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Paragliding from Queenstown's Coronet Peak is a truly awe inspiring experience. From adrenaline pumping fast paced twists and turns to a truly relaxing experience floating above the stunning wilderness and scenery of the Wakatipu Basin.
Having been a long time Queenstown resident I've often looked up and admired the Paragliders soaring overhead as a unique and stunning part of Queenstown's scenery, however it wasn't until recently that I actually got out there and experienced it for myself.
Picked up in central Queenstown by Fly Paragliding owner operator Abe Laguna, the drive to the Coronet Peak base building gives a hint of the spectacuar views to come. On arrival Abe and Fly Paragliding Staff members get you suited up in overalls, harness and a safety helmet before you board the chairlift and head for the summit.
A short scenic walk and we're at the take off zone, the blood starts to pump as Abe sets up the paraglider, and briefs me thoroughly on how it's all going to work. The take off is steep, and I've got to admit I'm pretty lousy when it comes to heights, so at this stage the adrenaline is really starting to kick in.
Abe conducts a few final checks and we are all strapped in ready to go. On the count of three it's two big running steps forward and the chute lifts up effortlessly. Go! go! go! The glider takes our weight as we slip quietly off the mountain into the air.
The feeling of exhileration as the glider lifts us high above the valley floor is awesome. Turning effortlessley and silently around the chimney of rocks and soaring high above the ski field below. The sensation quicky shifts from adrenailine to serenity as you take it all in in the stillness on unpowered flight.
Abe checks I'm comfy and well seated in the harness, then shows me how to direct the glider using weight distribution and the handles before passing conrol of the glider over to me ... following the ridgeline we cruise taking in a real birds eye view of the stunning Wakatipu basin sprawled below us. The pattern of the pine forests, and valleys below is amazing from here.
After a bit more of flying a lesson, it's time for Abe to take the controls for the optional adrenaline and acrobatic part of the paragliding experience.
By this stage I'm feeling surprisingly safe and secure dangling there hundreds of meters above the earths surface. I know I'm in good hands so give Abe the Ok to let loose on a series of acrobatic twists and turns that see us decending faster towards the valley floor in a blur of g-force like riding a roller coaster.
As the ground nears you gain a better sensation for the considerable speed you are travelling at - with the landing zone fast approaching Abe talks me through the landing process, the final instruction is given to stand up and we land neatly on our feet buzzing from the experience.
The chute is packed away and it's time to grab a beer and look through all the photos and videos included in the Fly Paragliding experience.
Paragliding with Fly Paragliding costs $199 per person and includes pick up from your Central Queenstown accommodation, all the videos and photos of your flight.
In winter if you don't already have a lift pass for Coronet Peak an extra $15 will be required to ride the chairlift.
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