Unmissable’s thought process when we first heard the word heli-surfing:

Helicopter + surfing = surfing a helicopter?

Helicopter + surfing = surfing on top of a helicopter?

Helicopter + surfing = finding the best surfing spots that are only accessible by helicopter.

Well THANK GOODNESS for that.

Awarua Heli-surfing
All images via Awarua Guides.

Now we’ve got to grips with what heli-surfing entails, we want nothing more than to charter a helicopter and order it to take us surfing all day long. We discovered Awarua Guides, whose heli-surfing/wilderness/leave-the-real-world-behind-for-a-while trips have us THIS CLOSE to giving up on the British winter and flying straight to New Zealand.


Based in Fiordland on the south-west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Awarua Guides is run by Warrick Mitchell, who has lived in the area his whole life. In fact, the riverside cabin in which overnight guests stay is actually Warrick’s childhood home, built in 1968 by his father. This guy knows a thing or two about wildest Fiordland, that’s for sure. Including how to access its most remote beaches, when roads aren’t an option.

Helicopter Awarua

Trips hosted by Warrick and his family and friends are tailor-made to your needs, wants, hopes and dreams. Some people opt for a day’s heli-surfing, others go the whole hog and immerse themselves in the full residential experience, including hiking, free diving, fishing and, of course, more surfing. And thanks to the combination of Warrick’s expert local knowledge, and a helicopter that can fly you to seemingly inaccessible spots in double-quick time, you’re never far from a memorable surf. And if at first you don’t succeed, simply move on – that’s the joy of heli-surfing.

Surfing New Zealand
Surfing Fiordland

And, oh, OH, what incredible surfing this is. Fiordland really does come up with the goods. You won’t see many people – in fact, your own group may be the only other humans you witness – and those who have managed to conquer this wild coast before you boast about the exhilarating waves found here. Sometimes weather conditions and the turning tide mean you’ll touch down, hop out, and have the briefest of mind-blowing surfs before your pilot needs to take off again. It all adds to the adrenaline-filled experience.

View from helicopter

But, y’know, if you’re having a particularly tricky time finding the right waves, well, the view from the helicopter should delight and distract you for a while. STOP SHOWING OFF, NEW ZEALAND. Sigh.

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