Destination : New Zealand

New Zealand Mountain Flying

When you are planning your New Zealand Tour, be sure to visit Ruth and Wayne who own and run an aircraft tourism company and Mountain Flying operation out of Wanaka airport in the South Island of New Zealand.  They have both been flying since their teenage years,  are CPL (A) instructors now in their 30’s,and are passionate about offering you the best flying you will  ever  experience in NZ.

I did the Mountain Flying Course with Ruth Presland a few years ago and I can say, with hand on heart, that it was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in an aeroplane – ever.

The landscape she takes you over is simply out of this world but what you’ll take home and remember for a long time is her undisguised passion for flying and her urgent need to hand over to you her life-saving skills. She’ll work on sharpening up your sloppy flying – (“Use the rudder Shelley!!!”) whilst  teaching you techniques to keep you safe and fly intelligently in this most challenging of mountain environments.  She’ll teach you about these mountains and she’ll warn you about the ever-changing weather that can so easily catch you out.

Take-off Branches Station (Pic Mitch Watchorn)Take-off Branches Station (Pic Mitch Watchorn) Ruth & Shelley down-time during mtn flying course (pic Mitch Watchorn)Ruth & Shelley down-time during mtn flying course (pic Mitch Watchorn)

What makes these few days memorable is absorbing Ruth’s deep knowledge of every hill and valley, farmer and farmhouse in this region of  her beautiful South Island. Ruth was born and bred in this Wanaka region and has been flying since sitting on her father’s lap in his old aircraft when she was five.

Here’s Ruth Presland with all the low-down: (but seriously, just DO IT)

“We’re in a privileged position to have access to many remote airstrips, which we can train from.  If you are looking for the skill and challenge that Mountain Flying presents, then we are the ones to contact”.

We run new Tecnam  2-seat  aircraft.  You can fly for just an hour, or choose one of our packages. Days can be designed specifically for you, depending on the length of your stay.

Our rates for 2011 packages are as follows.  Half day is NZ$985 (approx. $740AUD).  This includes 2.5 to 3 hours flying time, access to the most remote and exciting flying playground, morning tea, meeting the locals on the way and an option of a DVD of your Mountain Flying. The video is taken of you flying, together with the scenery,  and is an eight-minute fully edited memory of your experience.  You will learn valley flying in tight ‘V’ shaped valleys,  vastly improve your rudder skills and learn how to land on short grass mountain strips.  Put aside about 4 to 4.5 hours. Perfect if you are only visiting Wanaka for one night.

Over Mt Aspiring (Pic Mitch Watchorn)Over Mt Aspiring (Pic Mitch Watchorn)

The full day package is $1685 (approx. $1265AUD).  This will include a picnic lunch at a high country airstrip and with options of a West Coast experience.  The route can take you through the Southern Alps, a  possible beach landing, depending on the tide and weather, see our pics of Shelley’s beach landing here) and an option to fly over or land at the famous Milford Sound. This is between 5 to 6 hours flying, so allow about 8 hours. A fully edited DVD is also available for the full day trip.  All flying is weather dependant.


Mountain Flying or 'bush' flying is the most enjoyable and rewarding flying you will do, as a licensed pilot, when you visit Lake Wanaka, New Zealand.

So there you go – what are you waiting for?? They also run a tourism flight company called U-FLY Wanaka which caters for people wishing to have a go or just enjoy a scenic flight over the stunning Southern Alps region.

Mountain Flying New Zealand and U-Fly Wanaka are based at 1 Spitfire lane, Wanaka Airport,  Lake Wanaka, NZ.

Phone +64 (0)3 443 4005 and mobile +64 (0)21 483 262.