Have you ever wondered what it is like to fly? Want to feel nothing but the air beneath you and the wind taking you on a journey? If your answer is yes, you may try Paragliding or Hang Gliding, which will make you soar majestically through the skies like an eagle.
Tandem hang gliding or paragliding is one of the best adventure activities you can experience while visiting Queenstown. Set on the shores of the crystal-clear Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by dramatic mountain ranges, the natural beauty of Queenstown is the perfect backdrop for this adventurous and thrilling experience. You can fly all year round! Feel the thrill of soaring gracefully through the sky as you get truly epic views of one of the most scenic places in the world.
Paragliding is the recreational and competitive adventure sport of flying paragliders: lightweight, free-flying, foot-launched glider aircraft with no rigid primary structure. The pilot sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing. Wing shape is maintained by the suspension lines, the pressure of air entering vents in the front of the wing, and the aerodynamic forces of the air flowing over the outside.
Despite not using an engine, paraglider flights can last many hours and cover many hundreds of kilometres, though flights of one to two hours and covering some tens of kilometres are more the norm. By skillful exploitation of sources of lift, the pilot may gain height, often climbing to altitudes of a few thousand metres.
2. Hang Gliding
Hang gliding is an air sport or recreational activity in which a pilot flies a light, non-motorised foot-launched heavier-than-air aircraft called a hang glider. Most modern hang gliders are made of an aluminium alloy or composite frame covered with synthetic sailcloth to form a wing. Typically the pilot is in a harness suspended from the airframe, and controls the aircraft by shifting body weight in opposition to a control frame.
Early hang gliders had a low lift-to-drag ratio, so pilots were restricted to gliding down small hills. By the 1980s this ratio significantly improved, and since then pilots can soar for hours, gain thousands of feet of altitude in thermalupdrafts, perform aerobatics, and glide cross-country for hundreds of kilometers.
Where to Paragliding or Hang Gliding
There are 2 main spots to paraglide in Queenstown!
Overlooking Queenstown Skyline Queenstown is a morning site, often coming on before 10 am with a tendency to get blown out in the afternoon by the sea breeze. You’ll fly with the largest and most experienced paragliding company in New Zealand – G-Force Paragliding. The flying is popular as the centre of commercial tandem activity due to its proximity to Queenstown Airport, its 600m height difference and ease of access by Gondola. You’ll take off from the top of the Skyline Gondola and enjoy the ultimate flight with spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu, the mountains, forests and Queenstown itself.
Getting there: Skyline is located at Skyline Gondola, 53 Brecon St, Queenstown 9348, New Zealand. Check-in at the meeting point at your scheduled departure time. Please allow yourself sufficient time to ride the Skyline Gondola up to the meeting point. When you arrive at the top of the Skyline Gondola, follow the signs for GFORCE Paragliding.
2. Coronet Peak
Coronet Peak is the highest paragliding spot of the Otago, at only twenty-five minutes from Queenstown. It is a commercial skifield in Queenstown, located seven kilometres west of Arrowtown. The Peak is one of New Zealand’s most popular ski resorts because of its proximity to Queenstown, varied terrain and quality facilities. The view from the skifield south across Lake Wakatipu and the smaller nearby Lake Hayes is a further contributor to the mountain’s success. Coronet Peak has extensive snowmaking and receives about 2 m of snow per year.
In summer you can choose to either hang glide or paraglide from the top of Coronet’s Peak, New Zealand’s highest commercial launch site. You’ll fly for up to 20 minutes and there are multiple departure times throughout the day. In winter, you can choose to paraglide from the top of Coronet Peak ski field. Or choose an aero-tow hang glide and fly over Central Otago for up to 20 minutes, available all-year round. For the more adventurous you may give your tandem guide permission to really get the adrenaline going, with various twists and spins during your descent.
Getting there: You will need to meet at Skytrek Shop, 26B Shotover Street, Queenstown. A complimentary shuttle will take you from the Skytrek Shop to the start point.
New Zealand has a variable maritime climate and you can sometimes experience summer and winter in the same day. It pays to come prepared for all seasons no matter what time of year you decide to visit. Please click here to see a very good list of weather links. You can also visit live weather sites used by pilots (select Otago region for Queenstown weather stations): howwindy.com.
Paragliding is suitable for mountain flying in low-wind conditions, and is best suited to thermally active areas or coastal locations where a sea-breeze is prevalent. If you are new to paragliding in New Zealand, special instruction will be given and you can take a tandem flight with an experienced instructor.
When you try paragliding, the smooth take-off will surprise you for the first time. It seems perfectly natural, with nothing in common with the adrenaline rushes during skydiving or bungee jumping. A few seconds after leaving the ground, you will be seated comfortably and the monitor will take care of all the maneuvers. If it is not as fast as hang-gliding, paragliding allows to move at a speed between 25 and 38 hm/h. If the weather conditions are good, the monitor will let you even perform some simple maneuvers, such as changes of direction. Landing is often feared by beginners, but this maneuver presents no difficulty in tandem. When the time comes, you will land in a field, after a peaceful descending to the vertical.
Hang gliding in a prone position, side by side with one of many highly experienced pilots, you will be harnessed to a modern hang glider where you can feel the thrill of natural flight. The instructional hang gliding product is for those that would like to learn a little bit more about hang gliding and have a hands-on experience to fly the glider themselves! Or you may try Aero-tow, a specially designed tow plane called a “tug” tows the tandem hang glider into the air until it is borne aloft. Aero-towing is superior to hill launching in that it can take the hang glider as high as desired and can release it at any point.