Jessie Trizano, a friend of Indagare, recently returned from the Lodge at Minaret Station with her family. Here are her impressions from the trip.
Although just a short helicopter ride from Queenstown, the Lodge at Minaret Station feels like a world all its own. Nestled between two glacial valleys and located on rugged, coastal farmland, the property is extremely remote, set on 65,000 acres of Fiordland on New Zealand’s north coast.
To understand the magic of Minaret Station, one must know the story of the Wallis family. Tim Wallis, who was knighted Sir Timothy Wallis in 1994, is a New Zealand–born businessman, entrepreneur and aviation expert. Fondly known as ‘Hurricane Tim,’ he pioneered the use of helicopters for the country’s deer recovery industry, conservation programs and backcountry access. In addition to his helicopter initiatives, Tim dreamt of opening a lodge that would allow visitors to experience New Zealand’s spectacular natural landscape and diverse wildlife. In 1995, the Wallis family bought the Minaret Station farmland and in 2010, the Lodge at Minaret Station—which has since received national acclaim—opened. Today, Tim and his four sons manage the property, which is completely self-sustainable and includes a working farm. The Wallis family has earned a true legacy in Queensland and their reputation precedes them; when my family and I were in Queensland prior to our visit to Minaret Station, many locals spoke fondly of ‘the Wallis boys’.
Upon arrival at the property, the helicopter pilot (one of the famous brothers) escorted us to the main lodge where we received a warm welcome and were immediately invited to dinner. Within minutes, the chef was preparing a variety of delicacies that we enjoyed accompanied by glasses of New Zealand Pinot Noir. We sat around the table with Matt Wallis, the general manager, and discussed the days ahead. With only four chalets on property, we were the only guests and felt we had been adopted into the Wallis family.
While at Minaret Station, we spent an unforgettable four days hiking through remote valleys, horseback riding at the local farm and taking plenty of helicopter rides (one trip was to the Fjordland National Park, which offered spectacular views of the Milford Sound). There, we touched down atop a glacier and found ourselves to be the only ones in sight.
On the return trip, my family and I enjoyed a wood-fire cooked lunch while sipping Champagne on a mountain peak. Sitting on top of the world and sharing a meal with Matt Wallis and his crew, I finally understood what ‘the Wallis boys’ really dreamt of when they opened Minaret Station. A visit to the Lodge is not only a once-in-a-lifetime New Zealand adventure, but an opportunity to become part of a truly special family.
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