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heli-biking

photo courtesy RedbullRampage.com

Downhill skiers and snowboarders have been using helicopters to access backcountry terrain for years but they arent the only ones. Helibiking combines the reach of a helicopter with the rush of downhill mountain biking in places like British Columbia and New Zealand. We recently got the lowdown from Vernon Reid of Helibike.com LTD, a mountain bike guide service provider in New Zealand.

For many Helibike.com LTD clients, the trip is as much about the incredible scenery as it is the rush of the descent. Remember, youre riding in a helicopter through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in New Zealand, which in and of itself, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The routes Helibike.com LTD services are actually located on private land and arent accessible via lifts or shuttle vehicles. Heck, even if you wanted to ride up you wouldnt be allowed!

Vernon points out that helibiking has a lower environmental impact than say four-wheel drive shuttle vehicles or even permanent lift stations. All you need is a clear place to touch down with the bikes and youre off.

Surprisingly, Vernon estimates that 90% of his clients have never been DH mountain biking before their first helibiking experience. As such, most clients opt to use the GT Sanction 2 mountain bikes on hand for a smooth descent.

Unlike heli-skiing where the aim is to access untouched backcountry areas, most (if not all) helibike tour operators shuttle to well-established trail systems. Initially I imagined extreme DH or freeriders with access to a helicopter looking at a peak on a map and deciding to find a way down but thats not really practical (or enjoyable either). Nope, it may be possible to make first tracks in snow but on a bike its not advisable.

At the end of the day, using a helicopter as a DH shuttle is a fun and scenic way to get to the top of the mountain. In many cases, helibiking can take you to places that are virtually inaccessible via conventional means (other than riding uphill of course)!

Thanks to Vernon Reid and Helibike.com for providing information used in this article.

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# Comments

  • GoldenGoose

    If it’s anything like heliskiing, ~$1000 per trip up the mountain. Split up 4-5 ways that is doable but NOT cheap.

  • GoldenGoose

    Freudian slip. We went in Whistler (heli skiing) and it was about $1000 a head. $5k total split 5 ways.

  • Goo

    Wow, that’s an expensive ride up.

    Even though I may WANT it to be on my bucket list, I doubt it will ever happen.

    But goldengoose, that would’ve been about $1k for like a day of heli skiing?

  • GoldenGoose

    We ended up coming down the LONG way, 4 1/2 hour ride down almost ALL fresh powder. The guys we used charged for a time slot and we basically blew it on that one run to the top (but it was one HECK of a run). I think the exact split was $826 a head (close enough to a grand for me). The company also did a version where they would charge one price for a specific number of trips up the mountain as long it was during the same day but that one was was even more $$.

  • Suvacrew

    Pretty typical Kiwi fodder…make money from gravity…(Bungee, Zorbing, Flying Foxes/Zip lines).
    Keep in mind that most of this high end play is designed for tourists visiting. As you’ll find if you venture to Queenstown etc.
    Most Kiwi’s will figure out a way to play without dolling out the $$. Also when looking at the cost factor, that it’s in NZ$ which has run an exchange rate of $.57 to $.71 on the US$ in the past year.
    With $US…NZ is a playground to live large in.
    The most amazing thing you’ll notice down here is the small and limited risk disclosures if there is one presented at all. Typical note..”this is dangerous, be careful, if you get hurt it’s your problem, remember we told you so”.
    Cheers,

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