Whats the easiest way for
humans to fly? Without a doubt its parapenting.
Parapenting is a wonderful adventure sport that inspires a great
feeling of freedom, floating on the breeze under a controlled
descent to mother earth.
The parapente, or paraglider, as they are sometimes called, is a
clever combination of the parachute and hang-glider and possesses
the unique advantages of both. It really is a modified parachute
with wings that retain their shape by the inflation of multiple
cells through air pressure. It has very little weight like a
parachute (4 kgs compared with 25 kgs for a hang-glider), but the
parapente has a glide ratio similar to a hang-glider, allowing it
to be steered in any direction.
New Zealand has parapenting operators and training schools spread
throughout the country. The best way to experience the sport is
to take a tandem flight, where you are strapped in front of an
experienced pilot. You simply run down a slope and lift off into
space, literally walking on air and then gently glide down to
earth. The pilot uses steering toggles to slow the descent and
make a soft, stand-up landing.
Popular parapente sites include the top of the gondola hill in
Queenstown, Te Mata Peak in Hawkes Bay, Mt Iron in Wanaka,
and various high places in the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Taupo,
Nelson and Christchurch. Parasailing is another variation of
parachuting. This provides an exhilarating ride under a canopy
being towed by a boat or vehicle.
When you see the colourful canopies gliding gently to earth, grab
the chance to lift your spirits and fly.