Private & Commercial Helicopter Training & Private License


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.

For more information you can download our Training Prospectus or head to our Diploma of Aviation page.


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

This requires a minimum of 50 hours of flight training of which at least 20 hours is flown dual with an instructor and 15 hours flown solo. Your first 15 to 25 hours of training covers basic air exercises and generally learning to operate the helicopter before you can complete your ‘first solo’ flight. After a few hours spent flying on your own to get comfortable you will progress to compulsory advanced exercises including 5 hours mountainous terrain flights and 10 hours of cross-country (navigation) flying.

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.

In addition to our online learning resources our staff will help you identify materials students can purchase to prepare or provide guidance for study techniques to be the best pilot you can be. Navigating the regulatory environment can be a challenge but we stand by our trainees, helping guide them through each stage culminating in an official log book review and flight test with an examiner.

Every trainee and training schedule is different, but we pride ourselves on a high flight test success rate for trainees with 50-60 flight hours of consistent experience. Age and training flight frequency are important components for success so we support a personalised approach to training programme design.

Wanaka Helicopter can arrange a Public Trust or full-time flying schedule (20+ hours per month) to help you achieve your goals most efficiently.

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


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.


Wanaka Helicopter instructors and examiners help licenced pilots keep their skills sharp, up-to-date, and meet compliance requirements.

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 Training West Coast Beach Flyover