Whare Kea ChaletFrom $2,400/night
Located at 1750 metres (5700 feet) in the Albert Burn Saddle on the north side of Dragonfly Peak, Whare Kea Chalet is a 20-minute helicopter flight (35km) from Wanaka Township and sits on the edge of Mount Aspiring National Park with astounding views of Mount Cook and Mount Aspiring with its tumbling glaciers.
The building began in 2004. Finding a site outside Mount Aspiring National Park that was remote, removed from other huts yet still a short helicopter flight away was the first test. No avalanche risks another. Add to that maximising winter sunshine and spectacular views plus access to heli-skiing and ski touring as well as walks and treks – and the prospect might have appeared impossible.
Four months of the year it is covered in snow, and in summer the slopes of tussock grass are dotted with wildflowers and tarns. It’s a spectacular base in which you can enjoy many Chalet Adventures – from scenic helicopter flights, hiking, heli-skiing or simply enjoying the stunning mountainscape.
With two double bedrooms, a spacious loft and a bunk room for staff, the chalet provides comfortable luxury accommodation for up to six guests and two staff. Relaxed yet luxurious, with central heating, power, hot showers and large windows framing incomparable views, it offers a warm welcome after a day in the mountains.
The chalet was designed to have a minimal environmental impact. Martyn, who has an engineering background, conceived the layout, unique external steel structure and the environmentally conscious power and waste systems. The roof holds snow, providing both additional insulation and camouflage in winter; solar cells produce power and bottled propane gas is used for heating and cooking. In 2004 Whare Kea Chalet won the prestigious Relais & Châteaux Environment Design award for excellence.