$15 million skydive take-off


Plans are being floated for a $15 million skydiving simulator overlooking the Queenstown CBD.

IFLY Indoor Skydiving NZ is applying to build New Zealand’s first skydiving wind tunnel in Brecon Street, on the way to the Skyline gondola.

The company - a joint venture between SkyVenture International which manufactures iFLY wind tunnels and Auckland couple Emma and Gary Beyer - believes iFLY Queenstown will appeal to everybody who’s ever dreamt of flying.

Managing director Emma says the company spent two years looking for a Queenstown location.

She believes their chosen site, beside the Caddyshack City mini-golf course, is “absolutely perfect”.

It’s on the tourism corridor to the gondola, which takes in two mini-golf courses and the Kiwi Birdlife Park, and close to the CBD.

“It means that people can come to it very easily, when they’re just milling around in town, and it’s the kind of thing it doesn’t matter what the weather’s doing.”

Emma Beyer was on the British skydiving team that won the 2006 world champs, while her husband Gary is a former world champion and 18-time US champion.

The Queenstown building design, drawn up by local Walker Commercial Architects partner Simon Adnitt, is unlike any of the other 30 iFLY sites around the world. 

Emma Beyer says: “It has to be, because Queenstown’s a unique place - we respect the fact that it’s got to fit in with the environment and it’s got to look nice. We’re very proud of the way this facility looks.”

Clients float on a column of air rising five metres above the ground.

Beyer expects to employ about 24 staff, including 14 highly-trained instructors.

“Our instructors will be controlling the situation but letting people enjoy the experience of freefall as much as possible.”

IFLY clients around the world range in age from three to 103.

Beyer: “The nice thing is, if you are not necessarily a full-on daredevil but you like a bit of excitement, this is perfect.

“But you can also develop your skills - you can really challenge yourself because you’re in charge of how you fly in the air flow.”

Simulators overseas are often used to train skydiving instructors and competitors. Beyer says the perspex flight chamber will also have spectator appeal.

Depending on how long the resource consent process takes, she says iFLY could be flying clients by the end of next year.

Two flights will probably cost about $150 - “we’re going to do a bit more analysis but it will be roughly in line with what other soft adventure attractions cost”.

Beyer believes it won’t compete with local skydive company NZONE, whose clients jump out of planes.

She adds: “This doesn’t have the degree of trepidation.”

In January last year, Mountain Scene exclusively reported iFLY was looking for a Queenstown site.