New Zealand’s Southern Alps are pristine and remote; like nowhere you’ve ever shredded before. It’s a surreal experience being charted to the very top of the mountains via your own personal helicopter before carving through the freshest powder imaginable, surrounded by the most mind-blowing views. It’s certainly an occurrence very few get to encounter. We recently sent the Burton snowboard team, along with our pal Vaughan Brookfield, up the mountain to capture the full NZ backcountry experience! If this doesn’t get you excited to hit the slopes this Winter, nothing will! Enjoy our latest Corona Journey by Vaughan Brookfield.
CORONA JOURNEY NO.35 – BACKCOUNTRY ESCAPE by VAUGHAN BROOKFIELD
New Zealand’s ski fields have been so dry the last few months that the fish are knocking on the door asking for a drink of water. It’s been one of those typical winters where it snows like crazy, then when the ski hills open it rains like hell. Luckily for us we had our first true winter storm come through last week that blanketed the surrounding hills with the fluffy white stuff, and we got the call up from our mates at Corona that there was a heli ready to give us a bump out of Wanaka.
Going helishredding in New Zealand is pretty damn dreamy. We have some amazing scenery around New Zealand, and if you happen to be flying out of Wanaka towards the Southern Alps, then you have hit the jackpot. We got the call up from Southern Lakes Heliski on Saturday that the storm was clearing, and we would fly out Monday morning. Not a bad way to start the week, I thought.
The crew consisted of a bunch of legends from the New Zealand Burton team. Jay Smith, Nick Brown, Ben Comber, Carlos Garcia Knight, myself and James our guide for the day. After a short 15-minute flight over Lake Wanaka, we could see the mountains approaching with Mount Aspiring jutting out of the Southern Alps range in the distance. Everyone was so pumped and eager to get our feet on powder filled slopes.
We unloaded the heli and got the “good as gold” thumbs up from our pilot, and then he was gone. It’s a pretty crazy feeling going from standing at the airport 15 minutes earlier, to being out in the middle of nowhere so far from any form of civilisation.
Nick Brown quickly spotted a natural wind lip that had formed into an almost perfect natural jump, directly below where we had been dropped. I have spent a fair amount of time shooting in the backcountry over the last ten years, and it’s very uncommon to find such an incredible natural hit. The boys were pumped and considering it was one of their first days shredding this winter, they were charging.
We shredded some fun untouched powder gullies that led us down to our pick up zone. After a few laps of hooting and hollering, it was time for a cold one. We clambered aboard our heli and were charted off to a secret hut hidden within the mountain ranges. Corona already had the fire blazing and the beers on ice. It was such a dreamy end to a good day’s shredding with mates. We sat around the fire and had a yak about old times and the epic day we’d just had, while catching the last rays of sun overlooking Lake Wanaka.
Photos and words: Vaughan Brookfield