Like A Bird: Paragliding over Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu

Two Weeks in New Zealand
Spectacular view over Lake Wakatipu

Last Updated on July 30, 2017 by Natasha Amar

I’ve been afraid of heights my entire life. But I had been afraid of a lot of other things (spiders) too that I don’t fear anymore (almost) and it’s only because each time I was presented the opportunity to face those fears, I said, “Yes” before I had the chance to contemplate.  That’s the thing about each time I travel, it makes me feel like I am responsible to complete at least one personal challenge and push the boundaries just a little further.

So before I can think about it, I am standing at G-Force Paragliding Queenstown at Skyline Gondola, having just signed up to tandem paraglide over the strikingly gorgeous Lake Wakatipu. Paragliding Queenstown, by the way, is not something I thought I’d do. Ever.

“Be here in twenty minutes”, says the friendly redhead behind the counter. “Twenty minutes, that’s too long”, I think to myself wanting to get it over with quickly. After pacing around the area forcing myself not to chicken away, I head back and meet my pilot Gav. He smiles warmly as he introduces himself and his colleague and I instantly decide that I like him and that he won’t let me die. Talk about paranoia.

Some off the paranoia wears away as the next twenty minutes are spent hiking through a chilly forest with trees that block most of the much needed sunshine.  I rub my hands together, they’re freezing even in warm gloves as Gav’s colleague is talking about how he’s been a professional paraglider for the last fourteen years, as has Gav. It helps that he’s telling me this because I am now sure that I am in good hands. At the end of the exhausting hike, we are at the top of a hill from where we’re going to take off.

As the gear is being strapped onto me, Gav asks me if I am feeling good. Over the past few years, I have learnt that the best way to get over fear is to smile and pretend like you’re fearless. So I flash him a wide smile and say, “Of course!”.  As he adjusts his own straps behind me he says that I need to help him by beginning to jog slowly and not stopping until my legs can no longer touch the ground. Before I understand what he means, he says, “Go” and starts to jog right behind me. We are now heading straight towards the edge. I begin to panic because well, it’s the edge and yell, “What should I do now?” and he says, “Relax, you don’t need to do anything”. Before I realize what is happening, I am shocked to see that we’re carried high up into the sky by the wind. I wiggle my body into the seat and my mind says, “Ohhh, so that’s how you get up here!”.

Once in the sky, I cannot believe what I am looking at and how it feels. “Like a bird, huh?!”, says Gav and in my state of amazement, I respond with, “Uh-huh”. It takes a few minutes to sink in that I am soaring over gorgeous Lake Wakatipu and looking down at the city of Queenstown. The lake shines in a pretty shade of blue and the face of the Mount Remarkables range is bathed in sunlight; the whole scene is surreal.  I notice that Queenstown looks neat and well-arranged, its buildings like a set of Lego blocks from the sky. Gav sets up his GoPro camera and takes a couple of pictures. For the video, he spins us around to capture the thrills on camera. Once this is done, we soar calmly over the spectacular landscape, talking about my time in Queenstown, how he started his career and how much he loves it all. Can’t blame him, the view from his office is quite something!

Paragliding Queenstown New Zealand
Excited like never before!

He points out a green patch saying that we will be landing there and I need to jog again as my feet touch the ground. In a few minutes we have landed and are standing on the patch of grass. As I remove the gear, I smile widely and thank him for the experience of a lifetime. We click some pictures on the ground and he hands me the pictures and videos from his GoPro. We wish each other luck and off he goes to get back in time for his next flight. I stand in the green patch, still amazed, ecstatic and quite proud to have overcome my fear more than just a little bit. I thank my stars to be here in Queenstown, realizing what a big mistake it would have been to miss out on this experience.

If there is a place where you absolutely must paraglide, then New Zealand’s Queenstown is it. It’s not called ‘The Adventure Capital of the World’ for nothing!  If you’re not a professional, G-Force is a great operator to go with, they are thorough professionals, extremely friendly and will make sure you are very comfortable every step of the way. I’d like to say a big, “Thanks!”, to  them for making this one of the most memorable experiences of my life!

Paragliding Queenstown New Zealand
Spectacular view over Lake Wakatipu
Paragliding Queenstown New Zealand
High up above Queenstown

Disclosure: All opinions expressed are my own based on my wonderful experience with G-Force Paragliding in Queenstown and this is not a sponsored post or paid review of their services.

Looking for a place to stay in Queenstown? Find and compare options on to get the cheapest deal.

You can check out my itinerary for two weeks in New Zealand. For general info to plan your trip, see my New Zealand Travel Blog.

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Like A Bird: Paragliding Queenstown New Zealand

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    1. says: thebohochica

      Neither did I but I did it anyway. That’s the thing about travel; it makes you do things you didn’t imagine you would do.

  1. says: The Guy

    This looks and sounds like a fabulous experience. I’d love to try it someday.

    Your build up and apprehension reminds a little of my experience of taking a skydive in Cairns – I’d love to that again.

    Do something everyday which scares you? Good on you for facing your fears head on.

    1. says: thebohochica

      Thank you! I did sign up to skydive in Queenstown but the weather decided it wasn’t the right time for me yet. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I was kind of relieved. 😉

  2. says: Susan Aksu

    That smile and that experience look priceless! Good thing you did it, haha I know I would not be able to. Cheers to awesome, exhilarating and getting over your fears experiences 😛

  3. says: traciehowe

    If you’re going to face your fear of heights, New Zealand is the place to do it! I think I would trust those adventure experts more than in any other place. Plus, it’s beautiful! Congratulations!

  4. says: Christina

    Must been a great experience and lots of fun. I am afraid of heights too but guess what. I even did the paraglide licence but I stopped paragliding after 6 or 7 flights again because I had some problems (part of the paraglider collapsed – it wasn´t dangerous but it frightened me to death…;))

  5. says: Milosz Zak

    I have to say that this is preferable to sky diving. I think I’ll look into this before I take a leap of faith from any plane.

  6. well done for encouraging people to go beyond their fears. Second time i’ve read your blog and i really enjoy the way you write. You make it sound like everything is possible so much positive energy. I don’t think you could make me like birds though (i’m afraid of them) but i’ll have a go next time i think i can’t do something.

    1. says: thebohochica

      🙂 thanks Jameela for the comment. It made my day. Well I do believe that everything is possible. Travel has brought that to my personality and I’m grateful for the opportunities.

  7. says: Claudia

    WOW. What else am I supposed to say? It looks fantastic, and you describe it so well! I wish I can do it as well sometimes!

  8. Wow – these photos are incredible! Yes, you have to just pretend you’re not afraid and go for it. I REALLY want to try this before I get much older – the older I get the more fear/motion sickness I have, which is so annoying!

  9. This looks great! And I’m proud of you for doing that.
    Paragliding is a beautiful place like that must be a unforgettable experience. I’m still a bit afraid of doing such a thing, but I’m sure that my time will come one day and I will just do the same, smile, pretend I’m fearless and enjoy the ride.


    1. says: thebohochica

      Thank you! It was an unforgettable experience indeed! I’d say go for it and don’t think about it, just do it and you’ll have one of the best experiences of your life! 🙂

  10. says: Dave Cole

    Looks like a pretty incredible experience! I forget that I still get a bit uneasy about heights until I look over the edge of a tall building, so this might be something good for me to do too. Queenstown must have a lot to offer as an adventure capital. I’m sure the hiking there is really nice, too.

    1. says: thebohochica

      Thanks for the comment Dave! This was an amazing experience. It’s a great feeling once you’ve finally done something you’ve always feared. Queenstown is a great place to get your adventure and nature fix with plenty of options from hiking to skydiving.

  11. says: Em

    Wow! That must have been very exciting! I’d also be scared out of my mind but I bet it was worth doing in the end. Very jealous of the views you got to see 🙂

  12. says: Em

    Wow! That must have been very exciting! I’d also be scared it off my mind but I bet it was worth doing in the end. Very jealous of the views you got to see 🙂