Queenstown-based helicopter company Heli Tours has been granted an historic 18-year permit multi conservancy concession for heli landings, the first of its kind permitted by the Department of Conservation.
The permit enables the two-year-old company to make the most of a range of options for helicopter landings throughout Otago, Southland and Canterbury for recreation or tourism activities.
"It's taken us a couple of years to get to this point as I started before I even officially launched the company, so we're really thrilled and delighted that the ink has dried on this historic agreement with DOC," said Heli Tours owner Paul Mitchell.
"As far as I'm aware, this is the first multi-conservancy concession of its type in New Zealand."
The coup gives Heli Tours the edge over competitors by enabling it to offer multiple landing options where others might be limited by bad weather.
"The scope of the concession is so broad, it enables us to give greater security to inbound tourism operators looking for continuity in what we're able to offer to groups or individuals," said Mr Mitchell.
"If weather conditions aren't conducive to landings in our immediate area or in Fiordland, the Canterbury sites give us the flexibility to go further afield.
"If clients particularly want to travel to a range of sites and experience some of the very best views or activities over a few hours or a whole day, we can go from the Livingstone Mountains in Southland or the Humbolts in Otago, to the Arrowsmith or Jollie Range in Canterbury to many glaciers not far from Mt Cook. The Reischek and Cameron glaciers are just awesome.
"There are so many positives to this. In summer, we can always take people to snow.
"People can go hiking, honeymoon couples from Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Australia or North America can land and break out the champagne in any one of a range of stunning locations, and we fly fishermen, recreational people, photographers, hunters and whitebaiters to some amazing spots they would have difficulty accessing any other way.
"The good thing is that often it doesn't take much more additional flying time to get there."
Mr Mitchell said Heli Tours was the first helicopter company to realise the opportunities available when DOC made the longer term permits available, and put the work into going through the lengthy application process.
"I saw the opportunity and was determined to go for it. It was a lot of work but worth it when we reap the benefits that the scope of the permit will bring," he said.
The process has resulted in the forging of a mutually beneficial relationship between Heli Tours and DOC. As well as offering sponsorship for a current DOC research project, Heli Tours has offered ongoing support for DOC's research and scientific monitoring projects.
Mr Mitchell said he and wife Katherine, both of whom have farming backgrounds, were "passionate" about the high country and the environment Heli Tours worked in.
"We're really proactive about helping DOC where we can because we have a genuine love for environmental stewardship. I'm delighted to say that's working out well and we've forged some great relationships in this process," he said.
Mr Mitchell said that he was grateful for the work carried out by Bridget Allen of John Edmonds and Associates who helped the company prepare its concession.
Previously, the maximum a company could apply for a concession was 10 years.
Mr Mitchell said he had continued confidence in the tourism market and believed the work had been worth the effort.
"It gives us reason to be confident in our long-term viability and to ensure that our customers have confidence in us always being able to deliver an experience for clients.
"We are confident in the future. Not only will the concession be good for us, but also good for the local economy. We can now look to invest in more staff and in our business for growth."
As the sole owner of Heli Tours, Mr Mitchell is committed to growth and innovation in the business, along with Katherine. He has partnered with key companies in the region to develop innovative packages such as wine tasting tours, a 'Picnic in Paradise' and a You vs Wild 'Drop Zone' survival experience.
Mr Mitchell said the concession showed that DOC had faith in the company and its operating practices, and trusted them to operate in such a pristine region.
"We know all the good work DOC does and want to be part of that. We won't abuse our right to be out there, we want to give back. We're very passionate about the environment and investing in New Zealand."
Popular competitions and giveaways from Gimme.co.nz: NZ's People Powered Guide to Free Stuff. Links will open on Gimme.
Join Voxy on Google+.
Compare Credit Cards - Interest rate and fees comparisons for New Zealand banks.