Happy Birthday to us! This year - believe it or not - Harris Mountains Heli-Ski is proudly celebrating its 40th anniversary! It all began back in 1978 when brave Paul Scaife decided that he wanted to try something completely different. Flying up the mountains with a helicopter to find the most exciting untracked slopes – pretty cool idea aye.
Now let’s be clear, this wasn’t a ‘thing’ in New Zealand at all - but Paul, who grew up on a West Wanaka Station had seen something like this in Canada where heli-skiing all started back in the early 60s. Paul got thinking and made a plan to ensure us Kiwi’s had this incredible opportunity right here on our doorstep.
The mountains were there, the snow was there and enough crazy people to try something like that were willing to give it a go. Paul chartered the first helicopter and took some of his mates to the Harris Mountains. After the first day of shredding powder like never before they came back with a clear idea in mind: Let’s start a heli-skiing company so everyone has the chance to experience what we just did.
Harris Mountains Heli-Ski was born!
The first commercial trips were run in 1979… back then things were a wee bit unconventional. Clients didn’t have to drive to the hangar, they simply got picked up in a park in the middle of downtown Wanaka – top service for this exciting new company.
Although, a lot has changed since the first days – it’s all for the good and contributing to making our trip world class! We’re now using the larger Squirrel helicopters instead of the small Jet Rangers and Hughes 500 aircrafts. Guide training has also developed since the formation of the New Zealand Mountain Guides Association in 1980, and the creation of a Ski Guides training and qualification pathway.
Lastly and most importantly, we get people coming to experience our trip from all over the world for the unique Kiwi heli-skiing experience!
Our latest development was in 2011 when Skyline Enterprises took ownership of HMH and helped enforce a unique combination of local ownership and the resources of a larger tourism infrastructure… which in turn has meant we are able to provide better and more unique trips for all of our guests.
So, who’s keen for Winter to come early? Check out our trips and be a part of our legendary experiences!