Rob Young is chairman of Exclusively New Zealand, which provides exquisite customised lifestyle experiences throughout New Zealand. Among the luxury ‘lodges’ he recommends in Queenstown is Azur, highly popular with discerning ‘DINKS’ (double-income-no-kids). The nine identical 760 sq ft villas allow you to lie in bed, or in the oval Englefield bathtub – perhaps with a glass of the welcome wine, a Terrace Heights Estate Sauvignon Blanc – and look through picture windows across icy blue Lake Wakatipu, far beneath you, across to the jugged Remarkables mountains.
Nestled in a northern finger of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is often called the home of extreme sports.
Queenstown, in the South Island of New Zealand, is nestled within the Southern Alps and is bordered by the Fiordland, Aspiring and Westland National Parks.
The Fiordland National park encompasses 10% of New Zealand’s total land mass and is a true Amazon of wilderness.
Nestled in a northern finger of Lake Wakatipu, with soaring mountains behind and all around, this friendly town is often called the home of extreme sports. One of the most exciting is heli-surfing, which I can honestly say combines two of the best experiences you can ever have.
First you take a chartered heli flight in a six-seat Squirrel over glaciers, waterfalls and virgin rain forest to the uninhabited west coast of the Fiordland, where the Tasman Sea brings warm ocean swells upon deserted reefs and beach breaks. With boards tied to the struts of the helicopter, your guide and pilot search the remote coast for the most appropriate wave break that will suit you and your ability. Currents can be strong and your guide will surf with you and advise where to paddle out safely. As a safety precaution, the pilot waits on shore.
You can easily do this on a day trip, returning to your luxury lodge in Queenstown. If you are really adventurous, however, you might want to stay in a back-country hut and really feel back to nature.
On the West Coast, north of Milford Sound there lies a bay, aptly named Big Bay, which is New Zealand’s largest source of Greenstone, which the Maoris call Pounamu: commercial sourcing of the truck-sized boulders of nephrite jade finished in the 1990s and was only ever allowed in this beautiful region via helicopter. As a result the landscape today remains unchanged. It is as wild and as native as any New Zealand national park. Dave Hunter built a hut nestled in a cove on the southern end of the bay in the 1960s while he was deer culling for the government, and it can only be kept here during the lifetime of him and his son. The hut, which can only be reached by helicopter, is made of recycled native timbers with an open fireplace in the center. Your guide cooks dinner on this fire, perhaps steaming fresh lobster – it tastes so good cooked over an open fire. The hut does also have gas and a generator for having hot showers and evening power.
Due to Big Bay’s geography and natural shape there are numerous reefs and sandbars, lending itself to numerous surfing points. Seven surfboards are kept permanently at the hut to cope with any size of swell, from long-boards right through to pin big wave boards, and during the day you can make daily excursions to access any number of waves along the coastline.
Wild deer roam the forests behind the hut and depending on the tide there should be paua, mussels, lobster and fish in abundance in the waters. Truly there doesn’t exist a more remote, consistent surf break in the world. Any wave hunter will be amazed at the adventure of surfing this secret spot.