For 88-year-old Christof Wieser and his wife, Britta, skiing is like dancing.
The Austrian couple are well known for their perfect “figure eight” ski turns, with Christoff following Britta, 78, down in a mirror image of her run to form the tracks in the snow.
For more than two decades, the Wiesers have gone to Methven each year to make the most of the fresh powder only a helicopter can access.
Though age has slowed them down, they still get in the chopper and head to the mountains every chance they get.
Britta said they were more selective about when they headed out, and went for less time, but they have still racked up 17 days since arriving in late June.
The couple have been married for 54 years, but Britta has never got Christof to dance with her.
“So we decided, OK, we’ll do figure eights – and that’s our dancing,” she said.
“One time we were flying home from New Zealand, we were flying over these mountains here and we look down, and look – figure eights here, figure eights here, figure eights here. It was very funny,” Christof said.
Christof, who holds a Guinness World Record as the world’s oldest heliskier, first took to the slopes when he was 28. He does not say much, but gets around on his own and has a firm handshake.
The couple have travelled to ski places such as Russia, Canada, India and Greenland. They go to the Himalayas to heliski every year.
One of the reasons the couple keep going back to Methven is their relationship with Kevin Boekholt, the Heliski Methven managing director.
They first met Boekholt in British Columbia, Canada in 1992. The Wiesers were heliskiing and Boekholt was guiding. He invited them to New Zealand and they have each year since.
“We just decided to come to Kevin because he has this vast, vast area and he can offer so much,” Britta said.
She did not feel heliskiing at their age was a risk, as they only rode suitable terrain when the conditions were perfect. She said skiing was easier than walking for them.
Boekholt said the Wiesers went out in a helicopter to themselves, with a skilled senior guide who could pick the perfect terrain and snow for them.
“It’s almost like an art to be able to take them skiing.”
He said they would not take just anyone that age into the mountains.
“We’ve been guiding these people for 24 years, day in day out, so we do know them and we’ve put quite strict restraints on them.”
Britta said the pair hoped to return to celebrate Christof’s 90th birthday next September.
“But of course, you never know now. You just have to take it as it comes.”