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Flights of fancy: GCH Aviation

There’s another way of looking at a corporate or personal celebration event this festive season for Christchurch, combining luxury with relaxation and the opportunity to explore our own backyard. People are moving around in smaller, more intimate groups these days, however, they are still looking for something memorable for their next event.



Iconic local, GCH Aviation – known to most as Garden City Helicopters – is making the most of the city’s extraordinary backdrop with heli winery lunches for couples, groups and corporates looking for a special way to celebrate, reward loyal clients or just do something new.

It’s the ultimate way to bring the magic back to 2020!

Enjoy a helicopter flight to one of our region’s world-renowned wineries to enjoy beautiful food and award-winning wines from either North Canterbury’s Black Estate or Waipara Hills, or the Selwyn District’s Melton Estate.

“It’s an opportunity to think outside of the box for your next corporate event, or even getting a group of friends together to do something unique for the festive season,” says GCH Group Marketing Manager Caroline Blanchfield.

“With our heli charters, we can land on a mountain for a picnic, jet boat up the Waimakariri River followed by lunch at a winery or even get you up to Hanmer for a spa day and horse riding, whale watching in Kaikoura, or arrange an exclusive luxury lodge lunch at a variety of stunning locations. Essentially, we can tailor-make an experience to fit a range of people and budgets.

“It’s been a hard year, so why not let Garden City Helicopters take you somewhere special this season?”


New tourism activity drops: GCH Aviation

There’s a fun new local activity that’s set to drop, giving the Canterbury tourism industry a much-needed boost.



GCH Aviation, the parent company of Garden City Helicopters, is partnering with Skydiving Kiwis to bring skydiving to Sumner Beach,

“This is a totally new product in New Zealand tourism and that’s a great place to be,” says GCH Aviation Group Marketing Manager Caroline Blanchfield.

“Some might think that this is a strange time to bring a new product to market, but this is exactly the time to innovate and launch a new tourism experience to put Christchurch on the domestic and later the international map. It really will appeal to Kiwis looking for a new thrill,” Caroline says.

Skydiving Kiwis has been a successful tourism venture in Ashburton for over a decade and hopes to bring skydiving into Christchurch as well as Hanmer Springs.

Director Lee Barraclough says the award-winning tourism operation has been working hard on these two projects for nearly two years and is now in the final stages of being able to take Cantabrians skydiving over the Sumner coastline.

“We only plan four flights a day at the start and that small section of beach will only be cordoned off for 20 minutes at a time, before other people can use it again,” says Lee, who is a resident of Sumner and wants to make ensure his operation becomes a treasured asset to the suburb and not a burden.

“It is our aim for Sumner residents to enjoy the skydivers, but also for other businesses to benefit from the visitors we bring into Sumner.”

While the New Zealand tourism industry is fearing the near future without foreign visitors, Lee is confident the domestic appetite for adventure will enable many adventure activity businesses to create a sustainable and innovative business model.

“We can reimagine our tourism industry. Instead of competing, we can collaborate, like with the Adventure Park, to offer a compelling package to visit Canterbury, or for Cantabrians to enjoy their own backyard.”


Love is in the air: GCH Aviation

Helicopters and romance are the perfect pairing – whisking away lovebirds to dream locations, capturing memories to share around the world.



GCH Aviation, or as locals fondly know as Garden City Helicopters, has been safely flying couples and wedding parties for decades, to secluded and spectacular locations.

“We have to think differently about weddings now, with our new normal,” Group Marketing Manager Caroline Blanchfield says.

“All sorts of things can be made possible with a helicopter. We live in a stunningly beautiful region, and we know where all the gems are.”

Loved ones might not be there in person but can share the experience through beautiful videos and photographs.

GCH Aviation has created the scene of many ‘I dos’ from hill-top weddings and civil unions to renewing of vows and plenty of proposals!

On the menu of enchanted locations is the rugged alpine beauty of secluded Chest Peak near Arthurs Pass overlooking the Southern Alps and Christchurch.

A romantic backdrop is Leibig Dome with breathtaking views to Aoraki Mt Cook, Mt Tasman and Murchison Valley.

“If it’s a place a couple has a special connection to that maybe on DOC or farmland, we can apply for access. And there are plenty of hidden little bays around Banks Peninsula with no road access that we can get to.”

For weddings on the ground, experienced pilots can fly the bridal party to another world – there and back in an hour.

Love will always be in the air at GCH Aviation.


Taking Off!

The only luxury commercial jet of its kind in the country has landed – poised to take tourism, business and bucket-list dreams to greater heights.


It’s a new beginning for the latest addition to the GCH Aviation fleet, a Bombardier Challenger 604.

The full walk-around Canadian-built luxury jet sports a new engine and has been modified to transform into an international air ambulance when required.

From important meetings to far-away events, it’s a way to get there fast and in jet-set style.

With a glamorous fit-out in mahogany trim, cream leather seats and couch, bar and bathroom, the ride is the highlight.

“We can take up to 10 people on board, and can fly say to the Melbourne Cup for the day, or a shopping spree in Sydney,” says GCH Aviation CEO Andrew Currie.

“Jetting to the wineries is much more of a relaxing experience – like swapping the bus for a Mercedes! It’s really comfortable and quiet. You can hardly hear the engine.”

GCH Aviation is known to most as Garden City Helicopters. Many a mile has clocked up since pioneering beginnings on New Brighton Beach in 1983 with weekend helicopter flights and a rescue service.

Founder John Currie, a current helicopter pilot, moved his family up from Manapouri and started Christchurch’s first helicopter operation.

He moved to the former airport location in 1985 with everything helicopters – tourism, flight training, rescue and the 3ZB radio report.

The New Zealand Flying Doctors launched 1994 – the first fixed-wing hospital service, where John’s son Andrew was both pilot and Operations Manager.

John now semi retired, but will still phone or calls in every day, leaving all the Currie siblings at the controls – Andrew as CEO, Daniel as Chief Financial Officer and Chantelle managing the accounts.

Professional wings have widened over the years (hence the name rebranding) and now includes Wellington Helicopters, Kaikoura Helicopters, GCH Greymouth, GCH Nelson, Pacific Island Air in Fiji, Vanuatu Helicopters and GCH UAV (drones), with 35 helicopters and now five fixed wing aircrafts nationwide.

The new headquarters at 73 Grays Road was completed in 2017, taking purpose-built to an impressive, breath-taking level.

Winning gold at The New Zealand Project Commercial Awards, it will soon be completely solar powered as a move towards sustainability.

“A decade of thought and aviation knowledge has gone into the design,” Andrew says.

“We had to create a balance between all areas – air rescue, air ambulance, tourism, commericals and engineering.

A place where everyone can meet up together. A luxury jet was always on the cards, but dad had said we needed the garage before the car!”

The new addition arrived at the Jet Centre last month.

“As a ‘first of type’ aircraft for the country, we are awaiting certification from Civil Aviation before putting her into service as the South Island’s only charter jet and international air ambulance.”

The Jet Centre has customs facilities, shower and VIP lounge – a relaxing, private five-star space, also ideal for meetings on the fly.

Whether for a marriage or business proposal, or unique unforgettable trip of a lifetime, Andrew says GCH Aviation’s services now offer a solution for everybody.

Group Marketing Manager Caroline Blanchfield promotes GCH Aviation to the worldwide luxury tourism sector.

“This is a big thing for New Zealand tourism,” she says of the new truly global jet.

“It opens up a whole lot of opportunities. For people wanting to do business in the islands, it provides convenience, anonymity and comfort, and we can then link to our helicopter experiences in Christchurch, Fiji or Kaikoura, for example. Some fly to New Zealand just for a day’s whale watching. We are bridging the gap for travellers who are asset rich but time poor”.

The service offers exciting endless opportunities for locals. “It could be Auckland to a concert, or Formula 1 in Queensland – all the things Christchurch people love to do.”