The Wanaka Helicopter’s flight training team are passionate about what we do and our special location in the world. We have established ourselves as NZ’s premier and most experienced helicopter flight training school, operating in Wanaka since 1992.

We offer a range of both private and commercial helicopter flight training options. If you are looking to get your Private or Commercial Pilots License, convert an overseas license or complete any type ratings or endorsements our experienced team can help.


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.



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.


Our instructors are experienced in the CAA of NZ rules and training processes for the following pilot licence conversions:


Type Ratings
At Wanaka Helicopters we operate a fleet which includes the following aircraft:
– Robinson R22
– Robinson R44
– Eurocopter AS350 (Squirrel)
– H369D (Hughes 500)
– Guimbal Cabri G

Type Ratings are possible in the above aircraft at short notice and by arrangement in the following:
– Eurocopter EC130 B4
– Eurocopter EC120
– BO 105
– Bell 206 Jet Ranger
– Bell 206 Long Ranger
– Bell 47
– MD520N
– H296 (Hughes 300)
– Robinson R66


Sling Ratings

Many NZ pilots use sling-related skills for both private and commercial work. Wanaka Helicopters offer the full range of sling training (including long-­lining) in several helicopter types.

Many international students come to us to hour build and develop skills in the carriage of sling loads.

We can offer:
– PPL(H) 5 hours of sling training (Sling is not a compulsory element for a PPL(H) licence)
– CPL(H) ­10 hours of sling training (this is a compulsory element for a CPL(H) licence)

Night Ratings
Night ratings are not a compulsory part of the NZ pilot licence, however, we offer night flying training if desired. If you are thinking of undertaking frost protection flying then a night rating is required.

For night operations within 25nm of a lighted heliport or aerodrome these requirements apply:
– PPL(H) ­Two hours simulated instrument followed by 5 hours night training
– CPL(H) ­Two hours simulated instrument followed by 10 hours night training.

Instructor Ratings
Wanaka Helicopters has been training flight instructors since the early 1980’s. We are passionate about flight training and pride ourselves in producing exceptional instructors. We have three instructors who can deliver the 25 hour flying course and associated Helicopter Principles of Flight theory requirement.

Courses are run by arrangement on an individual basis. More information on the requirements for Flight Instructor ratings can be found on the CAA website.