6 Essential Things You Need To Heliski In New Zealand

November 16, 2017

Life is simple in the mountains but you need to be prepared!

Life is simple in the mountains but you need to be prepared!

Looking to book a heliski in New Zealand for next year and wondering what you need on the day? Then check out our 6 essential must-haves for a day in the mountains.

Powder Skis Or Board

The right equipment will make your day more enjoyable and allow your progression from being on-piste to backcountry snow much easier. We strongly recommend powder skis to be at least 95mm underfoot with a bit of rocker. Snowboards should be set in a standard stance, 0 at the back, 15 at the front. If the powder is deep and you don’t have rocker set your bindings back one to make it easier on your legs.

Southern Lakes Heliski guides use Rossignol skis and snowboards. We have found in New Zealand alpine conditions that Rossignol works.  The skis and boards are designed to be stable on varied terrain and different snow conditions. In NZ, we experience maritime (coastal) snow which creates a denser and variable snowpack. The advantage of maritime snow is it makes it much easier for intermediates to get a feel for untouched snow as they don’t have to struggle as much or run the risk of losing their equipment.

Head Guide  Tarn Pilkington  enjoying some spring heliskiing on his  Rossignol  skis.

Head Guide Tarn Pilkington enjoying some spring heliskiing on his Rossignol skis.

The Right Clothing

The differences between heliskiing and skiing on-piste is we have a helicopter, lots of untouched snow and can often get to higher elevations. This can sometimes mean that temperatures are cooler, so the only addition to normal skiing attire (outerwear, goggles, beanies, and helmets) would be to wear an extra layer. We highly suggest looking at Merino as its light to carry, doesn’t smell and is warm. Merino sheep live best at high altitudes in New Zealand, so it makes sense to wear what is on their backs, and from experience, we know it works. A great brand to check out is Mons Royale.

Chief  Guide James Hamilton  loading the helicopter for a day heliskiing in the New Zealand mountains. Photo:  Ashley Barker

Chief Guide James Hamilton loading the helicopter for a day heliskiing in the New Zealand mountains. Photo: Ashley Barker

Please Pack Light

We encourage no bags in the helicopter, but instead to use the pockets in your jacket. We supply lunch and drinks so the only things you really need to carry is a small snack, a camera, and some sunscreen. Space is very limited in a helicopter so bags need to be taken off everytime you enter a helicopter as they could also pose a danger to the pilot.

It’s liberating without the crowds and the pressure. Photo:  Liz Mathieson

It’s liberating without the crowds and the pressure. Photo: Liz Mathieson

Make Sure You Bring A Camera

New Zealand, especially the Otago region is one of the most stunning places in the world. A photo can allow you to relive a memory, and who wouldn’t want to remember a heliski day. Our guides do offer a photo service but having your own camera and sharing it with your group can capture some unforgettable moments. Flying in a helicopter offers quite a different perspective, showcasing just how grand our mighty Southern Alps, abundant lakes, and forests are.

Getting that pose perfect for the camera

Getting that pose perfect for the camera

Bring A Good Attitude

A good attitude to life, in general, is better for your health and wellbeing. “Life is 10% how you make it and 90% how you take it.”

A first-time heli-ski experience can be intimidating, but we aim to make it as easy and enjoyable as possible. All you have to do is trust in our professional guides and their extensive local mountain knowledge.  Anyone from intermediate and up can heliski, we just take you to the appropriate terrain and guide you through it. If you want some reassurance on just how magic a day is heli-skiing in NZ then check out our TripAdvisor page.

Guides  at 2017 pre-season training prepping for winter

Guides at 2017 pre-season training prepping for winter

Safety Equipment

Being in the mountains always carries elements of risk but this is mitigated by carrying the right equipment and having the right training.

We supply avalanche transceivers and give you instruction on its use and some scenarios. We have one guide and two client bags within each group of 4-5 that have a probe and shovel in them. The helicopter is also equipped with a transceiver and all our pilots and guides have extensive experience in mountain and avalanche safety. Each season we have a guide training which is a combination of theory and practical so that we are up to date on the latest heliski procedures.

As well as ensuring you have the right equipment we also have professional snow safety experts who constantly analyse the snowpack. They know the right aspects and angles that are best to safely ski and board on thus reducing risk.