Paragliding in Queenstown
For most of us soaring across the sky untethered to the earth is an impossible dream - but with the advent of adventure sports such as paragliding this dream has become a reality. Gliding across the sky in a paraglider harness is the closest any of us will get to experience what it’s like to be a bird in flight.
Visitors to Queenstown can enjoy the wonderful feeling of flight thanks to Fly Paragliding, a local outfit offering tandem paragliding flights with experienced instructors. Prior experience is not required – anyone with a sense of adventure is welcome to go on a paragliding excursion to the skies.
Paragliding flights from Fly Paragliding take off from the picturesque summit of Coronet Peak. A quick chairlift ride to the top and short preflight preparations (where the passenger is suited up and latched on to the harness with the instructor) later, the paraglider takes off into sky. Rather, the instructor takes a running jump off the mountain with the passenger attached to the paraglider harness.
The passenger will experience a range of emotions, starting with an initial burst of exhilaration as the paraglider dives off the mountain and the instructor adjusts the chute controls to gain air, making the paraglider soar ever higher. It is at this point for first-time paragliders that the adrenalin rush and feeling of sheer terror gives way to a sense of calmness and serenity as he or she glides across ski fields and peaceful lakes and rocks of the Wakatipu valley.
At some point the instructor allows the passenger to take control, teaching them the basics of controlling a paraglider in mid-flight. After the passenger learns some basic manoeuvers, the instructor takes control once more for the last leg of the journey. This is where the instructor will perform some of the more advanced acrobatic tricks, twisting and turning in the sky, performing loops in mid-air as the glider comes hurtling down to the ground. The last part of the trip is often compared to being on a roller-coaster ride hundreds of meters above the ground.
Finally, the instructor pilots the glider to the earth's surface and the trip ends with paraglider and its inhabitants making a gentle landing on the ground, feet first. The experience will leave even the most jaded adventure sport junkie buzzing for weeks. The sensation of self-powered flight is not something that can be easily topped, and will last with the first-time paraglider for the rest of his or her life.