Wanaka Helicopters is a family-owned flight training school and commercial helicopter operator, offering scenic, commercial, charter, agriculture, and training flights year-round in one of the world’s most breathtaking locations. We are NZ’s premier and most experienced helicopter flight school, operating in Wanaka since 1992. 

We offer a range of both private and commercial helicopter flight training options. If you are looking to complete your Private or Commercial Pilot licence, convert an overseas licence, undertake advanced specialist training, or complete any type ratings or endorsements our experienced team of instructors can help.

Here at Wanaka Helicopters, we take pride in our reputation for excellence and extensive experience. Our team of dedicated flight instructors are committed to your success and each brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to our students training experience.

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A PPL(H) licence enables you to act as pilot in command of a helicopter privately, for non-fare paying passengers.

A minimum of 50 hours total flight time is required for a PPL(H) of which at least 20 hours is flown dual with an instructor and 15 hours is flown solo. The first 15 to 25 hours training covers basic air exercises and generally learning to fly and operate the helicopter. After that you then progress to compulsory advanced exercises which also includes 5 hours mountainous terrain flying and 10 hours of cross country flying (navigation).

We welcome trainees from anywhere in the world for private training. The official global language of aviation is English, so spoken English and comprehension minimum standards apply.

In conjunction with the flight training, six theory exams have to be passed which includes air law, meteorology, navigation, helicopter performance and technology, flight radio and human factors. A spoken English examination is also required to be passed. Private training students undertake self-directed study and schedule their own theory examinations.

Most trainees complete and pass the Private Pilot Flight Test with about 50-60 flight hours experience. This can vary due to such things as frequency of flights, learning ability, age, weather conditions etc. so, if needed, we monitor each trainees progress closely and can personalise a training programme to achieve maximum efficiency. We can arrange Public Trust or a full-time flying schedule (20+ hours per month) to help you achieve your goals as efficiently as possible.


A CPL(H) licence permits you to be pilot in command of a single pilot aircraft, or as co­-pilot of a multi­-pilot aircraft, but the difference between this and the Private Licence is that the CPL(H) is a professional licence and a pilot can be paid for this work.

A minimum of 150 flight hours of training is required, of which 35 hours must be solo flight. Similar flying exercises are covered as in a PPL(H), but to a much higher standard and in a broader range of environmental conditions. In addition, 10 hours of sling (external load) training must be completed.

During the 100 hours required over and above the 50 hour PPL(H) requirement, additional advanced training can be done depending on the student’s ability and progress, in such exercises as advanced mountainous terrain, advanced sling load operations, type ratings and some practical ‘in the field’ operational flying.

Six additional CPLH examinations must be passed with advanced topics in aviation law, meteorology, navigation, helicopter principles of flight, helicopter technology, and human factors.

Trainees find that earning their CPL(H) from Wanaka Helicopters opens doors to employment through our industry reputation and trainees regularly take advantage of instructor references to gain their first position.


We specialise in advanced helicopter flight training and continued training. We have developed NZ’s top Advanced Helicopter Mountain Flying Course and offer highly sought after specialist practical experience. 

View all of our advanced training options below and enquire with our team for more details.

Wanaka Helicopters Diploma Flight Training Mountain Flying