Trip Overview 

Minaret Station Alpine Lodge combines the very best of super-luxury and rustic comfort and is found at the head of a beautiful glacial valley in the mountains (but you can only reach this veritable Shangri La in a helicopter).  This is one of the most authentic and exclusive destinations we have ever been able to offer; indeed, it is the first and finest destination of its kind in New Zealand.  A few days at this secluded luxury alpine retreat will give you a high-end adventure unlike any other.  Owned and founded by the legendary Wallis family of Wanaka, pioneers of the helicopter and deer farming industries in New Zealand, Minaret Station is steeped in outdoor heritage.  The picturesque mountains that surround the lodge are a striking juxtaposition to the soft, sheepskin carpets in each of the four luxuriously appointed Chalets, each of which boasts a private hot tub and balcony.  Helicopters are an indellible part of this experience, as they enable guests to enjoy a wide range of unique outdoor activities from biking (downhill), hiking, and, of course, fishing on some of the most pristine and remote trout rivers on earth.  Minaret Station also serves as a working high-country farm and exemplifies the pasture-to-plate principle—there is no better way to experience the taste of New Zealand lamb, deer or beef than in the Mountain Kitchen at Minaret Station.  Fact: there is no way you will leave this alpine playground without thinking about when you might be able to venture back again for more.       

Destination Quick Facts 

LOCATION: Queenstown Lakes Region (South Island)

SEASON:  October to April

CAPACITY: 8 persons

CLOSEST MAJOR AIR HUB:  Queenstown (ZQN)

TARGET SPECIES: Rainbow and Brown Trout, Kawahai (sea trout), and Chinook Salmon (in the short season)

 

CONTACT US FOR MORE INFO     888-777-5060     INTL 01-1-406-585-8667       info [at] yellowdogflyfishing [dot] com

ACCOMMODATIONS

Lodging Details
The central Lodge features the Mountain Kitchen, living & dining areas, wood-burning fires and a private libarary.  A series of wooden boardwalks link this central building to the four outlying Chalets.  King sized beds and carpets of sheepskin await guests in each these spacious, warm and well-decorated Chalets.  A fully modern ensuite bathroom containing the finest amenities is separated from the bedroom by a dressing room.  Grab a beverage from the complimentary mini bar or drink fresh water direct from the waterfall cascading down the mountain. Step out onto the deck to dip in your own private hot tub and enjoy the breathtaking scenery by day or the starscape by night.  There is wireless internet throughout the property and iPod surround sound in each of the Chalets.

Food and Beverages
Fresh, local produce is the most important ingredient at Minaret Station, but they always take it a step further by presenting it beautifully as well.  Their talented team of chefs present modern cuisine that draws influence from Europe and Asia using fresh, seasonal produce from Minaret Station and the surrounding local region.  Any of the meals served in the Mountain Kitchen are great by themselves, although pairing them with any of the complimentary local, award-winning wines will surely delight a discriminating palate.  Guests can choose to dine family-style at the main table in the Mountain Kitchen, out on the deck with panoramic views to the snow-capped peaks just beyond, or in the privacy of their Chalets.  The Mountain Kitchen is New Zealand’s most remote fine dining experience. 

Typical Length of Stay
Trips of any length can be arranged. There is no set change-over day, so guests can arrive and depart on any day of the week. 

Non-Angling Activities
Non-angling guests are very well looked-after when their companions are out in the bush and there are a number of guided hikes available in the immediate vicinity of the lodge.  Knowledgeable guides are available to lead you on a number of hikes (varying in difficulty) and this is included in your stay.  Other attractions in the area, accessible by helicopter include glacier hikes, lake cruises, jetboating, horseriding, farm tours, scenic charters to Fiordland, the West Coast and the neighbouring Mt. Aspiring National Park.  Minaret Station’s incredible list of activities extend beyond fly-fishing to ensure that there is something for everyone.  The four Wallis brothers who own and operate Minaret Station have a deeply-rooted affinity for the outdoors; they own a large fleet of modern helicopters and are all extremely experienced pilots.  It is, therefore, unsurprising that the activities compendium would be stocked with incredible adventures, many of which are carried out with the help of a helicopter.  The opportunity to tour the vast wilderness of New Zealand’s South Island from the air is truly one of the most unique and exhilarating experiences on earth, and the options for exploration are limitless:  

  • Scenic Heli-Flights:  choose from a wide range of experiences that can feature anything from Milford Sound’s ice-carved cliffs rising straight out of the ocean to a snow landing alongside the dramatic glaciers of Mt. Aspiring National Park, a tour of the lush and sublime west coast region with a stop on the rocky shoreline for a crayfish lunch that is fresh-caught from the ocean.
  • Farm Tour:  a highly recommended trip and a great way to experience a quintessential New Zealand sheep station at work, shepherds, sheep, dogs and all
  • Heli-Biking:  after a quick orientation, you will be transported by helicopter to one of countless trails in the Southern Alps and it is all downhill from there
  • Daily or overnight charters to the rugged West Coast, lush Fiordland or isolated Stewart Island; packages and pricing can be designed to suit a bespoke itinerary
  • Heli-picnic: travel in style to a high country hut or alpine lake for a picnic suited for royalty.  Special requests, such as champagne, can be very easily accommodated
  • Heli-Hiking: enjoy exlusive access to a wide range of tramping trails in either Fiordland or Mt. Aspiring National Parks.  Get up close to the verdant flora or the curious fauna or just splash in one of the millions of waterfalls in the area.  Advanced alpine climbing options are also available
  • Jet boating: a thrilling way to experience the area is in a jet-boat, which will be awaiting you on the nearby Matukituki River.  Enjoy an informative guided hike following the ride upriver
  • Still life art classes: one on one tuition with a local artist
  • Heli Horse trekking: many guided itineraries are available and the ride concludes at a local vineyard for a wine tasting. 
  • Heli-Wine Tours:  tours can be customised and there are dozens of local vineyards to visit.  The area is well known for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris varieties. 
  • Guided hunting: Minaret Station is one of New Zealand’s premier guided hunting lodges and their experienced team of guides know how to put guests into range of some remarkable trophies.  There is a robust and diverse population of game that populate the remote mountains and valleys of the region, which makes the adventure all the more exciting. 

Should you wish to arrange any of these activities in advance—our recommendation—please call the Yellow Dog office on 888-777-5060 to learn more and ensure that your experience at Minaret Station will be seamless and full of adventure. 

Internet/Communications
Complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the lodge as well as a satellite television in the study of the Mountain Kitchen.  There is no cell phone coverage at the lodge, although each Chalet has a satellite landline available for urgent calls.

FISHING

General information
Minaret Station offers countless freshwater fishing options throughout the Southern Alps and is a premier fly fishing destination for anglers of varying abilities.  Minaret Station privately owns a 50,000 acre parcel of wilderness in Mt. Aspiring National Park, which affords guests unprecedented exclusivity and access to some of the greatest backcountry trout streams and rivers in the Southern Lakes region.  Furthermore, they hold independent concessions to fish on conservation lands that span roughly four million acres and include National Parks and World Heritage areas.  For the angler who wants to “get off the grid” and fish rivers that few other humans ever see in a season, this program is perfect.  Although the main focus is sight fishing for the healthy rainbow and brown trout who thrive in the nutrient-rich glacier-fed stream and rivers, there are options to fish sea run trout on the coast or chinook salmon during their short season.  These trout are generally unpressured, but accurate casting and earth-toned clothing are still very important considerations when stalking notoriously wily trout in these crystal clear waters.  All guides are members of the New Zealand Professional Fishing Guides Association Anglers and are very knowledgeable about trout behaviour and are very closely attuned to the feeding habits of the fish on any given day.  You can expect to use dry flies, streamers and nymphs on the same stretch of water within the same day.  Heavy nymphs and streamers are most commonly used in the early season while dries are most effective later in the season when the storied cicada hatch takes place.  Nymphs are generally successful throughout the season. 

Equipment
Simms and Sage equipment can be provided to guests on request and is included in the fishing rate.  The Wallis family owns and operates its own helicopter company, Alpine Helicopters, which was once the largest fleet in the country.  These very modern helicopters are flown by highly trained pilots and are an excellent way to access the incredible backcountry of New Zealand.  Your guides will be very knowledgeable about all the local fisheries and you can be sure that they will show you a terrific time whilst putting you onto trophy trout.    

TRAVEL DETAILS

How to get there
It is surprisingly simple to get to New Zealand from the United States, with many major airlines offering direct flights to Auckland from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston.  Air New Zealand and Qantas offer daily direct flights to Auckland, New Zealand, and from there you will catch one of the hourly flights to Queenstown.  Upon arrival in Auckland, you will need to pass through immigration and customs—a process that is notoriously challenging for anglers travelling with fishing gear and outdoor equipment due to the strict biosecurity regulations in New Zealand.  If you would like to bring your own equipment into the country, please let us know so that we can give you the best possible information on how to do so in a way that will not result in the confiscation of your gear!  Once you have cleared this process, you will need to proceed to the domestic terminal either by bus or by walking five minutes along the clearly marked path.  Air New Zealand representatives will be standing by to assist you in checking your luggage to Queenstown.  Be aware that carry-on restrictions are tighter on regional aircraft, so you may have to check an additional bag.  Check in is after 2:00pm and check out is before 11:00am.  Earlier transfers to Minaret or later departures upon request are subject to availability and guest activity reservations.   

Arrival and Departure Details/Times
Upon arrival in either Queenstown or Wanaka, you will be met by a representative from Minaret Station who will escort you to the helicopter that will then transport you to the Lodge in roughly 25 minutes.  Check in at the Minaret Station Alpine Lodge is from 2:00pm.  Check out is prior to 11:00am.  An early check in or late check out is subject to availability and can be incorporated with scenic flights and activities on arrival or departure day.  A minimum two night stay applies over the period of December 23 to January 5.

Documents Required
Valid passport and proof of departure from New Zealand (return plane ticket is adequate);  If the intention is to stay longer than 3 months, a visa application will need to be completed. 

Travel Arrangements
Yellow Dog  offers a full in-house travel and reservations system, and we can assist with airline tickets, hotels, transfers, and all travel logistics for every destination that we offer.  Contact us at 888-777-5060 or travel [at] yellowdogflyfishing [dot] com for more details on airfare ticketing, travel services and trip insurace.  

RATES

Package Rates
Remember that Yellow Dog's services are completely free! When you book a trip with Yellow Dog, you never pay more than when you book directly with the lodge or outfitter. All prices listed below are per person, based on double occupancy, and quoted in US dollars. Trips of any length can be arranged, so please call Yellow Dog for details and custom package pricing.

Due to the extensive use of helicopters, all packages are custom.  Please call us to arrange your perfect Minaret Station fly fishing package based on the rates below.  These rates are for guided fly fishing only and are valid until March 2017 and include a guide, fishing equipment, helicopter charter, picnic lunch and a fishing license.*  

Fly out, Eastern Headwaters
1x1 Guiding - $3,395 NZD per angler
2x1 Guiding - $1,995 NZD per angler

Fly out, Western Headwaters
1x1 Guiding - $4,995 NZD per angler
2x1 Guiding - $2,850 NZD per angler

Fly out, Southwest Coast/Fiordland
1x1 Guiding - $6,495 NZD per angler
2x1 Guiding - $3,750 NZD per angler

Camp Out, add on
Fishing rates plus $250 NZD (1x1 Guiding)
Fishing rates plus $350 NZD (2x1 Guiding)

*Accommodation is not included in the rates above, but each Chalet sleeps two guests (King or Twinshare) at a rate of $2,000 NZD per night.  A fold-out bed is available in an adjoining room for additional guests.  $250 NZD per child (age 13 and younger) and $500 NZD per adult. 

WHAT’S INCLUDED: 

  • All chef-prepared cuisine, including: full a la carte breakfast, lunch (picnic or seated), pre-dinner canapés, and a gourmet three-course evening meal
  • All beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic (except reserve cellar wine list)
  • Complimentary mini bar and Nespresso Machine
  • Private in-deck hot tub
  • Services of a guide for on-property activities
  • Taxes and GSTs

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:

  • International airfare to Auckland and domestic airfare to Queenstown
  • Scenic helicopter transfers ex Wanaka Airport (WKA) or Queenstown Airport (ZQN) – obligatory $1800 per adult or $450 per child (age 13 and younger)
  • Ground travel and arrangements pre- and post- stay after helicopter transfer to/from Minaret Station
  • Reserve Cellar wine list
  • Off property activities (per the activites compendium)

Note: A 3.5% fee applies to all credit card transactions

Children welcome.  When aged 10 and older when not sharing a Chalet as an additional person, you will be required to be charged for a separate Chalet.  Children aged 9 years or younger, sleeping on a portable bed, fold down sofa bed or cot may share a chalet with a parent. Maximum 1 child per Chalet at $250 incl GST per night per child.

OTHER INFO

Helicopter Luggage/Weight Policy
Helicopter transfer costs are based on a small to medium soft bag and hand luggage accompanying each passenger.  Large hard suitcases cannot be accommodated.  It is mandatory to provide passenger names and weights for all passenger manifests.

Should luggage or passenger weight exceed the maximum allowance, complimentary luggage storage can be provided in Wanaka at their base or collected and stored in Queenstown for $75.