Some folks have a massive fear of flying and choose to keep both feet firmly based on terra-firma swearing never to take to the skies. Some experience an immense feeling of exultation once they are soaring in the ether. I am of the latter and have a sense of sorrow for those who have either never experienced flight or choose not to.
The adrenaline spike of tandem skydiving, the mishmash of the rush mixed with the uneasy feeling of aerobatics in a jet fighter. The feel of the wind slamming you in the face in the open cockpit of a Tiger Moth! They are just a few of the marvelous moments I have made sure I have experienced when it comes to things skyward. But there is one form of air transport that blows me away.
Can you guess? It has an ability to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forward, backward, and laterally. Yep, you got it. Helicopter flights are one of my favourites when it comes to getting sky bound and on a recent trip to Queenstown New Zealand I had a bucket-list experience that I didn't even know was on my list!
The ever-attentive staff at The Rees Hotel and Luxury Apartments where I was staying are super helpful and always at the ready to offer you all sorts of unique and breath-taking options when it comes to activities in Queenstown, and they all individually have one that is special to them that they are keen to spruik.
One that immediately caught my attention was a helicopter flight with the gang at Helicopter Line. They have a great relationship with the hotel and seriously these guys have got every possible base covered when it comes to chopper flights! Just think of a word and put Heli in front and they will have you covered. Well just about. Fishing, Biking, Hiking, Wining, Dining, Skiing, Diving, they even offer Heli weddings!
What was offered to me seemed not only too good to be true but something so ostentatious that the mere thought of realising such a treat was hard to comprehend.
So, here's the rub.
I was transferred directly from the hotel to the Helicopter Line base at Queenstown airport and chauffeured onto the waiting chopper, after the standard safety checks and weigh in of course (I just passed). On board were myself and four others, including the pilot and a diver. Any clues yet?
As we took to the air I immediately felt that rush of blood and the exhileration that I relished so much. A loop over the city and the amazing Lake Wakatipu and then we headed west over the Richardson Humbolts, through Hollyford Valley and the Tutuko glacier region.
What a sight they were too; I could not lift my jaw from resting on my lap. Absolutely astounding sights, the kind of sights that never leave you once you had laid your eyes upon it. As the coastline appeared our jovial and super skilled pilot Ben performed some sharp manoeuvres overhead and in between some impressive rocky outcrops before landing on what I soon learned to be Madagascar beach. It reminded me of something you may see in a King Kong movie. Totally isolated with lush vegetation leading to it volcanic like sands which then slipped into the rocky ocean waters.
While Fraser our diver donned his gear, gave us the thumbs up, and slipped into the somewhat stirring sea, we admired the untouched surrounds while sipping a little Veuve. I mean really? This was nearly too good. Not twenty minutes had passed when Fraser launched from the briny with his dive bag alive and flipping, full of tail fans, claws and legs. Yes, indeed a bag full of Crayfish direct from the supplier, mother herself!
Once back at the hotel my prize catch (no I wasn't really taking the credit) was whisked away straight to the kitchen to be fashioned into a culinary delight by head chef Ben Batterbury. To be honest with seafood as fresh as that I would have been happy with the simplest of offerings, char grilled, steamed, with a little garlic, ginger and shallots even just al la natural. I was still high from the whole adventure, hell I may have eaten it raw I was so pumped.
Chef had other ideas and as I sat gazing over the lake to the mountain ranges beyond from my window setting at the luxurious Rees restaurant I would have looked like a Cheshire cat, waiting patiently for his supper.
Then it appeared, what a masterpiece, the perfect combination of delicate Nevis asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, blood orange and fresh herbs. A little side offering of the chefs personal orange dressing and it was a dish to remember.
When you go:
Why not stay at the Rees Hotel and Luxury Apartments? Brilliantly placed into the cliffside overlooking the Frankton Arm of Lake Wakatipu.
Deluxe 5-star hotel rooms and suites or waterside apartment living big enough for the whole family or a gathering of good friends. With its own jetty, for that special arrival by water it has without a doubt one of the best locations in town. The staff, the cuisine and the extensive wine collection are just outstanding and may get the feeling you have found your magical sanctuary.
It is also close enough to Queenstown to enjoy all there is on offer with a free shuttle running making it an easy option. www.therees.co.nz
Make sure you take a spin in one of Helicopter Lines flying marvels. Checkout the website and if you cannot find an escapade that tickles your fancy then I need to get a new job. www.helicopter.co.nz