Success built on passion, hard work
Everyone loves to hear a good news story about a kiwi company rising from humble beginnings to be a success story Heliventures New Zealand Ltd is a shining example. Craig McMillan grew up living and breathing helicopters.
His parents owned a helicopter company in the 80’s that they operated from their Oamaru home until the business was sold.
Inheriting his late father’s passion for aviation, Craig carried on sweeping the hangar floors, becoming ground crew and eventually gaining all his licenses, enabling him to work for operators throughout the South Island doing mostly agricultural work.
Around 2010 Craig met Nicki, but had only known her for a short time before he adventured off to Canada to fl y helicopters looking for minerals and transporting drilling crews out the back of beyond in the Yukon.
Returning in 2011, Nicki and Craig became partners in life and business, making the bold decision to start a heli-business from scratch.
“We were both 24 years olds when our first helicopter arrived—an MD-520N Notar— with no clients on the books,” says Nicki.
“We just worked very hard at building up our client base—operating from the same bare paddock Craig’s parents used to operate from—doing agricultural work in those days.”
Seven years later, the business operates five MD-520N Notars and one B2 Squirrel from both Oamaru and Invercargill Airports, with a team of six pilots, seven ground crew plus administration staff and has expanded to include commercial, agricultural and scenic operations.
From Oamaru, Heliventures NZ cover South Canterbury, North Otago and over to Central Otago right through to Mount Cook and as far south as Palmerston. From Invercargill, Heliventures NZ flies to Stewart Island up to Balclutha and across to Te Anau.
“All our helicopters are fitted out with leather interiors, so they can be used for passenger flights as well as agricultural services including fertiliser spreading, spraying and seeding,” says Nicki.
Complementing its agricultural, scenic and charter work Heliventures NZ provides an impressive array of commercial operations, as Nicki explains.
“We do mustering and animal control, including the culling of deer, goat and wallabies and we specialise in live animal capture.
“We’ve just done some live wallaby capture so they can be fitted with GPS tracking collars. We do fire fighting and lighting, especially useful in high country for tussock burn-off.
“We’re kept busy frost fighting for vineyards and orchards over winter and we do survey work power line conductor stringing and fault finding. Our pilots also do a lot of precision lifts, film, photography, hunting and fishing trips”
Heliventures NZ has recently teamed up with local jet boating company Braided River jet Boating to provide a heli-jet boat combo experience on the Waitaki River.
Proud of Heliventures NZ’s growth and development, Craig and Nicki put it down to a passion for the business itself, a huge amount of hard work and a remarkable team.
“We all live and breathe the business and put so much effort into it. Our team is so passionate about Heliventures NZ as well. We’re lucky to have such a good team because we couldn’t do it without their support.”
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