Standing high on a hill on Minaret Station was no place to be this cold, blustery snow-on-the-way day, but there I was, exhilarated and remarking at the pretty white faces of the lambs being shepherded around us. “They are very good looking sheep,” says Matt Wallis, one of four brothers who own the station, “but we are careful who we say that around.”
It was one of many quips from Matt and his brother Jonathan as they helicoptered me around their 50,000 acre property, which has no road access but enjoys 27km of Wanaka lakefront. Matt’s focus is the hospitality side of the business.
Minaret Station Alpine Lodge nestled 900m above sea level in a valley that stretches to Mt Aspiring, offers guests a typical high country experience. “Nothing is staged” says Matt, “we just want people to be able to share and enjoy what we have here”. From luxury lodgings — there are four chalets nestled around a main lodge — guests can head off by foot or helicopter for adventures including hunting, fishing and heli-skiing or something completely tailor-made.
Helicopters are also part of the brothers’ business and they have the wherewithal to make it happen — day trips down to Stewart Island or up to Kaikoura are not uncommon. Or guests can just relax and enjoy the isolation. “Sitting in a beanbag, glass of wine in hand, looking out at ridges is an experience for some people,” Matt says doubtfully, as you would expect from such a seasoned hunting, shooting, fishing adventurer.
The main lodge is suitably relaxed and informal and we gather at the kitchen hatch, chatting to chef Jeremy Simeon (pictured below) as he cooks our lunch of TE MANA LAMB— the breed farmed on the station and the reason for my visit.
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