Lots of terrain options to explore in the mountain ranges around Lake Tekapo
Avoid the crowds and find the best snow with your NZMGA ski guide
Heli-assisted access provides great ski & split-board touring opportunities in the Two Thumb, Sherwood & Hall Ranges
Let our experienced guides take you on a great adventure
A great option to try ski touring, without a big commitment - just bring your own ski boots!
Enjoy a safe and hassle free backcountry ski holiday
Looking across to Aoraki and the Southern Alps
Heli-assisted ski & split-board tours
Ski lodge based day tours on the peaks and ranges around Lake Tekapo
NEW THIS SEASON! Ski and split-board touring for those wanting to be based out of Lake Tekapo, but still access the backcountry for rewarding ski tours.
You may be holidaying with family in Tekapo or haven’t got the time for the walk into our huts. Or maybe you simply prefer staying in a comfortable holiday home or hotel rather than a backcountry hut. Here is the ski touring trip for you!
Our trips can cater to first-time ski tourers as well as to experienced ski touring groups.
We have two different ski / split-board touring areas for you to choose from:
The "heart" of the Two Thumb and Sherwood Ranges to the east of Lake Tekapo is a backcountry skiing paradise with an amazing landscape providing a good variety of terrain. Nestled in difficult to access terrain - between the ski fields of Round Hill, Mount Dobson and Fox Peak - on a mixture of conservation land and private farm land, awaits a winter wonderland with rewarding day ski tours. There are no huts, nor is there any road access. So, we access this terrain in typical kiwi-style by helicopter.
These mountain ranges form the eastern boundary of the Mackenzie Basin, close enough to the Southern Alps to get great views and regular snow fall, but sheltered enough to escape many of the predominant north-west storms hitting the Main Divide.
The Hall Range to the west of Lake Tekapo is an exciting new backcountry skiing venue towering above the Mistake Valley. The mountain range is just east of the main Southern Alps and being close to the Main Divide, this area receives regular snow fall and has great skiing and split-boarding.
Returning to the comforts of Lake Tekapo every evening, you have the recipe for a great backcountry holiday - relax with a soak in the hot pools or enjoy a stargazing tour after an exhilarating ski tour in untouched snow! We recommend 2 days for a weekend away for "sampling" backcountry ski touring, and 4 days for those looking for a refreshing break combining the comfort of the township and its attractions with active visits in the surrounding alpine environment.
Value & flexibilty
All trips are planned with your arrival in the evening before the first day in the snow, so no time is lost in the morning for checking gear, getting organised or waiting for participants to arrive - we like you to get maximum value and enjoy full days out in the mountains! Trips are designed to be flexible with our changeable New Zealand weather in mind. The base trip cost is paid upfront, with helicopter flights paid extra, based on if and how much you fly (flights can be affected by weather or the group may choose to add on extra days). We also want you to offer you the most competitive flight price, as numbers and total passenger weight influences the costs. Talk to our office staff to get all the information you need on the flight cost.
|Participants||2 days||4 days||Heli cost (per day)|
|Group Booking Discounts (NZ$ per person)|
Flight costs - not included in trip price:
Heli cost will be charged after the trip, as weather may influence the number of flying days. Extra heli days can be added on request during a trip, but require buy-in from the whole group (we cannot split groups during a trip due to the unlikelihood of extra guides being available at short-notice).
- Expect a normal trip to include:
- 2 day trip: 1 flying day - add 1x heli cost to trip price
- 4 day trip: 2 flying days - add 2x heli cost to trip price
- IFMGA/NZMGA certified mountain and ski guide
- Department of Conservation licence fees
- Heated PRIVATE lodge accommodation (for the night before and all nights during the trip)
- One-ride pass for Mt. Dobson Ski Area
- ALL ground-based transport during trip
- ALL meals (including breakfast and dinner at lodge, picnic lunch and snacks on the mountain) for the duration of the trip
- ALL avalanche safety and alpine ski touring equipment (with the exception of ski boots and split-board setups)
Meals before/after the trip are NOT included. Accommodation after the trip is NOT included.
Accommodation upgrade options:
If you wish to upgrade from a shared room, Edelweiss Lodge also has a selection of private rooms available - please enquire when you book.
If you are on a holiday in Tekapo and you have your own accommodation and meals sorted, talk to our office staff as we can give you a discounted price for the trip.
+Minimum & Maximum Numbers
A minimum number of 2 participants is required to run this trip. If you end up being the only person booked on the trip, you will be offered the choice of:
- paying an additional fee of NZ for 2 days, or NZ for 4 days. Heli cost is NZ per day.
- rescheduling to another trip/date
- a full refund
The maximum number of participants per guide is 4 (although a 1:6 ratio is available for larger group bookings on request). The standard mixed/open group size is 4. The maximum private group size is 12, with 2-3 guides.
Take advantage of our group booking discounts and get a group of family and friends together. The amount of discount you will be eligible for will depend on the group size - the more people you book, the more your discount will be! If our scheduled dates don't suit your group's travel plans, please contact us as we can reschedule a trip to suit (subject to guide availability).
Please note that group bookings are not private bookings - if you wish to keep your group closed (ie. you have a private guide just for your group), a surcharge will apply. Alternatively you can book a group of 4, 8 or 12 (which will ensure there are no others in your group).
Green : Minimum reached - guaranteed departure.
Orange : Only 4 or fewer places available.
Red : No availability.
Venue: Edelweiss Lodge
↑ Edelweiss Lodge, Lake Tekapo
This modern four-bedroomed holiday home has a lovely sense of space with great mountain and lake views. Only a kilometre walk from the town centre and bus stop (we can arrange a pick-up on request), it's a pleasant stroll to a good choice of cafés and restaurants in town and about 15 minutes walk to the hot pools and spa.
For more information about the lodge and the various room options, please see the Edelweiss Lodge page.
Heli-assisted Skiing & Split-boarding Fitness & Experience
Ski & Split-board Touring Fitness:
You will be carrying a 4-6kg day pack, including avalanche rescue equipment, spare clothing and your lunch. Compared with our hut-based trips, a lower level of fitness is required as participants DO NOT need to carry an overnight pack, however reasonable uphill fitness is recommended to get maximum enjoyment out of each touring day. Expect the equivalent of a six-hour walk/climb.
The terrain is suitable for intermediate to advanced skiers/boarders. Guides will give instruction on downhill technique as needed. The 4 day option is recommended for those who have limited backcountry and off-piste skiing experience, as the first day(s) can be spent at one of our local ski fields (Mt. Dobson, Fox Peak or Ohau), with an opportunity to work on backcountry-specific techniques, such as kick-turns and the use of ski poles for split-boarders.
Previous Ski & Split-board Touring experience:
Two Thumb & Sherwood Ranges: No previous backcountry ski touring experience is required, however you are expected to have at least an intermediate level of downhill skiing / snowboarding ability (safe turns in untracked snow). For snowboarders & skiers we would expect that traversing (holding height while skiing/boarding from A to B across a slope without turning) moderately steep slopes is not a problem for you.
Hall Range: Previous backcountry ski & split-board touring experience is recommended, but not essential.
6:00pm gear check at Alpine Recreation's Edelweiss Lodge, 8 Erebus Place, Lake Tekapo. We schedule our gear check in the evening before the trip start, so we can give you a full day on the snow. A gear check and the trip overview commonly takes between 1 to 2 hours.
From Lake Tekapo township we drive to our local skifield of Mount Dobson. Access to the lifts for a "free climb" is included in the trip. For any ski touring first-timers, the ski field gives your guide the opportunity to introduce the equipment and its use in an easy to manage environment. We can even make use of some groomed terrain to enable you a smooth transition from the ski area to the backcountry, for both skinning (the uphill mode) and the downhill. The day is spent with short tours close to the ski area depending on your ability. Spending a day based at the ski field means that you are fully ready for the heli-accessed touring, even if you already have some touring experience.
Experienced ski touring groups may of course start directly with a heli-touring day (extra cost!). In that case, the trip would start with a short shuttle to the hangar of our flying partner MacKenzie Helicopters. They are based just outside Lake Tekapo township by the military camp. Please see info below on "Second Day" for touring description.
In the early morning, we are headed out to the hangar of our flying partner MacKenzie Helicopters. After the short check-in including a heli-briefing and weighing of our load, we will be airborne to our touring destination. Within about 15 minutes flight time over the MacKenzie Basin and Lake Tekapo we get taxied to the snow. Depending on weather, avalanche conditions and your skill levels the guide picks the best start and end point for the day tour. Unlike heli-skiing, the pilot only drops us off, leaves immediately and then the solitude and sounds of only the mountains return. The rest of our day is human powered and shaped by your group only. We have a variety of terrain to choose from and we are lucky enough to have something on offer for almost every ability.
Subsequent Days (for 4 day trips only):
Based at Edelweiss Lodge, you can already make the plan for the next day with your guide in the evening. We have factored in 2 heli-touring days on every 4 day trip, knowing that flexibility is key to maximise your skiing. Weather, in particular visibility and wind, will shape our plans. We are in Lake Tekapo for a reason. We can still get you out in the mountains east of the Main Divide, when the Nor-wester has shut down options in Aoraki Mount Cook - provided the wind is not too strong, we can fly, otherwise we can often still get into the backcountry from one of our local ski areas. All our skiing is on non-glaciated terrain, which has been shaped by glaciers many thousand years ago.
In addition - if a day turns out to be completely miserable, our guides are all well trained avalanche professionals and they are happy to use a bad weather day for instruction.
Extra heli-touring days can be added in good weather. Please also refer to the "Tour Options" section for a list of our terrain options.
↑ Some of our heli-assisted ski & split-board touring terrain near Mt. Dobson, Two Thumb Range, Lake Tekapo
There are many variations on these tours. These are just a few examples of our many terrain options in the Two Thumb, Sherwood and Hall Ranges:
Fox Peak - Sherwood Range:
This is our easy to intermediate terrain, with fun advanced options along the ridges south of Fox Peak. Here we find wide open bowls offering guides run options to choose from almost all aspects to optimise skiing. This location is higher than all South Island ski fields and will hold good snow, when the white stuff is scarce elsewhere.
Mt. Misery - Two Thumb Range:
The touring terrain between the heads of the South Opuha River and Forest Creek, overlooked by Mt. Misery (2305m) is characterised by wide SE facing bowls that are dropping steeply into the valley floors below 1700m. It is more complex terrain, separated by steeper ridge lines and when touring between bowls it becomes intermediate or advanced terrain. However, there are easy runs to be found when touring in just one bowl.
The terrain here is intermediate to advanced - a narrower valley with predominantly East / SE facing bowls along the ridge between Mt. Hazard & Mt. Radove. It is a bit more complex to tour along the ridge and dropping into the bowls, while working and jojo-ing your way down-valley. In very good snow conditions a pick-up from Middle Gorge Hut might be possible.
Mt Dobson Ski Area Back Country:
Intermediate to advanced touring options can be accessed from the top of the lifts, including traversing out to Tekapo Saddle (great lake views). A variety of aspects with various gully and bowl features are accessible from the summit ridge or further north from the ridge joining Dobson Peak to The Knobbies.
Ohau Ski Area Back Country:
Several touring options from the top of the lift (additional one lift ski pass required). Most touring is intermediate to advanced from Ohau, as access to the easily skiable bowls requires some ski touring experience.
You can have a taste of backcountry ski touring before committing to buying all the gear. We can provide touring skis, skins, poles, transceivers, probe, shovel and any other equipment you might need, but you will need to bring your own ski boots. Outdoor clothing and packs can also be provided at no extra cost if necessary.
All of your equipment will be checked during the gear check at our office at the start of your trip. Any equipment you need to borrow from us will be issued by your guide.