Photo: Heliskiing drop-off at Mt Potts, helipark
Mt Potts is located in the Rangitata Valley, Canterbury New Zealand, on the South Island. It is a two-hour drive from Christchurch and one hour's drive from Methven.
The original homestead, wool shed and shearer's quarters were transformed into accommodation in 1964. The lodge is now a working cattle farm, restaurant and lodge. In winter, the lodge is opened up as a base for heli-skiing. The Lord of the Rings trilogy was partly filmed in the area (including the city of Edoras at Mt Sunday), and the scenery is some of the most beautiful in New Zealand.
There are very limited transport options to get to Mt Potts and you will likely need a car to get there unless you can get a lift with someone. Mt Potts is located far up in the high country and there is no bus or other public transport option to get there.
In winter, Mt Potts operates Helipark. There are no tows or chairlifts. Instead, all vertical transport is provided by snowcats and helicopter, making Mt Potts one of the more distinctive ski resorts in New Zealand.
Basically, Mt Potts is a huge backcountry area for heli-skiing with 660 hectares of terrain available to riders. Mt Potts is popular with photographers and other free skiers to get those classic New Zealand backcountry shots we see in movies and in print.
At Mt Potts, you get the benefit of in-bound avalanche control, without tracked out runs or crowded lifts or tows. The heli-skiing is also unique in that it is partly self-guided. As the mountain has been avalanche primed, you are able to pick your own lines while the guides are there only as a safety back-up. Nonetheless, you will carry avalanche transceivers in case of an avalanche.
There are multiple peaks on which the helicopter can drop you. There are steeps, drop-offs and chutes as well as several lines down for intermediates. The maximum vertical drop for a run is 800m.
Mt Potts has a very small team of employees. Hiring starts in April each year. Applicants can make an inquiry and submit and application via the contact page on the website. mtpotts.co.nz/contact
International applicants are able to apply so long as they have a New Zealand working visa already. See the Work a Winter Season Season in Zealand for further information on getting a working holiday visa for New Zealand.
Whether staff can get free use of the helicopter or snow cat from time to time will depend on each season and the company that is running the helicopters and snowcats that particular season.
Staff live at Mt Potts, and there is staff accommodation available. The atmosphere is one of a small, tight team that works together. You will know everyone very well by the end of the season!
Photo: Rugged New Zealand Terrain near Mt Potts