Chalet Team

With it’s stunning, alpine location at 1750m on the edge of Mt Aspiring National park, safety is paramount at the Whare Kea Chalet. We call on our local experts to ensure that you get the very best, personalised experience.

Hugh Barnard - Chief Guide

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Hugh Barnard is an internationally qualified Mountain and Ski Guide. Since the addition of the Whare Kea Chalet, Hugh has been our Chief Guide responsible for the safety management of the Chalet project. He has been skiing and climbing with Whare Kea Lodge guests for over 15 years sharing many adventures.

He specialises in guiding private trips throughout New Zealand’s Southern Alps, including ascents of NZ’s classic summits, ski touring and customised trekking adventures, and has over 20 years experience in the heliski industry. Hugh divides his time between guiding and filmmaking, working as a producer and safety consultant. For more information about Hugh and his adventures, visit

James Ford - Chalet Operations Manager

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James Ford has been the lead pilot at Aspiring Helicopters for the last 5 years and flying around these mountains for many more before that. He also takes care of the helicopter Search and Rescue in the Wanaka/Mt Aspiring area. His skills and knowledge of the area – alongside the impressive Chalet location of 1750m - makes James the perfect Operations Manager for Whare Kea Chalet.

Aspiring Helicopters can pick you up from the lawn at the lodge for an incredible 20 minute scenic flight up to the chalet. From the chalet (or an extended flight to the chalet) is one of James’ favourite flights around Mt Aspiring & the Glaciers, landing on the Isobel Glacier and continuing on for a close up view of the back of Mt Aspiring and many ice blue glacial fields. Nothing beats a landing on Dragonfly Peak before descending down to the Whare Kea Chalet to be met by your host, a gourmet lunch and great coffee!