GPS Coordinates: -43.589, 172.716
Wind Direction: Take-off faces N/NE (LIGHT WINDS ONLY)
Minimum Pilot Rating: PG2 / HG Advanced
Access: Ride the gondola (for PG’s) up to the top station or drive along the Summit Road from Mt Pleasant to the saddle just before the track leading up to the gondola top station. Pilots wishing to use the gondola will be asked for their NZHGPA membership. If you do not have your membership card you will be refused entry.
Sign-in: There is a digital sign in procedure at reception. You should get your name added to the system and must sign-in before each flight. You also must sign-out of the system once you have finished flying for the day. Please follow this procedure, this is a fantastic facility and it would be a shame to lose it for not following these simple rules.
Take-off: From the gondola, walk down the grassed track (in the direction of Taylor’s Mistake) or walk up from the car park. You can rig and take-off from the track. You should be airborne well before the 10 m cliff that drops down to Summit Road. Be aware that the spur closest to the gondola station can trigger thermals and create turbulence if there is any wind coming from the north. It’s also worth a quick look into Lyttelton Harbour to see what the lower altitude wind is doing (there is a windsock on the eastern end of the Lyttelton harbour wall).
Landing: Top landing is possible in light winds (best at the saddle where you have parked).
There are two bottom landing options:
Heathcote Domain (LZ1) closest to the tunnel entrance. This landing option is small and not suitable for Hang Gliders. DO NOT LAND here if there is a cricket or football match in progress.
Ferrymead Domain (LZ2) is located further out towards the Ferrymead Heritage park and estuary. This is the best option for Hang Gliders.
CAUTION: Both LZ’s will be turbulent if the NE has arrived.
Flying: The cliffs and rocks below take-off face north and are a good source for thermals in the morning and early afternoon sun. From early afternoon, thermals will still be generated but the sun will be perpendicular to the rocks and face of John Britten, so you will find stronger thermals there. Climbing out from the gondola is a good starting point for crossing the harbour or flying down the summit ridge.
If the day is looking good, think about activating G853 to give you 5500 ft altitude limit.
From a safety perspective, you really do need to keep an eye on the progress of the NE sea breeze. The cold sea air will stay down low and you will be merrily thermalling away in light winds oblivious to the fact that there is a strong NE curling around Mt Pleasant spur. This is particularly the case in summer when the sea breeze is strongest. In late autumn/early spring this is much less of an issue.
The gondola operator has asked pilots not to fly close the gondola cars or cable.
DO NOT FLY WITHIN 100m OF THE GONDOLA BUILDINGS OR CABLES
DO NOT LAND
in the area within the red line on the image below.
Landing here is a risk to the horses and horse-riders of Heathcote Valley Riding School.
Flying from the Gondola
Watch local pilot Jean Brossard crossing from the Gondola across the Lyttleton Harbour.
With handy advice to help you on your next crossing!