Late Winter - A Chalet Lunch

Posted on September 24, 2012

First activity blog posting: Where better to start than the Whare Kea Chalet? In the above image try to spot the Chalet.


This posting is more of a pictorial “fly-through” taken last Thursday on a stunning late Winter/early Spring morning.

We headed off earlier than anticipated with a great looking window in the temperamental and ever dictating weather of late. The chopper floated off from the lawn under the control of Aspiring Helicopters’ Charlie Ewing (page 106 in the Wanaka: Earth to Heaven at Whare Kea Book).


The Matukituki River and the West Wanaka Bridge. Looking West over Hospital Flat, heading North up the lake edge.

For a change to the norm, we headed up the lake edge (Lake Wanaka) over the mouth of the Matukituki River and the stunning islands on Mou Tapu & Mou Waho and then headed West into the Minarets Burn valley. As we headed upstream the latest dump of snow became more and more dramatic.


Views of lower and upper Minaret Burn – Look at all that fresh snow!!!

As an example of how dramatic this flight was; the little confluence into Minaret Burn at the foot of the right hand image above is at 900m above sea level, and the cloudy peak above rises to double that at 1860m.  

Turning to the view out the front window- Well Mount Aspiring, it is always a pleasure and privilege to see you!

 Sitting proud at 3033m above sea level it feels like we are right next to it, but actually we are still over 5km away from it’s awesome walls of ice. We head up and over the ridge and we are presented with the Albert Burn Saddle and the Whare Kea Chalet nestled in the snow with commanding views of Aspiring.

What a sight!

Landing in the snow next to the chalet and shutting down the aircraft, we jump out to a surprisingly warm Spring day in the mountains with nothing but the odd gust of wind to perk up our pilots ever surveying senses. We head to the door where the deck has been completely covered in 4-5ft of snow and I started to dig us in.

 Guests enjoying the isolation of Whare Kea Chalet

Main living area in Chalet

 Quickly we slipped in to the warm sheepskin lined boots inside the chalet and headed through into the main area complete with a cosy gas fire and a kitchen to hand to put the kettle on and serve lunch.



Toward Mt Cook



Here's the view from one of the downstairs bedrooms. Imaging waking to a view of Mt. Cook in the distance.  




A Delicious Lunch (page 270 in the book) prepared earlier by Chef James.

A relaxed lunch and time to take in our surroundings, I took a couple of shots of the chalet exterior in all its glory:

Mount Aspiring peering out over the top of the rolling cloud bank.


Retreating icicles & dramtic light on the snow drifts.


On our return to the lodge, Lake Wanaka & the township opened up to us and this was the view!


Looking back toward Wanaka, over the Deer station at Cattle Flat, the Matukituki River Mouth and Roys Peninsula.

All in all one of the most fantastic things to do here at Whare Kea is to visit the Chalet for any reason be it one or many (all-levels of fitness) hikes, overnight stays, heli-skiing in winter, artists retreat, stop for a coffee on a heli-scenic to Milford Sound or the above “Gourmet Lunch with Altitude”. Many have mentioned the power they can feel from the mountains around you at the Chalet, the insignificance of one’s self in the vastness of the valleys, their gratitude to the mountains, and on a more practical side what an engineering feat to have built an extension of Whare Kea Lodge at 1750m accessible only by a serious hike or chopper ride! Whatever your take, the chalet will emboss itself in your memories forever.

Read more about our Chalet here