SkyWings is the longest operating Paragliding and Paramotoring School in New Zealand and was founded by legendary instructor Alan Hills with the support of his amazing wife Belinda. They started in the sport 30 years ago when paragliding first started in Auckland and flew and taught almost every flyable day since. Sadly, Alan passed on 23rd April 2022, but not before passing his wealth of knowledge and teaching skills to his great friend and Instructor Hunter Hawker. With 20+ years of working together his legacy is safely preserved.
Auckland enjoys a very mild climate and we fly and teach all year round with the exception of a month or two in the depth of winter when flying becomes extremely difficult and very infrequent.
We train mostly at the flight park which has a couple of small private inland training sites and make occasional trips to another much larger inland sites. In this way we vastly improve your safety by only flying at a select few of the best and safest sites early in your training when you are most at risk. These are sites that we are intimately familiar with so managing risk becomes far easier. We also have relationships with other paragliding schools so that towards the end of your training you can get exposure to other training methods to improve your learning.
You’ll train at the finest coastal ridge soaring in the world and this gives an amazing chance for new pilots to grow really quickly and safely in their skills, get a lot of airtime and emerge a more competent pilot.
With long soaring flights you really get to know your glider and understand the feel and handling much sooner. Our smooth coastal conditions allow you to master all your takeoff and landing techniques, and long hours soaring prepare you for confident and relaxed flying much sooner. SkyWings students graduate with more airtime than anywhere else in New Zealand.
If you wish to learn to paraglide, the most important question for you is not – how good is your instructor at flying? The most important question is – how good is your instructor at teaching?
SkyWings is proud to support the development of New Zealand's first coastal flight park. The majority of profit goes back into the flight park to build a quality resource for the paragliding community or 'Parammunity" Also the HighSide has bold community focused plans through the development of facilities for those suffering from anxiety or depression. As well as environmental goals of rehabilitating the land and eventually converting the existing farm back to trees as a nature park.
Schools that display the Parammunity logo also work together to deliver a more rounded learning experience for students nearing the end of their PG2 licence training, by providing an opportunity for them to get exposure to the teaching techniques of a different school at a vastly reduced rate..
Hunter has a strong foundation in Aviation and extreme sports that started with skydiving in the early 90’s and expanded to include rock climbing and many other outdoor pursuits. He started Paragliding in the year 2000 and has been obsessed with it ever since. Hunter is also a trained commercial pilot who flew for Air New Zealand and amassed over 3500hrs. He flew many different aircraft as well as aerobatics. He holds instructor ratings for aircraft, cars and motorbikes as well as paragliders so you could say that instructing is in his blood.
As a paraglider pilot he is extremely accomplished having excellent experience on mini wings and speedwings as well as acro flying, doing loops, SAT’s and tumbles. He has also flown many cross country flights including epic flights of 100km staying aloft for over 7.5hours.
Hunter has a vision for making paragliding in New Zealand the best that it can be. To developing a strong, inclusive and integrated community of pilots that support each other through thick and thin and remain connected until long after they can no longer fly. Such is his commitment to this goal he purchased the flight park just as it was about to be sold to a commercial wind farm, thereby saving the site for future generations.
To find out more about the flight park visit www.highside.nz
Where we fly.
The HighSide flight park.
Hunter now owns and operates SkyWings from his coastal flight park the HighSide at Karioitahi Beach.
The HighSide is Auckland's most popular flying destination due to it being excellent for flight training and flying socially. It gives access to a world class 35km long coastal playground and is New Zealand’s first and only coastal flight park. By training predominantly at the HighSide we develop familiarity and confidence which produces excellent outcomes for safety and progression. Also the height gained by flying at the 100m high coastal cliff allows space to practice and perfect necessary flight manoeuvres much easier than at most other Auckland training locations.
Our Teaching Philosophy
Of utmost importance is fostering the idea that “Paragliding is an experience that is uniquely yours” You get to be the judge of where you want to take the sport and how you will interact with it. Never compare yourself to others, you get to be the ultimate judge of how you will enjoy the sport. Be it competing, flying socially or going it alone… Flying smooth and relaxed or fast and extreme… Maybe all of it but at different times to suit your mood. Whatever the case as much can be taught in your attitude to flying as can be taught in the mechanics or skills of flying and the best pilots emerge from their training equiped with both. We’ve developed excellent techniques that progress a student as quickly and as safely as possible so you can rest assured that you will receive the best training possible and in the most fun and relaxed manner.