Wanaka's only alpine expedition style ski camp

First Tracks Wanaka Alpine Heli Camp

Experience ski touring from Wanaka's only alpine expedition style ski camp with the First Tracks Wanaka Alpine Heli Camp. 

Choose from 2, 3 or 4 day options that include helicopter access to the sublime ski touring terrain of the remote McKerrow Range overlooking Lakes Wanaka and Hawea.

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Difficulty Level Low ?
Fitness Level Low ?
Duration 2 to 4 days
Elevation 1,400M / 4,593FT
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One of the Southern Lakes finest ski touring venues - Liz Mathieson

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Bring your mates and enjoy exclusive access to our Alpine Heli Camp - Liz Mathieson

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Guides check snow profiles reguglarly - Suze Kelly

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Traversing across to more fresh terrain - Guy Cotter

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A range of intermediate to expert runs are available - Guy Cotter

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Enjoying overnighting in our high mountain expedition style tents - Andy Cole

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2,3 or 4 day options

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Helicopter drop off and pick up from our camp - Kirsten Rabe

From August to October
Departs from Wanaka, New Zealand
From August to October
Departs from Wanaka, New Zealand
1:2 $1,740 NZD $ $2,020 NZD $ $2,270 NZD $
1:3 $1,230 NZD $ $1,510 NZD $ $1,760 NZD $
1:4 $980 NZD $ $1,260 NZD $ $1,510 NZD $
  • Overview

    • Wanaka's only alpine expedition style ski camp
    • 2, 3 or 4 day options
    • Helicopter into our comfortable high-mountain expedition style camp in the remote McKerrow Range to enjoy fantastic ski touring right outside the tent door!

    Bring a sleeping bag, your touring gear and a few of your mates to enjoy exclusive access to the area featuring a wide variety of terrain with great features and sublime views over lakes Wanaka and Hawea.

    You’ll be accompanied by a friendly and personable guide who will get you to the best skiing during the day and by night you get to enjoy hearty meals in the camp while you relax with your buddies and reflect on your day. Get up the next morning and go ski some more new terrain!

    We also have single-day options available with First Tracks Heli-Accessed Ski Touring.

  • Why First Tracks?

    Professional and experienced mountain guides run all of our trips. First Tracks Wanaka has a commitment to ensure the highest standard of instruction and guiding practices and we only employ guides who share our philosophy. Our guides will offer you the best possible experience, and a safe and enjoyable time.

    Our guides are all NZMGA and/or IFMGA internationally qualified. They have been trained and assessed through the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association, and operate to the high standards and guidelines set out by the association.

    Experience the solitude of skiing in the big mountains without the expense of heli-skiing or the time commitment of a trip into the glaciers. Once the helicopter departs enjoy the peace and solitude of the Southern Alps and ski/ride for as many runs as your legs can handle!

  • Payment Conditions


    The price of your trip includes the following:

    • Guide and permit fees
    • Helicopter flights in and out
    • Helicopter transfer of gear to Camp Peaks Camp
    • Return transport from Wanaka office to staging area
    • Guided ski touring of 3-6 runs per day
    • Bunk accommodation in shared dorm tent with wooden floor
    • Meals while in the mountains
    • Avalanche rescue equipment (transceiver, shovel and probe)
    • 15% NZ Goods and Services Tax
    • Ski touring equipment (skis with touring binding, skins and poles)


    The price of your trip does not include:

    • Personal equipment (clothing, day pack, sunblock, water)
    • Drinks (BYO)

    Registration, Deposit & Balance Payments

    In order to confirm a guide and your First Tracks Wanaka Heli Camp trip, we require a completed Registration Form and a deposit of NZ$1000.

    The balance of payment is then due 60 days prior to the start date.

    Please note: In order to reserve a guide we recommend that you book well in advance.

    Payment Options

    All payments should be made by bank transfer to the following bank and account:

    Bank: Bank of New Zealand
    For the account of: Adventure Consultants Limited
    Account number: 02 0673 0043443 00
    Account Type: NZ Dollars

    We can also accept your deposit and balance payment by credit card plus a 3% credit card fee – Visa, Mastercard, Amex

    Cancellation & Refund Policy

    Once you have paid your deposit your trip is confirmed, subject to payment of the balance of fees owing 60 days prior to your trip commencement date. An expedition member may then cancel his/her participation on the following basis:

    Up to 60 days prior to the departure date a NZ$250 fee applies.
    Inside 60 days of the departure date we reserve the right to retain 50% of the full fee.
    Inside 30 days of the departure date we reserve the right to retain 75% of the full fee.
    Inside 15 days of the departure date forfeits 100% of the full fee.

    Trip Cancellation Insurance

    We highly recommend you take out trip cancellation insurance via your travel agent – trip cancellation insurance is usually packaged together with your travel insurance and covers you for loss of deposits should you not be able to make the trip for personal reasons.

  • Trip Details

    First Tracks Wanaka camp posterFind out more about the First Tracks Wanaka Alpine Heli Camp using the tabs above, or contact us for more details.

    Team Membership

    The trip will run with a minimum number of three people and a maximum of eight. The guiding ratio is 1:4.

    Our Guides

    NZMGA IFMGA LogoProfessional and experienced mountain guides run all of our First Tracks trips. First Tracks and Adventure Consultants have a commitment to ensure the highest standard of instruction and guiding practices and we only employ guides who share our philosophy. Our guides will offer you the best possible experience, and a safe and enjoyable time. An open and helpful approach is encouraged within the group to help communicate and reinforce the learning process.

    Our guides are all NZMGA and/or IFMGA internationally qualified. They have been trained and assessed through the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association, and operate to the high standards and guidelines set out by the association.

    Head Office Support Team

    Running successful journeys and expeditions is more about experience, knowledge and strategic management than any other factors. As an organisation, we place a substantial amount of time and resources into ensuring our trips are well planned and supported. You can be assured that the First Tracks staff will provide you with friendly advice and knowledgeable support throughout the planning stages of your trip and we will be there to provide backup while the trip is running.

    Em Weatherall climbing cropEmberly Wetherall, Client Liaison

    Emberly has been with Adventure Consultants since March 2016 in the role of Client Liaison and Retail Buyer. She brings a positive attitude and 'can do' approach to her role.



    AC Team 2016 Landscape

    Your Health

    Our registration form requests that you advise us of any medical problems you may have and if you are on any medication. Any information you supply will be treated as confidential.

    Level of Experience Required

    Skiers are to be a minimum of strong intermediate off-piste skiers. You will be grouped with similar ability skiers as much as possible to maximise your day.

    Preparing for Your Trip

    To make the most of your skiing experience we encourage you to work on your fitness and skiing/snowboarding prior to the trip.


    We strongly recommend that you take out trip cancellation insurance to protect yourself in the case of injury or mishap prior to/or whilst on our trips. This is usually available as an option when you purchase your airfare.

    Whilst our focus is on safety and our track record supports this, the mountains do have hazards and there is always the potential for mishap.

    If you were injured whilst on the trip the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) will pay rescue costs, however, you would not be e


    We will provide nutritious and hearty food throughout the trip. All meals will be provided whilst in the mountains. We can cater for special diets such as vegan and gluten/dairy free, please advise us at the time of registration.


    Wanaka has a range of accommodation from backpackers, motels, hotels and luxury lodges. We are happy to assist with your accommodation arrangements.

    Clothing & Equipment

    While winter ski touring in the New Zealand mountains requires good personal gear due to the potential cold weather conditions, your regular ski clothing, bulked up with some extra warm layers will normally suffice.

    We will provide your avalanche safety equipment, transceiver, probe and shovel, but you will need to come prepared with your ski touring equipment, personal clothing, sun cream and water.

    There are a number of rental options available in Wanaka and we can help you with sourcing rental of specialised touring skis, boots and climbing skins. We have snowshoes available for rent for snowboarders or we can help you rent a split board and climbing skins.


    We commence the First Tracks trips from our base in Wanaka. Air New Zealand and Qantas/Jetstar provide daily services for flights from Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington to Queenstown. There are also direct international flights from Australian cities to Queenstown.

    Alpine Connexions operate a shuttle service several times daily between Queenstown and Wanaka (approximately one hour driving time and at a cost from $35 each way).

    Bus services operate daily between Christchurch and Wanaka (approximately 6 hours travel time).

  • Itinerary

    A backcountry ski touring and riding trip staying at our Wanaka Alpine Heli Camp offers a great base to experience a few days of premier alpine ski touring in the Southern Alps.

    We require you to register with us and check in the day prior, and then your trip begins at 7.45 am on day one at the Adventure Consultants Office in Wanaka.

    Following the morning introductions, your guide will check your equipment one final time and issue avalanche safety equipment; transceiver, probe and shovel, but you will need to come prepared with your ski touring equipment, backpack, personal clothing, sun cream and water as well as overnight gear such as sleeping bag and down jacket.

    We then drive to the helicopter staging area by Lake Wanaka, load up the helicopter and fly into the mountains. After dropping off our overnight gear at the Alpine Camp site, we’re offloaded at the ridge line for a ski/board from the top of the mountain!

    Each day, depending on conditions, you will be touring around the slopes whilst doing workshops on different aspects of ski and snowboard mountaineering techniques.

    At the end of the trip, we are picked up from the Alpine Camp site at 3.00-3.30pm and drive back to the Adventure Consultants office in Wanaka to finish by 4-5.00pm.

  • Add Ons

    Wanaka and Queenstown have some of the most relaxing and beautiful accommodation in New Zealand. Let your friendly liaison know if you would like to discover some of the potential options that they have to offer.

    Top pick! Wildwire

    Experience a via ferrata (iron rung) climb on soaring waterfall whilst in Wanaka! Wildwire is a truly great guided day out climbing a private via ferrata at Twin Falls in the Matukituki Valley. A safe and fun active activity for all ages.

    Scenic Flights

    In Wanaka we are surrounded by a myriad of lakes and mountain ranges as well as South Westland and Fiordland National Park, with the world famous Milford Sound. Seeing such sights from above by helicopter or plane is a must whilst visiting the South Island.

    Bungy Jumping

    Bungy… the quintessential New Zealand activity that speaks for itself. And Canyon Swing! Let us organise this for you after your trip with us and take the hassle out of it.

    Skydive Wanaka

    If you’ve ever wondered about hurtling towards the earth at 200kmph then now is the time to ‘dive in’. Wanaka boasts the most amazing scenery (on the planet, we reckon) to jump over and it’s even more spectacular when viewed from above in winter covered in snow.

    Multi-Pitch Ice Climbing

    After your trip/course you could add-on a multi-pitch single day 1:1 ice climbing ascent with your guide. Depending on your skill level, there is a range of excellent options within a couple of hours walk near Queenstown.

    Have a camera man join your trip and document the entire thing! Choose from a variety of options for different budgets. You could have a full-colour book and short film, or a full documentary for television. Your trip is the trip of a lifetime; why not keep it to show your friends and family

    Let us take the hassle out of buying new gear. We can sort all of your equipment requirements for you from head to toe with specific personal purchases that will leave you with all of the best gear on the mountain.

    Your friends or family may wish to join you on your holiday but don't like the idea of heading into the backcountry for skiing or ice climbing. Let us know if this is the situation and we will be able to put together an itinerary that keeps them busy while you are up high. There are so many wonderful things to do, so have a chat with us and we will put together the perfect program.

  • FAQ

    • Heli-Accessed Ski Touring

      How does the day work?
      You will need to register the day prior to the trip start date and register for the following day. You will view a helicopter briefing video and a transceiver search video.

      You need to arrive at the Adventure Consultants Office (corner of Brownston and Russell Streets, Wanaka) at 7.45am. Your guide will check your equipment to ensure it is serviceable as well as your clothing for the day.

      You depart the AC office at 8.00am for the staging area in our transport. We arrive there 8.30am and the helicopter will pick us up soon after. We land on a summit, then ski as far down the run as the guide deems appropriate. Then you will attach the skins to your skis, put your bindings into walk mode, and 'skin’ back up the hill.

      The length of each climb varies, but generally, you will climb back up for 30-45 minutes each run. That will give you around 200-250m of ascent/descent each time. We travel at a leisurely pace so as not to over tire ourselves so we have energy enough to enjoy the next few runs.

      We will stop for lunch to enjoy the views, and your guide will take the time to stop to discuss touring techniques and help you become a great ski tourer!

      At the end of the day, the helicopter will come back in to pick us up and deliver us back to the staging area. You can expect to be back in Wanaka around 4.00pm.

      It is important to note that the focus of the day is to enjoy the skiing and being in the mountains. If you are a group of four fit go-getter the guide would be happy to do more runs with you than a standard group might expect.

      How long is each run?
      The length of run will depend on the features of the terrain on the mountain we are skiing. Some terrain lends itself to shorter runs while in other terrain it will be better to take longer runs so we can gain optimum enjoyment of the natural features. At other times it will depend on snow quality. We will be wanting to ski the best quality snow we can find and sometimes that is in limited areas in which case we’d prioritise specific slopes aspects and orientations.

      What happens if I get tired?
      We can finish the activity and wait for the first opportunity to fly out, or if others want to keep skiing you can wait out a run or two.

      How much water shall I bring?
      During winter when it's cold (July/early August) you may only drink 1 litre each day, but in spring when it's hot you'll want at least 2 litres.

      What's for lunch?
      We provide a sandwich and 2 bars each day. If you're a big eater or have strict dietary requirements and feel you need more then please bring some extra snacks or food.

    • Clothing & Equipment

      What equipment will I need?
      You will be provided with an equipment list when you register.

      Will I be cold? What layers should I wear?
      When touring you are generally outputting more energy and will end up quite hot so a thin base layer and a light windproof shell will suit hot blooded people while those who feel the cold more can add another thermal layer.

      Initially, you can wear an extra thermal layer that you would put in your pack on the first time skinning back up the mountain unless it is an especially cold day.

      Light gloves and a sun hat protect you for skinning when it’s hot. Of course, bring sunblock to lather up with.

      What ski touring equipment will I need?
      You will need specialist ski touring equipment which includes skis with touring bindings, stick on skins, ski crampons (if you have them), ski touring boots (preferable to normal ski boots because of their walk mode). There are rental options available in Wanaka.

      How do I get touring gear?
      Touring gear is available for rent and purchase at MT Outdoors in Wanaka or Small Planet in Queenstown.

      What about transceiver, shovel and probe?
      First Tracks Wanaka will provide those for you.

    • Fees & Payments

      Can I pay by credit card?
      Yes, you can pay at our office by credit card (Visa, Mastercard or Amex), EFTPOS or NZ cash.

      What is included in the cost of my trip?
      Each specific trip page on the website has a section with exactly what is and what is not included on the trip.

      Why are you sometimes more expensive than other operators?
      Many of our trips are very similar in price to our competitors. Some companies even wait for us to set our prices and use ours as a guideline!! Some of our main selling points, which sometimes do cost more, are; internationally qualified guides, small group sizes and safe client: guide ratios, and quality equipment among other things. You do get what you pay for which is why we stand out from the rest. Many clients come to us after failing on one of our competitors ‘cheaper’ trips.

      How do I sign up for a trip?
      The best way to reserve your space on a trip is to call or email our office. Phone our New Zealand head office on +643 443 8711 (Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 5:30pm PST + 19 hours) or Freephone 1-866-757-8722 from North America, or contact us via email.

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Suze Kelly dude skiing

Very professional but balanced by a relaxed "Kiwi" style that made the trip very enjoyable.
Backcountry Ski Course 2017

Glenn Vile
IMG 2427

Ac were recommended as one of the two best providers in NZ by a friend who has been here, so I contacted both to ask questions and AC were very responsive and helpful. AC are professional but still laid-back.
Backcountry Ski Course 2017

Tamyka Bell