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I had just finished an interview with a large US-based mountain biking blog and mountain biking magazine. During the interview, we discussed our Heli-biking trips. My interviewer understood the concept but had little experience of heli-biking in the Northern Hemisphere. I invited her on the next available trip.
Our group of 5 meet early at the Wanaka Airport outside the hangars and head office of our partners Alpine Helicopters.
We all had to get weighted which caused a few giggles, we had the health and safety briefing and watched as our bikes were loaded onto the specially built bike outriggers.
Several of the group had never ridden in a helicopter before so over the headphones there was a lot of excitement and ‘Oh’s’ and ‘Ahs”. Our pilot took us low up the side of the Pisa Range, hugging the gentle slopes we watched the vegetation change as we go higher. Just a mere 15 minutes later we were hovering at the summit and setting down. A quick series of photos with the chopper and then he was off.
The first thing the guide Tim pointed out was the silence… it was as they say deafening. The 360 degree views down into Lake Wanaka and up to Mt Aspiring and around into Cardrona Skifield and Luggate were pretty special.
The vegetation was sparce at this height, licen and moss and the odd tussock .
After another safety briefing and instructions about the animals we were likely to see on the way down, from domestic sheep and Cattle to wild deer, pig and goat, a of course hundreds of rabbits. Then we were off.
The rides are self paced with guide riding safety at the rear to pick up any damage.
The tracks are all rutted farm trails, that get heavily worn and deep after heavy rains. These are not particularly technical but definitely catch you out if you aren’t paying attention… as I found out not once but 4 times, much to the amusement of some from our elderly riding group.
The trail is 25km of downhill but be warned there are still a few lung buster hills to keep you warm!
Opportunities to stop and take photos are at every corner, hill and rock formation.
If you are a hard charger that wants to smash bike parks and hit massive jumps then this is probably not the trip to book, (try our multi-day bike park explorer). This is for the intermediate riding that wants to get high in the mountains, enjoys a fantastic ride wants to experience some incredible scenery. This is a highly recommended trip, our journalist was a highly experienced rider and was gushing positively about the experience.
By the bottom of the trail we were mates and all enjoying ourselves. Full suspension bikes are available to hire but a good hard tail is probably all you need.
Forward booking are essential.