Insights into Heli-skiing with Southern Lakes Heliski in August
August is the most popular heliskiing month for Southern Lakes Heliski. The combo of a solid snow base created in July and regular snow dumps in August, make it an ideal time to be heliskiing. The runs are long and the snow pristine.
Last year in early August, temperatures plummeted and Queenstown had snow down to lake level (330m). The next fine day, guests got to enjoy nearly half a metre of fresh powder which covered SLH's extensive backcountry terrain. Cold temperatures then preserved the snow and kept it dry which meant for the next week there were fresh tracks to be enjoyed every day. This was the cherry on the top for powder hunters, who had been getting great snow on the ski fields all week and were still keen to get more fresh lines.
Queenstown and Wanaka are unique to other places in New Zealand as cold winter weather often produces consistent bluebird days. This increases a number of days that SLH can heliski with the average being at least 4 a week. The West Coast of the South Island gets hit by the majority of storms so even though locally it may not snow, there is still regular fresh top ups of powder in the backcountry. It means it's always a powder day when you have a helicopter to access it!
Obviously, it is always hard to predict but the weather experts are saying there is a moderate chance of an El Nino developing for our 2017 Winter. This is excellent news for New Zealand, especially places like Queenstown or Wanaka, as it means regular Southerly storms resulting in big dumps of very dry powder.
We at Southern Lakes Heliski are excited and I’m sure all you snow lovers are too! Look forward to seeing you out there in the mountains for yet another snowy winter.