Luxury chopper firm Helicopter Me bosses know some fishing trips don't turn out as expected.

Chief executive and chief pilot Richard Poppelwell said some of the mega-rich can spend tens of thousands of dollars a day and make some challenging demands.

At the firm's new Mechanics Bay base he told of an Arab sheik who two years ago arrived in Auckland in a superyacht and wanted to go fishing at short notice.

Poppelwell said when he asked the superyacht's skipper how many would be in the fishing party he was told: ''just him and 11 bodyguards''.


The firm scrambled several helicopters to fly out to Great Barrier and land on a remote rock.

''They'd caught a couple of kahawai and the sheik comes up to me and says 'I don't want to be here on the rocks - I want to be 30m out looking back at my people. Can you organise that?'.''

Poppelwell explained it would be difficult to charter a yacht at short notice so the Sheik, who he wouldn't identify, asked that he be flown to the ''capital of Great Barrier Island'' for a meal of New Zealand lamb.

Poppelwell thought Waiheke Island would be a better bet so rang several restaurants who came up with lunch.

When there the Sheik — who had six wives and 11 children — tipped all the restaurant staff with a €500 note each, sampled three different wines and bought $18,000 worth of the one he liked best.

''It was a fun day - overall he spent $85,000 just to go fishing and have lunch.''

Poppelwell owns Helicopter Me with his brother, Stuart, a corporate jet pilot who flies an unnamed New Zealand family overseas when they need to.

The brothers grew up in Hastings and always wanted to own an aviation company.

The firm opened a new base at Auckland's Mechanic's Bay after building a heliport at Auckland Airport two years ago and says demand from wealthy Kiwis and overseas visitors is growing.

Their business has grown to a fleet of 12 helicopters, which range from six to nine seats.

There is a core crew of eight pilots, supplemented during summer, and maintenance is done by Airbus in Ardmore.

They are individually or syndicate-owned, and Helicopter Me manages the choppers on behalf of the owners and fly them to when and where they want in addition to flying for other clients.

Poppelwell said the there was a 50/50 split with tourism clients, including New Zealanders, and international visitors coming for business.

They fly to lodges, factories, farms, industrial sites.

''I couldn't tell you how many deals have been closed in the back seat of a helicopter as we've been flying along,'' said Poppelwell.

Holiday road traffic congestion was also good for business. Kiwis would fly to holiday homes in the Bay of Islands or the Coromandel to avoid traffic jams.

New Zealand has a high rate of helicopter ownership (close to 900 are registered) largely because of its rugged terrain and the difficulty in getting places quickly by road.

The firm owns the building at Mechanics Bay shared with Police, the Coastguard and Mikano Restaurant, which has a view straight out to the start of one of the America's Cup courses.

Helicopter Me is seeking permission to build a small wharf off the landing pad for tenders from superyachts to berth.

It's already getting business from the Cup, scheduled for 2021. Poppelwell said the big sponsors were looking to relocate here for several months of the regatta.

''We've had quite a few scouts come through - they fly over the course but are looking for high end properties to entertain them (sponsors) - where they can take them where can they entertain them.''