Living, Working, Playing and Flying in Queenstown
Queenstown calls itself the adventure capital of the world, and it's not hard to see why.
Jetboating, off-road motorcycling, mountain bike riding, snowboarding, water skiing, bungy jumping, parapenting and skydiving are just some of the adrenaline-pumping activities available nearby.
But life in Queenstown can also be as peaceful as you choose. The region has many intimate bars and restaurants, wineries, art galleries, botanic gardens, golf courses, walking tracks, horseriding trails and fishing spots. Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand's third largest inland lake, provides excellent opportunities for boating.
Surrounded by spectacular mountains, Queenstown is justifiably proud of its reputation as an international tourist destination, ski resort and scenic wonder.
Yet obtaining accommodation is rarely a problem and every week the local newspapers contain ads from people looking for housemates or flatmates, either in town or in the surrounding countryside. From time to time members of the aero club are also looking for people to share housing.
Short-term employment is always available, especially in retailing, tourism and hospitality. Longer-term jobs are frequently on offer for drivers, labourers, builders, other trades people and some professionals. There is little sign of the recent recession here, and it's hard to believe Queenstown was once just a small gold-mining settlement and, before that, a high country sheep station.
Because the region now relies heavily on tourism there are frequent jet flights from other centres in New Zealand and direct flights from Australia. Every day of the week you can see all types of aircraft flying here -- from helicopters and small aerobatic planes to Airbus A320s.
This gives our students an ideal opportunity to learn how to mix in with all the different types of air traffic that they're likely to encounter when they fly further a field. Even so, within minutes of taking off from Queenstown, we can be flying in a relaxed environment outside controlled airspace.
The aero club has its own commercial flightseeing operation, Air Wakatipu, and there are several other tourist operators at the airport. That means there could be job opportunities for any club member who obtains a commercial pilot licence.
But not every pilot wants to fly for a living, and recreational flying is a large part of what we do. The club also welcomes qualified pilots who need to undertake specific mountain flying training, or who just wish to enhance their holiday experience by flying in the mountains under the guidance of an instructor.