Frequently Asked Questions
How “good” do I have to be to go heliskiing?
The good news is you don’t need powder experience; you only need to be of an intermediate level and above. If you can confidently link your turns on a blue run, then you can heliski. Fill out our ability guide
I am concerned that I will hold up the group. What should I do?
This is your day and we do our best to make sure each and every person enjoys it. We group people together with others of similar ability, and your guide is there to keep you safe and to take you to terrain that is comfortable for you to ski or board. Communicate with your guide and they will help you achieve what you need to from the day.
I’m an expert. Will I be grouped with intermediates?
We work hard to create groups of skiers and boarders who are of similar ability, however very occasionally, we find ourselves with a group of mixed abilities. The amazing thing about NZ terrain is we have such variation within one back country area, so talk to your guide and he will show you the more advanced lines open to you. Your perfect run may be right next to an open slope more suited to an intermediate.
My partner is a different ability level. How can we be together?
We find people like to be together with their friends and family so we try and offer this as much as possible. There is terrain for everyone within the one run so we can make it work most of the time. It’s always way more fun heliskiing with friends!
How long are the runs and how long do they take to ski/board?
The runs vary depending on the terrain area. They can be anywhere from 600-1000m vert. Depending on people’s abilities, it can take 15 minutes to get down or an hour. We generally heliski the best snow between 1200m and 2585m.
Where do you ski?
We can heliski anywhere from Queenstown to Wanaka to Kingston, Glenorchy, Makarora and over to Ohau. Our terrain spans over 17 mountain ranges so we go to where the best snow and weather conditions are on the day, which is determined by our snow safety expert. Check out our terrain map to see where we can go!
What about avalanche danger?
Because we are working with Mother Nature in conditions that are always changing, there is potential of avalanches. To eliminate as many dangers as possible our guides and snow safety expert are constantly monitoring the snow pack and weather conditions. We share that information with other guides and companies. Safety is our main priority.
What is the snow like?
Because New Zealand is an island and close to the sea we have maritime snow, it makes it easier for our first time clients as it compacts quickly after a dump. Snow will vary during the season depending on temperature, sun exposure, snowfall and wind. We are fortunate to get regular dumps of snow in our backcountry and our guides are excellent powder hunters.
How many people go in each group?
We are under strict weight restrictions for our helicopter loads so we weigh everyone in and that determines if we can fit 4 or 5 clients in the heli with one guide. If you choose the daily heliski option then we can have up to 4 groups working with one helicopter.
Do you have to jump out of the helicopter?
Although you can see that stuff in the movies we do not allow it. Our guides need to be able to unload equipment and get people out safely at the top of the mountain.
How many runs can I do in one day?
It depends on the package. Daily heliskiing offers the opportunity to add in extra runs so you can do more than the package bought. If you partake in a private charter you average around 10-15 runs in a day.
Can I book extra runs on the day?
Yes, all you need to do is let your guide know at lunch time and if 3 or more people agree to extra runs then we can do it. The cost is only $110 per extra run.
Do you offer fly fly option so I can get a longer scenic flight?
The fly fly is a great option to be first on the slopes and to get a longer scenic flight to and from the staging area. The cost is $200 per person and its worth it! Just ask when booking your heliski trip.
Why should I choose Southern Lakes Heliski
We have over 30 years of experience of taking people into the mountains, and we also have the largest amount of terrain within the Southern Lakes Region. This spans over 17 mountain ranges offering an excess of 800 runs so it gives us a lot of possibilities. We have an excellent team who bring a wealth of experience and knowledge accompanied by great customer service. Our aim is to allow people to tick off that bucket list and leave with a smile upon their faces.
When is the best time to go?
Our season can start in late June and runs to the end of September with our busiest period being from late July to early September. August is really busy so make sure you book in advance.
Do you mix skiers and boarders?
Yes and this has never been a problem. There is terrain out there for everyone and by the end of the day most people, whether they ski or board are sharing a beer and some stories together at the local pub.
Are your prices in New Zealand Dollars?
Yes but our eftpos facility allows us to take other currencies.
What kind of terrain do you ski and how steep is it?
We ski alpine terrain which is above the tree line. It has a combination of chutes, natural half pipes, big open bowls and can be steep or mellow. If the avalanche danger is low we can get into some steep terrain that will get your heart pumping.
How old do you have to be to go heli-skiing?
If you are an intermediate skier or boarder you are welcome to come. Our youngest so far has been 6 years old and he ripped!
Can I use my own transceiver?
Yes but we do include ours as standard practice.
How far in advance should I book?
You can book in on the day prior if we have space, but during our busy time (late July – early September) we advise you to book in advance.
What do I do to reserve my group?
Book directly on our website, or give us a call or an email and we will talk you through it. Once you confirm we will ask for a small deposit which is fully refundable if we can’t fly.
How do I make a reservation?
You can book by either:
Calling +64 3 442 6222
Or emailing us on: email@example.com
Payment and signing of our waiver forms is done the night before your trip so all we have to do on the day is pick you up and go powder hunting.
What do I do if I need to cancel?
Please contact us at the very earliest for cancellations. Costs may be incurred, please refer to our Terms & Conditions
If weather prevents me from completing my booked runs what happens?
Unfortunately sometimes bad weather prevents our operation. Should this occur, all payments will be fully refunded. If some heliskiing has been possible, but due to the weather you had fewer runs than you booked for; the value of refund offered will be determined by the package purchased. Visit us in-store for details. Refunds are not given due to injury, lack of ability, fitness or cancellations on the day so we advise all guests have insurance.
Can I bring a snowboard and skis and switch part way through the day?
No unfortunately we don’t have the room in our heli pod for both pieces of equipment.
Should I bring a backpack?
Try and be as compact as you can in the helicopter as there isn’t much room. We provide everything you need for the day so try to fit your camera, sunscreen etc into your jacket pockets.
What should I wear?
Wear what you would normally wear for a day on a ski field. A couple of warm layers under a ski jacket and pants. Make sure you bring your gloves, goggles, boots and ski or boarding equipment.
Do guests wear avalanche airbags?
SLHS doesn’t require the use of airbags but we allow it if guests want to wear one to feel safer in the mountains. All of our customers are given an avalanche transceiver and training. We also carry 2 shovels and probes per group of 4-5.
Do you accommodate special dietary requirements?
We sure do. Just let us know when you make your booking.
Do I need special skis or board?
For skiers we recommend fat powder skis (95mm or greater underfoot). Snowboarders have the option of using a longer board for big powder days or changing the stance on their own boards to a free ride position. Talk to our booking offices in Queenstown or Wanaka to make sure you have the right equipment for the day, if you don’t we’ll assist you with suitable rentals.
Do you offer a photo and video service?
Yes but we need to pre-book it so let us know before you head out and we will make sure we give you a photography guide. If safety is compromised photos will not be taken. marginal we won’t take photos. You are also welcome to bring your own cameras and we encourage it.
Do you offer film shoots and photo shoots?
Southern Lakes Heliski specialist film safety guides have assisted in the making of many film and television productions over the years. We provide extensive location knowledge, site management, helicopter safety and filming advice.