When Donna Williams met expert helicopter pilot Dennis Young she was scared of heights. Thinking this disparity meant their relationship might never get off the ground, literally or otherwise, she confronted her vertigo and flew with him. “Before that flight I wouldn’t have even got up on a garage roof,” she says.
It obviously did the trick though, as Williams is now a converted helicopter fan, and the couple enjoy an adventure-filled life as directors of Kapiti Heliworx, which was born in 2012 after three years in development.
The thriving business, based at Paraparaumu’s Lindale Tourist Complex, offers a range of safe yet exhilarating services, including scenic flights, Tararua drop-offs for trampers, hunters and mountain bikers, wedding flights, photography trips, picnics and special occasions, and some commercial operations.
Now, in a first for Kapiti’s flourishing tourism market, Heliworx has put together a unique package in collaboration with some of the district’s best-known attractions. The Kapiti Coast Experience is a day excursion beginning with transfers from Wellington to Kapiti on Tranzit Coachlines. First, visitors get the chance to experience a Heliworx scenic flight over Kapiti Island, with commentary provided alongside accessibility that Williams says is not possible to achieve any other way.
“It’s a different world up there,” she says. “The island was formed 200 million years ago, and the huge abundance of native growth and birdlife offers some of the best vistas in New Zealand.” The nature and conservation theme is continued with a visit to Waikanae’s Nga Manu Nature Reserve, offering the opportunity to get up close and personal with native creatures, including eels that can be fed by hand.
If all that activity generates a thirst, says Williams, a behind-the-scenes tour of the famous Tuatara Brewery with tastings and nibbles will soon put that right. Last but not least is a visit to Southwards Car Museum, which houses the largest private car collection in the southern hemisphere.
Priced at $295 per person, the package is flexible and designed for groups, with the order in which the attractions are visited tailored to suit. “You can even arrive at Nga Manu or Southwards in the chopper,” says Williams. “The excursion is great for tourists, corporate conferences, team-building days or people out for a special occasion. And the coach transfer means they don’t even have to worry about making their own way out to Kapiti.”
Putting together so many of Kapiti’s best offerings into a single package as streamlined as the sleek, gleaming helicopter sitting on its launch pad at Lindale seems to be a tourism master stroke on Williams’s part, and if the light in the eyes of the former vertigo-sufferer as she looks at the waiting machine is anything to go by, this really is the way to travel.
91 Main North Road
Lindale Tourist Complex
0508 435 496[/info]