Learn­ing to fly

Brid­get Th can’t fly but she finds para­sail­ing in the Bay of Is­lands is the next best thing.

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Soar above the wa­ter para­sail­ing in the Bay of Is­lands

Ask me what su­per­hero su­per strength I would like to have given the chance and I would tell you it would be the abil­ity to fly.

I spent many child­hood hol­i­days jump­ing off rocks into blue lakes and seas. I have been launched off cliff tops in a hang-glider and thrown my­self out of a plane sky div­ing, but the thought of do­ing a bungee-jump has strangely al­ways ter­ri­fied me - so I went on a mis­sion to find what could pos­si­bly be the next fix for this ad­ven­ture seeker.

I live in the beau­ti­ful Bay of Is­lands, which is a scenic three hour drive or 35 minute flight north of Auck­land. The Bay of Is­lands has 144 is­lands be­tween Cape Brett and the Pure­rua Peninsula. The Bay of Is­lands is sim­ply beau­ti­ful. It is well known as a mar­itime ad­ven­ture play­ground with an abun­dance of marine wildlife, in­clud­ing pen­guins, dol­phins, mar­lin, whales and much more.

There are many land-based tours and boat trips out to the is­lands but I re­ally wanted to see it from the air. What I needed to find was a com­pany that had some­thing that ac­com­mo­dated my con­ser­va­tive bud­get.

I had heard many good re­views about para­sail­ing pro­vid­ing a high-fly­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of a life­time, so I gave the guys at Bay of Is­lands Para­sail a call. They are a 100 per cent fam­ily and Kiwi-owned business, of­fer­ing the chance to para­sail at 1200 feet high. They are the only com­pany that of­fers para­sail out among the is­lands and of­fer solo, tan­dem or triple para­sail flights with 360 de­gree aerial views. You could even be lucky enough to see dol­phins be­low you.

First up, when you ar­rive at their dock on the Pai­hia Wharf, you are given a boat safety brief­ing once on board the para­sail boat. As you mo­tor out into the bay, the crew will kit you out in hel­mets, life jack­ets and para­sail­ing har­nesses. They’ll ex­plain how they work and fit best for com­fort. Once at the flight zone, you’ll get a fi­nal brief­ing about the para­sail­ing pro­ce­dures and safety, then the first fly­ers are ready to go.

As the boat ac­cel­er­ates, the para­sail lifts you off the launch­ing deck and into the air. Once air­borne, the tow­line is slowly re­leased by winch and you’ll soar into the air, high above the wa­ter. Af­ter a few min­utes you’ll be at max­i­mum al­ti­tude, so you can take in the amaz­ing views over the Bay of Is­lands. When it’s time to de­scend again, they will slowly bring you back to the boat to land gen­tly on the deck – with­out even get­ting your feet wet!

The boat can carry up to 13 pas­sen­gers and it usu­ally takes around an hour to com­plete the trip. When you’re not in the air, there’s plenty of op­por­tu­nity to en­joy the ride and take loads of pho­tos of friends, fam­ily and oth­ers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the thrill of para­sail­ing.

You can tell straight away that Glen and his crew are re­ally pas­sion­ate about the Bay of Is­lands and love to share this spe­cial place with vis­i­tors from around the world.

Glen has a wealth of knowl­edge and ex­per­tise in the tourism and marine in­dus­tries. He had his own yacht char­ter and sail­ing school business here for nearly 20 years. Glen and his wife Katja have two young girls, the old­est of which loves to go para­sail­ing when­ever she gets the chance to get out on the boat with her Dad.

Para­sail­ing is not the only ser­vice they pro­vide. Bay of Is­lands Para­sail also of­fers cus­tomised Is­land tours and a range of var­i­ous mix and match op­tions. This can in­clude para­sail­ing, is­land tours, plus a trip to the Hole in the Rock. Is­land stopovers can also be added and food and drinks sup­plied if re­quired.

The com­pany’s fast and com­fort­able 31foot boat can take you any­where in the Bay of Is­lands and be­yond. It is ideal for groups, work par­ties, fam­i­lies, stag and hen par­ties, or a cou­ple want­ing a spe­cial per­son­alised ro­man­tic ad­ven­ture. If you tell them what you want, they’ll do their best to make it hap­pen.

Bay of Is­lands Para­sail was an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence. While sus­pended you have enough time in the air to re­ally take in and ex­pe­ri­ence the beau­ti­ful scenery and na­ture around you. You re­ally have the sen­sa­tion of fly­ing.

It is an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence which is suit­able for most ages and cer­tainly ticked an­other box on my bucket list.

Im­age: The serene beauty of the Bay of Is­lands

DID YOU KNOW? Pop­u­la­tion - 4,500 Area - 260 km2 Main rea­son to visit: The is­lands Top at­trac­tions: Wai­tangi Treaty grounds Fun fact: Rus­sell was New Zealand’s first cap­i­tal.

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