New Auckland chopper base for rich travellers

Kauri Cliffs luxury lodge is a popular destination for luxury tourists. Photo / File
Kauri Cliffs luxury lodge is a popular destination for luxury tourists. Photo / File

A new heliport is being built at Auckland Airport to cater for the growing luxury tourist market.

The new terminal and hangar is due to open in November for passengers who can spend up to tens of thousands of dollars on flights.

The new port will be built, owned and managed by operator Helicopter Me, and will cater for the airport's growing number of affluent and adventure-seeking passengers.

The luxury tourism market is a priority for government-funded initiatives overseas.

Operations manager Stuart Poppelwell said about half the passengers were New Zealanders and the rest were from overseass including just about any of the ''rich and famous'' who had passed through the country.

Trips started with a $199 eight-minute hop to Mechanics Bay in Auckland to multi-day flights around New Zealand.

The country's top golf courses such as Kauri Cliffs, Wairakei and Cape Kidnappers were popular destinations.

Helicopter Me operates choppers ranging from three seats to nine seats. The company has 10 choppers in its fleet.

Auckland Airport's acting general manager - aeronautical operations, Anil Varma, said the helicopter terminal was a timely addition to the services provided at the airport.

"Our international passenger numbers continue to rise, up 8 per cent in the last financial year to just under nine million. This has led to an increase in the number of high-spending tourists wanting to connect quickly to their luxury holiday destinations."

"The new helicopter terminal will also provide international and New Zealand tourists with greater choice when it comes to heading out for a scenic flight, lunch or a wine tour while visiting Auckland."

It is located 200m from the international terminal.

Helicopter Me's chief executive Richard Poppelwell said the heliport would have immediate benefits for the New Zealand tourism industry.

"The enhanced helicopter service will provide a seamless travel service, essentially enabling international travellers to fly directly from their port of origin to their end destination, be it a lodge, golf course, island or even the city centre just eight minutes away. ''

The new hangar will also allow helicopters to be based at Auckland Airport for the first time, rather than being specifically flown in for every booking.

- NZ Herald

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