Couple’s helicopter dash for coffee in Catlins

An Australian couple dropped in, literally, for a coffee at the Catlins’ newest cafe yesterday.

While most visitors to the Whistling Frog Cafe and Holiday Park arrive by car or motorhome, John and Jan Owen, from Western Australia, chose a more dramatic entrance — by chartered helicopter.

The couple phoned ahead on Sunday to inform cafe co-owner Paul Bridson of their plans to call in during their aerial visit of the Catlins.

And sure enough, a $500,000 Robertson Helicopter, chartered from a Coromandel tourist operator, touched down yesterday on a private helipad next to the cafe and out stepped the couple, ready for a flat white and some tasty scones before continuing their journey.

They stayed for more than an hour, revelling in the holiday park’s surroundings, Mr Bridson said.

‘‘Their helicopter is virtually their wheels while they are in the country. Now that’s what I call style,’’ he said, laughing.

Both were impressed with the area’s ruggedness and scenery and promised to return one day, almost certainly by the same mode of transport.

‘‘They stayed, had a coffee and something to eat, then took off again to carry on their journey. It was just amazing,’’ Mr Bridson said.

He had noticed a growing number of ‘‘extremely affluent’’ overseas visitors were finding his secret hideaway near the Cathedral Caves.

Many enjoyed the remote location because it was such a contrast to the busy ‘‘hustle-bustle’’ of places like Queens town and Wanaka.

‘‘This first season has showed that there is a pent-up visitor demand for upscale accommodation and eateries in the Clutha District.’’




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