Thursday, 14 April 2016

#38 - Helicopter Tour (Blue Sky Helicopters)

Ok, so you're not exactly likely to wake up hungover in your Sydney hostel, and casually decide over a late breakfast to head out for a helicopter tour that afternoon.  This one is a slightly bigger commitment than most of the things in the top 100.  

It was very nice of them to let us wear our own bum bags
For a start, it is expensive.  We paid about 550 dollars for a half hour private flight for two with Blue Sky Helicopters.  The route was from Sydney airport, past the harbour, up to Manly, then back to the airport via Bondi beach.  

The South Head from the sky
Secondly, you can't just turn up on a whim.  You need to book in advance, and you need to hope the weather plays ball.  The first time we booked, we turned up at their hut (yeah, it is literally a hut) just in time for the skies to open and hailstones to start carpeting the ground.  They waited for a bit to see if it would pass, but eventually had to admit defeat.  They offered us a time that didn't suit the next day, but since we were living there, we could easily reschedule for another time.  Worth being aware that you might not have that option if you have limited time on holiday.
We really loved our jobs at the call centre
There are cheaper options available, and you could do a 15 minute shared flight to the bridge and back for about 125 dollars.  If you find yourself constantly running out of space in your wallet for all the fifties, you might even want to avail of one of the fly and dine packages, or indeed the luxury health spa package.  These range from slightly over 1000 dollars per person upwards.  Frankly, if you have money to get rid of, I'm sure they will do their very best to accommodate you.

The Sydney Tower Eye with the harbour in the background
Anyway, as mentioned the office is just a little hut at the side of Sydney airport.  You can see the main runways, but you enter through a road that runs by the side of the airport, rather than the entrance you would use when catching a flight.  You turn up, have a look around the celebrity pictures around the walls, and get excited by some of the stunning photographs and videos taken on their tours.  Then you get a safety briefing, kitted out with some highly fashionable bum bags, and head out to your helicopter.

Damn sun - looking out West beyond Harbour Bridge
I think the helicopter can vary depending on which tour you do, but ours was a surprisingly small black number.  It looked a bit like something you'd expect a James Bond villain to escape in.  We were snugly squeezed into the back, given some headsets, and listened in as the pilot got permission to take off from air traffic control.

Listen, it's hard to get a clear shot from a moving helicopter, ok?
I don't think we would ever have forked out for the cost of this tour if we hadn't been doing this challenge, but we are really glad we did.  The trip was absolutely fantastic.  We flew over all the main sites, and got to see everything from varying heights.  You can see a lot of these if you fly in or out of Sydney on a commercial flight, but you get much closer on the helicopter tour, and the extra large windows ensure you get a really outstanding view.  You can take your camera by the way, and the pictures here were all taken by us.  You get a little reflection from the windows, but a good photographer could get some real breathtaking photos on this trip.

It's like a live version of Google Maps - this is Manly
We were lucky enough to get a glorious day for it, and we cruised over Sydney airport, the CBD, Darling Harbour, the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Manly, North Head, South Head, Bondi, Coogee and too many other landmarks to mention.  It is absolutely a big decision to commit so much cost towards one activity, but if you can afford it, and are considering it, then I would highly recommend it.  It was one of the best things we did in out whole time in Sydney.

Yeah, this is just the sun really
What's your view - unmissable and well worth the cost, or just a ridiculous amount of money to spend on a half hour trip?  As always, please leave a comment with your thoughts.

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