Helicopter Fly Fishing Expeditions
Helicopter fly fishing is about providing access into the headwaters of remote rivers of New Zealand. Test your skills against cunning foe in the most amazing places. All of these stunning waters accessed by helicopter fly fishing are different and offer varied experiences for the angler.
Using a helicopter to gain access to remote fly fishing locations in New Zealand is an awesome experience and not just for the fly fishing alone. Flying out of the designated pick up point and heading deep into the Alps of New Zealand admiring the awesome scenery is quite wonderful in itself. Knowing you are flying to a remote river that would take days to walk into that hold big brown or rainbow trout (possibly both) that haven’t seen the pressure of rivers that are much more easily accessible can be quite inspiring for many fisherman. Some of the truly most remote rivers haven’t seen a fisherman all season or even possibly last season!
Weather is one of the big factors throughout NZ of choosing on any day which location is going to best suit the angler’s desires and abilities for helicopter fly fishing. Some days you just can’t fly (very rare) and it’s back to the 4WD.
Some water ways have higher numbers of trout around 4 – 6 lbs, a good few in the 7 -9 lbs range with the odd really big one going over 10 lbs. Due to the nature of heli-fishing this gives good opportunities for most anglers to hook up.
Where trout numbers are lower often the size of the fish is bigger. Some of the most remote locations have very small numbers of trout but they are usually hogs that migrate from chasing whitebait to slamming cicadas and hitting whatever else they come upon during their travels, including mice. The skill level of the fisherman needs to be quite high as one wrong movement or cast can upset the apple cart massively in these special places.
So if you want to go helicopter fly fishing here’s how the costs work.
Cost of the helicopter per hour x the flying time + any landing fees.
Huges 500 Seating pilot + 3 Per Hour Cost NZD 1700.00 (approx)
Eurocopter Squirrel Seating pilot +6 Per Hour Cost NZD 2200.00 (approx)
NB. The above costs are approximate and are subject to change due to fuel costs and different helicopter providers at any time!
Landing fees vary on the location but are usually between NZD 15.00 per head and 50.00 per head or sometimes based on landings.
Right, to the nuts and bolts. We will choose the Hughes 500 (many pilots consider them the Ferrari of the helicopter world) for a drop off/pick up heli fishing expedition to river X.
Hughes 500 @ NZD 1700.00
Flight Time 1.3 hours
Landing fees NZD 50.00
Total Cost would be (excluding guides fee) NZD 2260.00
I have found over the years (like almost any style of fly fishing) the most important factor in deciding when and where to go helicopter fly fishing is based on what the weather is doing. NZ and particularly the South Island has very fast moving and changeable weather patterns. Pre-determining which day to take a helicopter and which river to go to can be a recipe for being blown off the water.
Clients who wish to book a one off, day helicopter fly fishing expedition or include a day helicopter fly fishing during a multi day expedition should be aware that a higher budget will allow us to fish the more remote rivers. On the actual day dependent on the weather conditions we might end up using less flying time (not flying to so remote areas – but back country rivers closer to our departure area). This allows us to work around weather issues and get you to the best fishing on the day.
I get my clients to pay on the day for heli portion of the fishing expedition so you only get charged for what we actually use.
Many times the plan has been to go helicopter fly fishing on remote river X but due to wind or other weather issues we have reverted to river Y which is protected from the wind, offers a different heli fishing experience than the original plan and costs less in flying time.
I use a number of different helicopter operators (all extremely professional and with great safety records) depending on where we are based, where we want to go and what machinery is available at the time.
It is no problem to book a helicopter the day before (or even the morning of) during an expedition. It is best that I know prior (when booking with me) that you would like to try to include a helicopter fly fishing excursion on your expedition whether it is a day trip or a multi day expedition. If, on the day the conditions are just not suitable to fly we will revert to the good old 4WD!
I offer multi day helicopter fly fishing expeditions where we stay in a hut or tent overnight – these are still a drop off pick/up trip but can involve 2+ days fishing into a remote river. These expeditions incur additional expense due to the additional food and accommodation requirements. Check out my Camp Outs.
For those that want the helicopter fly fishing experience of a life time, chartering a helicopter for the day may be an option you wish to consider. This means we keep the machine for the day and can fish multiple rivers. You also have a good look around the amazing country side of NZ’s South Island. The basic requirement for this is to pay a minimum of 2 hours flying time + any landing fees. As the day goes on and you are getting close to the 2 hrs flying time we will advise you and you can then choose to keep going and pay the extra or finish the day within the 2 hours flying time. These expeditions are absolutely stunning and allow for non fishing partners to come and enjoy the day with you.
For those on a smaller budget check out the Eastern Rivers Heli fishing trips.