We love sharing our first-hand experience of our favourite New Zealand luxury accommodation and experiences – this week we take a look at Minaret Station, Wanaka. This spectacular property offers visitors an authentic slice of ‘Kiwi’ hospitality, served in a divine alpine setting, with a gourmet lunch experience on-site at their luxury lodge, which is only accessible by helicopter. Here, our marketing Manager Charlotte shares her experience:
“Recently I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to enjoy Minaret Station’s Mountain Kitchen Lunch – a very unique dining experience just outside of Wanaka New Zealand, situated in a remote alpine station, only accessible by helicopter.
Minaret Station is a unique luxury lodge positioned in a beautiful alpine valley – the mountain location has a real sense of place which can be hard to describe in words.
The Mountain Kitchen Lunch experience allows you to experience Minaret Station, even if you are not spending the night at the lodge, and is perfect for a special occasion or a treat, or can be combined with a scenic helicopter excursion through Fiordland National Park or Mount Aspiring for a full day out from either Queenstown or Wanaka.
For my experience, we were picked up from Camp Creek, which is on the shores of Lake Wanaka, approximately a 30-minutes’ drive from Wanaka town centre. This is the closest helicopter landing point to the station, which is positioned on the far side of the lake, although the helicopter can pick you up from many different locations including central Queenstown and Central Wanaka to transfer you across lake Wanaka.
The helicopter flight from Camp Creek was around 5-10 minutes, flying over Lake Wanaka and the Minaret Station Homestead (not part of the luxury accommodation offerings, this property is used by the owners). The scenery on the flight is classic New Zealand alpine and lakes, with both Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea in view – a very beautiful flight with great views. The helicopter flew up over a ridgeline and through the valley, giving us our first glimpse of the property and its setting, which until this point was hidden tucked away behind the surrounding mountain peaks.
The helicopter landed on one of the helipads dotted around, and we walked straight to the lodge living area where the staff were quick to take our jackets and offer a drink – the service was attentive yet discreet with the warm kiwi hospitality very evident. The living space has a real ‘lodge’ vibe to it, with a crackling open fireplace, wooden finishes and large cosy armchairs. The second living space also had a cosy log burner and some board games, and it is easy to picture yourself settled for the afternoon here as a guest!
After an opportunity to enjoy the warmth of the fire, and the magnificent views, we were seated around the long dining table for our lunch serving, and the in house chefs did not disappoint. Despite the remote location, the ingredients are fresh and locally sourced: To start, we enjoyed West coast crayfish served three ways, this was followed by venison carpaccio, then lamb back strap for main. Dessert was mini doughnut balls served with salted caramel sauce and a chocolate ganache. The cuisine was delicious and beautifully presented, and would not be out of place on the menu in one of Queenstown or Wanaka’s best restaurants, but Minaret Station has the added benefit of the dishes being served in a remote location that only a very lucky few get to experience each year.
It is hard to believe that everything at the property has been helicoptered in, as there is no road access! The views from the lodge dining area are really special, and you get the sensation that you are a million miles away from any civilisation, to get in touch with nature.
After lunch, we enjoyed a glass of wine outside next to the outdoor fireplace, and then a gentle stroll along the custom-built boardwalk, which allowed us to take in the dramatic landscape and really get a true sense of scale for the surrounding peaks. The stroll finished at a grand waterfall, where our helicopter transfer picked us up for our return back to reality.
The transfers to Minaret Station are arranged by Alpine Helicopters, who have an amazing selection of helicopter experiences in the surrounding area, and I think that the Mountain Kitchen Lunch could also be a fantastic addition to an exciting heli experience. Winter guests might enjoy a morning heli-skiing the local terrain, before a gourmet lunch dining experience at the lodge, or you might wish to enjoy the lunch following a visit to the world-famous Milford Sound.
All in all, I thought that the Mountain Kitchen Lunch experience was a very special day out, and one that steers away from the mainstream to provide something completely different – it is an experience which is completely unique in its offering, with fantastic food and a truly beautiful New Zealand alpine setting.”