It was one of those dream come true phone calls. “Are you free this Friday to go on a scenic flight with Heletranz to Mudbrick Vineyard and Restaurant?” With a clear diary, serendipity provided my answer.
After a compulsory weigh-in at the heliport in Albany, home to a comprehensive fleet of helicopters including several executive Agusta 109s with IFR (instrument flight rules so pax can fly in inclement weather or darkness) – Chief Pilot, Peter did the safety brief and we were off.
Within minutes the helicopter was airborne trailing up over Constellation Drive across Lake Pupuke and shadowing the shores of Takapuna Beach below. Flying over Bean Rock lighthouse near the volcanic rock forms of Rangitoto with Waiheke’s olive groves and beaches in the distance was pinch yourself material. Ten panoramic minutes was all the flight took.
Touchdown near the manicured lavender swathes bordering the gardens of Mudbrick Vineyard felt like Provence with a sublime coastal view. Stepping off the chopper into the ivy-clad brick restaurant under a giant sparkling chandelier was decadence defined. The first-class service did not miss a beat. We feasted like royalty on a three course lunch matched with delicious vintages and a stunning backdrop view of Rangitoto and the Hauraki Gulf. On arrival there was an obligatory glass of Champagne; bite-sized amuse bouche morsels, warm handcrafted bread with a splash of local olive oil, plump freshly shucked Te Matuku Bay oysters, tender Cervena, finished with a generous platter laden with exquisite antipasti, cheeses and housemade chutney.
Co-owner of Heletranz, Sophia Ambler explained that this type of trip was incredibly popular “it’s been really big for special birthdays, romantic proposals and client incentives”. Heletranz has several busy arms to the business beyond “high roller” charters such as heli fishing (particularly in winter), heli golf, heli dining and heli filming. Ambler says they’re the only operation outside of emergency services and oil rigs that offer IVR to 6000feet which has been a hit with high net worth clients who do not blink at paying $2750 an hour for the privilege of having Heletranz on stand-by. One such client spent $200k in 6 days on helicopters alone. It’s no wonder Heletranz is an active member of Virtuoso, the global luxury travel network.
The little excursion felt like a mini break and the ending couldn’t have been better. At the very last impromptu moment, the flight path back to base flew over the CBD near the Sky Tower and over the Harbour Bridge.
What a spectacular way to see out the work week and relax into the weekend!
Words: Sarah Sparks