September 5th, 2010
If you’re charged by exciting experiences in the Big Air, then…. for some unique opportunities, a visit to the Nelson Bays area might be worth including in your future plans.
For all those folk hunting for a home for sale in Nelson or the surrounding Tasman areas, here are yet more great things to do locally….with a tad of adventure throw in.
Or you could put it another way, just like A League and All Whites midfielder Jeremy Brockie, who after his return to Nelson last week from the FIFA World Cup in South Africa, described what he liked about our region to The Nelson Leader thus;
“…. its relaxed and chilled out. And the suns always shining. I love the place.”
It could even be debated that we have the most amount of big air in NZ.
Well by the calculation of taking away the stratosphere to sea level air volume and somehow counting it. As we have the highest/widest range of tides 4m odd, then it could be argued that we do in fact have more available air, if only at low tide…..4 more vertical metres of it… 🙂
Ok, so what Big Air choices are there?
You can start small, for example there is some little big air to be had down at the Tahuna BMX track
also down at the beach at Tahunanui you can try your hand or feet rather at Skim Boarding
then we start to speed up with Wind Surfing and Kite Boarding / Surfing.
Nelsons two favourite spots are the one above, photographed inside our famous “Boulder Bank” where sports junkies are protected from the open sea
and at the far end of Tahunanui Beach,
adjacent Blind Channel…..although as you see in the below graphic the channel itself is a prohibited area.
The designated zone at the western end of our equally famous Tahunanui Beach is very popular because of its “just minutes” access from practically any part of Nelson / Stoke.
No problems if you haven’t done this before there are many companies locally that will show you how to do it right.
Time to get a bit more speed up…..
Land Yachts / Sand Yachts along with a newer trend / updated design to these land based yachts has arrived in the form of the Blokart. Here above is an example of one doing a really bad job of trying to fit into the garage, perhaps that’s why its Golden Bay owner is selling it on Trademe.
In the process…… introducing the term “Blokarting“ to the sporting world.
This nimble machine was invented right here in NZ, at Papamoa, near Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty.
In fact, by all accounts, it looks like its more popular overseas than here in NZ where it started life.
A while back you could usually spot these sporty land yacht devices on the mudflats /sand estuary areas at the head of the Haven, the Wakapuaka Sand Flats, however with the advent of other business and local government use, many are now seen towards the western end of Rabbit Island on the long uninterrupted stretches of sand there. Neale Park is another favourite too, wind here is no doubt good because this is the site of Nelsons Annual Kite Festival.
Here’s a photo story of a locals direct experience of Rabbit Island.
Now to add some elevation to the mix……
Hang-Gliding / Para-Gliding
Regular readers here will already know about this as I have written about it a few times before.
The main reason is that courtesy of some very high hills behind Stoke, the Barnicoat Range photographed above.
With the aid of the general topography of the Nelson region, and because of it, we are blessed with some of what I believe is New Zealands best hang gliding / para gliding launch spots – reached from the top of Marsden Valley. (Note: there isn’t any vehicular access here as the track gates are usually locked, although obviously the local Para Gliding club has a key and access)
Certainly some of the most accessible anyway, being just a short distance from town, and then an additional short 4 wheel drive trip to the hilltop.
I believe that these two fantastic photos from Paul Nankivell actually do the spot more justice.
Firstly the view out towards Nelson and the Boulder Bank from a flier whose has just launched off the top of Barnicoat, and secondly……
the just fantastic view off the launch pad site looking out in a north westerly direction. Directly below is the peninsula of Monaco, and upper photo is the Eastern end of Rabbit Island with Blind Channel separating them. This second shot clearly indicates the altitude too.
In the old days as a kid growing up in Nelson back in the 1970’s it was a common summer event to see Parachutists gliding above, eventually landing down at the Nelson Airport. However as what is want to happen these days, Nelson Airport just got too busy and they stopped the local club from using it as a landing place. Now the only spot is over in Motueka, a leisurely 30 minute drive from Richmond. (in fact some places like Skydive offer free pickups anywhere in Nelson/Tasman)
Skydive seem to be the biggest.
According to that stats on this page at dropzone.com, who say they have the most comprehensive database of skydiving locations worldwide, Skydives Abel Tasman / Motueka Airport based parachuting operation is ranked 5th in the whole wide world.
“Skywire” – the Fasssssst Flying Fox (up to 100 km/h)
Just for something a little different but still getting you out into the AIR, perhaps you should try it when next in Nelson.
Their website states….. “You soar like a bird for over 3km, up to 150m above beautiful native forest.”
Helicopter rides & lessons – you know what these are so I don’t need to explain.
Or you can just go for the biggest big air of them all…….
When you see this sort of claim……you know something special is round the corner ….
Described by the operators “…………possibly STILL New Zealand’s best kept secret”.
And after reading a comment like that above I think you can see why?
Check out the video here…..
And this is not just any little Stunt Plane – this is a “ridgy didge” genuine open cockpit Pitts Special.
After taking the geographical, topographical and all “other”graphical things into account, they all do indeed point to our region as the one part of NZ blessed with “perfect” weather. So there definitely is accuracy in the following statement from their website;
Motueka is at the Northern tip of the South Island of New Zealand and therefore has some of the best weather and flying conditions in New Zealand. No wonder it’s become a Mecca for sport Aviation enthusiasts from around the world.
To top it off when you see something like this popping its nose around a corner…….
and you hear / see the cute little blue thing screaming across the skies, you can’t but hope that CAA and everyone else will soon let this little beauty take up flying passengers.
Although if what the chap at the recent Air New Zealand new $14m Hangar day hinted at – is anything to go by, you might just have to save up for a flight on something like this.
According to a first hand pilots report here, “while at climb power settings and low altitude, the IA-25 turbofan burns about 330 gallons per hour (GPH), but this rapidly decreases to less than 140 GPH in cruise at 18,000 feet.” (Just in case you’re curious, In Kiwi numbers thats 1249 litres p/hr down to about 530 litres per hour.)
That’s what I think the chap why trying to hint at – because of a fuel burn rate like that it won’t be the cheapest aerial flight you’ve ever been on. Owner Mr Caudwell, said its top speed was 750kmh.
Overall I guess this potential future jet trip can’t really be classified in the true spirit of BIG AIR ……… because you will be enclosed in a cockpit,
……and therefore not really being about to experience the big air rush it could provide, in other words feeling the BIG AIR in your face……….then again at 700kph unenclosed might be a tad unsafe I suggest.
So you can clearly see there is quite some AIR activities in our region, pretty good place for a work conference if you ask me too.
(PARA- GLIDING PHOTO CREDIT – Paul Nankivell )