wind on the ridge line. We had spectacular view all day and view of Mt. Cook. At one drop off point we had 360 degree views, absolutely spectacular. We did 8 runs on this day. Being my second day I had run out of legs and we were running out of time, but if I had fresh legs that day I would have skied as many runs as possible.

For the return flight the cloud had burnt off and lifted and we flew over the ranges and had a spectacular scenic flight over the southern alps back to Wanaka

The day wins gold (1st place). The day was a real "bucket list" day for me. I ended up purchasing the guides film footage and will now have lifelong memories to review. You can view a 1 minute selection of the day from the HMH website. Go to the blog section and look for a video for "22nd August 2012 Mt. Cook."

Day 3:

For this tour I had rest day prior. We went locally and skied the North Harris ranges. I knew that this day would not top my Mt Cook day, but wanted to fit in another day before my holiday ended. The weather was marginal, lots of overcast weather, windy and poor light, so the skiing was less pleasant and more challenging with the low light. There had been now fresh snow for about 5 days. We skied an area near a valley called the "dragons tail." The snow was heavy'ish down low, but we got some great turns in up high. The top stuff was still dry and worthy of being powder snow. On this day we completed 8 runs all in one go, due to weather concerns. Then we had lunch down lower and returned to the staging area. All in all a good day, but it did not top the Mt Cook tour. I'll give this day 4th of 5th place.

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With HMH you get a real feeling that they will go out of the way to find the good snow and good runs. From what I got told HMH also own their own helicopters so they are less inclined to save on flight minutes, unlike other operators. My advise is to be flexible and put your name down for as many days as possible. This is a weather and availability limited activity. You may strike it lucky or not so lucky. Best to go immediately after fresh snow. Even if Treble cone has 15 cm of fresh stuff I would still recommend doing the heli-sking first.

A special thanks to Rodger who was my guide for two out of three days. He is a great communicator and is encouraging and makes you feel safe, but aware of the environment. I can highly recommend him. I'd also like to thank the other guide Chris and the pilots Toby and Dean and one other I cannot remember his name.

I can highly recommend this activity and this operator. Enjoy!

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank AlpineAndyAustralia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TotallyTourism, Front Office Manager at Harris Mountains Heli-Ski, responded to this review, September 17, 2012
Wow Andy, thank you ever so much for your quality review.

You definitely captured every moment during your 3 day powder venture with us.
Sounds like MTC was the “Cream of the Crop”. I must admit we were just as excited as you were to ski Mt Cook on the 22nd August, a magic day indeed.
Thanks again, it was a pleasure to ski with you.
From the Team at HMH
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49 reviews from our community

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Wanaka, New Zealand
Level Contributor
237 reviews
22 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“Absolutely awesome!”
Reviewed September 12, 2012

If you are a keen and good skier or snowboarder, this is will probably be the most special experience you will ever have. This was the first time I had been out with the guides from the Wanaka base and only my second ever experience of heli-skiing.We had dry powder and a windless 'bluebird' day in early September. It was a really busy day for the Wanaka office with maximum numbers of customers, but the staff and guides and heli pilots coped outstandingly - everything ran smoothly.The helicopter rides were really exciting, and we were treated to the most spectacular views over the snowy peaks of the Southen Alps and the valleys between. The pilots are so skilled and I felt totally safe and relaxed at all times. Safety is paramount with Harris Heli and the time spent preparing us for helicopter safety and the use of avalanche locator beacons was thorough .Choose your timing in terms of snow conditions and weather and be truthful when rating your ski or boarding ability - that will ensure you are grouped with others of similar speed and ability. Make sure you are fit and,if you don't own some, you should hire some powder skis. That way you will get maximum enjoyment out of 7 long powder runs. Yes, it's expensive, but it's so worthwhile!

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
Thank Sally A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TotallyTourism, Front Office Manager at Harris Mountains Heli-Ski, responded to this review, September 17, 2012
Thank you Sally for your wonderful feedback.
You covered many aspects of your experience in such a positive way.
It always makes our day when we hear that our guests had such a special day.
I hope we get the pleasure to ski with you again in the future.
Enjoy the rest of you season”

From The Team at HMH
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Coolangatta, Australia
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Best Boarding of my Life”
Reviewed September 11, 2012

Spent 22/08/2012 in the wilderness up in the Harris Mountains with HMH. The snow was fantastic, & our guide & pilot put us on the money every time. I've boarded all over The U.S. both on piste & OB, this day will stay in my memory forever. The crew at HMH are sooo professional, they know the back country like the back of their hand, & your safety is always paromount. In a year that was pretty ordinary for the resorts, we scored big time. The guide even showed us how they do shear tests for avalanches while we waited for the bird to go home. I could go on forever about HMH, all I'll say is, just DO IT, it WILL change your life. Oh yeah, don't over rate yourself on the self assessment form!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank glen s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TotallyTourism, Front Office Manager at Harris Mountains Heli-Ski, responded to this review, September 24, 2012
Thanks Glen it is really great to hear that you had such a good time and took away some amazing memories of your trip. I’m really pleased that your guide was able to explain a little about the shear tests and avalanche safety work we do. We try to be as informative as possible without boring people too much. We encourage any questions people have about snow safety as the more we all know about the alpine environment the better for us all skiing and riding out in the backcountry.
Thanks again The Team at HMH
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Wanaka, New Zealand
Level Contributor
29 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“One of the best days of my life”
Reviewed August 27, 2012

I have been Heliskiing with Harris Mountains Heli-Ski a fair few times. They have terrain ranging from very chilled for the beginner right through to the monster stuff that an extreme ski champion would love. My favourites have to be the runs near the Tyndall Glacier/Headlong Peak near Wanaka/Queenstown or the Ben Ohaus terrain near Mount Cook. Fabulous logistics, safety, service, and world glass guides and world class pilots. A very professional operation with excellent record.

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank arps999
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TotallyTourism, Front Office Manager at Harris Mountains Heli-Ski, responded to this review, September 11, 2012
Hi

Thank you so much for your review. That is exactly what we want to hear and what we aim for! We have a lot of return customers and it is always nice to welcome them back and show them a different part of our terrain every time !

We hope to see you soon and that you are enjoying this lovely late-season dump!!

From The HMH team.
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Saint Paul, Minnesota
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Fantastic Snow, People and Experience”
Reviewed August 22, 2012

With snow not being great in the Queenstown I elected to take my boys 14 and 17 for a day of heli-boarding. We were picked up at our house in Fernhill, taken to the airport to meet some others and given the 90/10 probability of actually going as the weather was a bit cloudy. We all agreed to try and boarded the plane for Glentanner. After the 50 minute flight with views of what my son called "Middle Earth" we arrived at the helicopter pad complete with cafe. A bit of a wait and then the green light! Our guide Roger and his peers Froggy and Slappy were some of the best and most professional I have come across after years of off piste in the US, Canada and Austria. Simply said, the conditions were fantastic, the runs nearly perfect, and the security of experienced guides made it a memorable trip. Although we are fairly expert there was snow for all levels. Be prepared to go to 7 or more runs after the first one as it is phenomenal. We will be back!!!

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Peter K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TotallyTourism, Manager at Harris Mountains Heli-Ski, responded to this review, September 5, 2012
Hi Peter!

Thank you so much for your review and we are so happy to hear that you enjoyed your day out with us.

We work hard to make sure that every client has an experience to remember – from providing amazing customer service to providing fully qualified and experienced guides that will find the best terrain, snow and lines for you, so I am glad that the combination of all our staff members plus fantastic conditions gave you just that!

I hope you enjoy the DVD! Hopefully we will see your family again next time you are in the Southern hemisphere.

Kind regards,

The HMH Team.
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