Expanded helicopter operation proposed for Gibbston

A helicopter landing consent already in place for the site, allows up to 10 flights a day and no...
A helicopter landing consent already in place for the site, allows up to 10 flights a day and no more than 15 a week. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
A new tourism operation wants to set up shop in Gibbston, with a possible 25 helicopter flights in and out of the valley a day.

Havoc Farms Ltd, owned by bungy pioneer Henry Van Asch and his wife Caroline Hutchison, wants to run a heli-biking/walking/skiing business based on its land beside the Winehouse.

As part of the consent it wants permission for up to 25 flights, or 50 helicopter movements, per day between the hours of 8am and 8pm.

On average, that is one landing or take-off every 15 minutes, although the consent notes the limit is based on a peak day.

It also wants to construct a hangar with space for three helicopters.

Havoc Farms wants the application to be non-notified, but that has left the Gibbston Community Association unimpressed.

Chairman Craig Palmer said it was "a dramatic increase in helicopter traffic, and given the bulk of the flights travel down the valley, we believe it will have an impact on more than just those close by".

"We're not saying we disagree with it, but we think it should be publicly notified."

Henry Van Asch
Henry Van Asch

It also follows a candidates' meeting in Glenorchy last week, where prospective councillors were questioned on the issue of informal airports, and many were opposed to more private helipads.

Mr van Asch said he already has a heli-biking business, and this was "just an evolution".

"Gibbston is an ideal location, because a lot of the biking trails are in that area."

An acoustic assessment found the noise impacts would be acceptable under the district plan.

The proposal complies with the rules, "that's all we can do", he said.

The consent application also points out that the helicopters could also be used to ferry visitors to and from other attractions at Gibbston, as well as potentially helping with frost-fighting at the valley's vineyards.

A helicopter landing consent already in place for the site, allows up to 10 flights a day and no more than 15 a week.

That will be scrapped if the new application is approved.

It is the second Gibbston tourism business to be revealed in two months.

In July, Mountain Scene reported on Oxbow Adventure Co's adventure playground at Victoria Flats, which will comprise jetsprint boats, 4WD off-road buggies, and claybird shooting. That is due to open mid-summer.

Mr van Asch said when he arrived in Wakatipu, Gibbston was mostly farmland.

"In another 30 years' time, it'll look a lot different again."

A housing proposal is making its way through the Environment Court after initially being rejected by council commissioners.

Gibbston Vines Ltd, whose sole director is Queenstown businessman Graham Wilkinson, applied in 2017 to subdivide an 8.9ha block into six residential lots and a commercial lot.

The appeal was heard last December by Judge John Hassan and commissioners Russell Howie and Glenice Paine who, in an interim decision, said the company should be given an opportunity to make changes to address its "identified deficiencies".

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