Paragliding In New Zealand: 5 Top Spots

If you’re reading this you’re probably in New Zealand and are interested in going paragliding or would like to go there someday and try it. Either way, your decision to go paragliding in New Zealand cannot be argued against. Indeed, New Zealand offers plenty of takeoff points across its two islands as well as breathtaking scenery!

If you’ve ever wondered what paragliding feels like, try imagining being an eagle, gliding in the limitless blue skies. In New Zealand, you can be an eagle over dormant volcanoes, beautiful beaches, craggy hills, and green fields.

In this list below, not only will we tell you about the top 5 spots for paragliding in New Zealand but also how to get there.

Paragliding in Queenstown

Paragliding in Queenstown, New Zealand
Paragliding in Queenstown, New Zealand

Adventure sports to Queenstown is like what fashion is to Paris. The adventure sports capital of the world is located on the South Island of New Zealand and is close neighbors with Lake Wakatipu and the striking Southern Alps. No visit to Queenstown is complete without flying above the city with the lake Wakatipu at your feet.

The most popular spot to paraglide from in Queenstown is from Coronet Peak, 10 minutes North of the city center by road, and 20 minutes by train. Paragliding in New Zealand, over Queenstown, is pretty much immune to seasonal variations, which means the calendar doesn’t dictate when you do this activity. Having said that, your views can alter from lush green to snow-clad mountain peaks, depending on winter or summer months.

While you soar in the sky, you have views over Lake Wakatipu, Lake Hayes, and the coniferous trees surrounding them, making paragliding in Queenstown, a satisfying experience.

Paragliding in Wanaka

Paragliding in Wanaka, New Zealand
Paragliding in Wanaka, New Zealand

Wanaka was a summer hunting and fishing spot for the Māori people and even today, it has managed to preserve its raw sense of wilderness. It is located on the South Island of New Zealand and is 1 hour North of Queenstown by road. The town shares its name and the border with Lake Wanaka and is surrounded by mountains, a bit like Queenstown.

The take-off spot for this activity is the Pub Corner which is 800 m above sea level making it the highest summertime tandem flight in New Zealand. While trekking through the region in and around Wanaka is magical, being airborne is a once in a lifetime experience.

Paragliding in Wanaka is like being on a hop on hop off bus tour as you make your way through iconic natural spots. The Matukituki Valley, Lake Wanaka, Mt. Aspiring, and Roys Peak to name a few of them. If you show up for the activity on a day with favorable weather, you could enjoy up to 20 minutes of air-time! However, if you’re not lucky, you will be in the air for around 12 minutes. So when can you expect favorable weather? The months between November and April (summer months) in New Zealand are perfect to profit from. 

Paragliding in Christchurch

Paragliding in Lyttelton Harbor, Christchurch
Paragliding in Lyttelton Harbor, Christchurch

Even though the earthquake of 2010 and 2011 compelled some of the stone buildings of Christchurch to crumble to rubble, the town is still characterized by English architecture. Despite its undeniable appeal as a regional hub, Christchurch is also a great outdoor destination in its own right. A short 15-minute drive from Christchurch’s city center, you will find your destination for paragliding: Lyttelton harbor.

Lyttelton Harbor is special because you will fly on the sea breeze, which leans you could, in theory, continually stay in the air and explore the coastline around Taylor’s Mistake bau and Scarborough Cliffs. This natural assistance allows you to stay in the air for around 25 minutes, as opposed to the standard 10 minutes, offered by other spots.

So why is Christchurch on our list of top 5 places to go paragliding in New Zealand? The seamless transition from land to sea as you glide over the beach makes paragliding in Christchurch absolutely breathtaking. On average, your airtime is around 20 minutes, giving you enough time to enjoy the views from Lyttelton Harbour and even the mighty Southern Alps, on a sunny day.

Paragliding in Nelson

Paragliding in Nelson, New Zealand
Paragliding in Nelson, New Zealand

Art galleries and paragliding may sound like a strange combination but the city of Nelson can satisfy both needs. Nelson is 40 minutes away from Wellington by flight and 6 hours by road, on the South Island of New Zealand, facing the Tasman Bay.

Being one of the sunniest cities in New Zealand, Nelson isn’t a bad place to work on that tan. The sun also helps you to get a clear vision of blue skies and the coast of Nelson. Paragliding in Nelson begins at the hills that lie at the back of the city. Paragliding in New Zealand is an adrenaline-filled experience but paragliding in Nelson makes you appreciate the simpler things in life as it gives you time to reflect.

Paragliding in Auckland

Paragliding in Auckland, New Zealand
Paragliding in Auckland, New Zealand

How could we make a list of spots for paragliding in New Zealand and not include the biggest city in New Zealand – Auckland. Whilst you cannot obviously paraglide in the city center itself, there are several options available to the thrill-seekers in the vicinity. Please note that transport from Auckland to the following destinations may or may not be available, depending on the instructor you book with:

  • Kariotahi Beach: This black sand beach, stretches for 30 km and is one of the most popular spots for paragliding because of the kind assistance from the sea breeze. While paragliding on Kariotahi beach, you’d be practicing a soaring flight, which means the takeoff spot is from a low height and coastal winds are utilized to gain height. This kind of flying is usually done along sea cliffs, ridges, and sand dunes. The beach is 58 mins away by road via the Stae Highway 1 and participants get the opportunity to view the horizon and potentially the sunset, depending on the time of the day.
  • Muriwai Beach: The Muriwai beach is 35 minutes away from Auckland’s city center and not only is it a great place for paragliding but also for surfing. If you aren’t a surfer, you will be glad to observe the wild waves from a distance, as you go soaring in the sky. At your feet, you can gaze at sea cliffs and an unusual number of birds! 
  • Maungauika, North Head Devonport: If you’re seduced by metropolitan views as much as nature, Maungauika, which is just 20 minutes away from Auckland’s city center, is perfect for you. Categorized as a regular flight, one where you tandem paraglide from a higher altitude to a lower landing site, it has gorgeous views of Devonport, Cheltenham, the Hauraki Gulf but also Downtown Auckland in all its glory, the Harbour Bridge, and the Waitakeres.

The most exciting bit is that you can go paragliding in Auckland, over various types of views. From the remote and gorgeous Kariotahi Beach to the dramatic dormant volcano of Maungauika; from the soothing green pastures of Dills Hills to the steep and dizzying Paeroa Range – Auckland has it all!

For the first time participants, paragliding can get a bit intimidating but reading up about the subject can help ease the stress: check out our complete guide to tandem paragliding. Outdoor activities in New Zealand are not limited to paragliding. For instance, if you’d like to go skydiving, have a look at the top 10 spots to go skydiving in New Zealand.