About Us

Kaikoura Helicopters Ltd is owned and operated by Dave and Chelsea Armstrong. After 26 years of operation, Kaikoura Helicopters continues to grow and develop as a professional tourism enterprise. Our fleet consists of 2 Robinson R44’s (3 passengers) and 1 Eurocopter AS350 BA (6 passengers). Our team of 3 pilots and 2 sales staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic to assist.

Kaikoura is world renowned for its whale watching – it also boasts some of the most spectacular scenery New Zealand has to offer. Helping you experience this is Kaikoura Helicopters, the most experienced aerial whale watching company in the world.

We can have you lifting off from our centrally located heli – pads and within minutes be in the spectacular environment that plays host to the magnificent Sperm Whale. From the comfort of our helicopter, experience this ultimate vantage point, viewing the entire whale from head to tail.
Our exclusive alpine flights allow you to get up close and personal with some of the highest mountains in New Zealand. Land at altitude amongst the stunning Kaikoura Seaward Ranges and encounter 360 - degree views of this unique and rugged coastline.

We also offer scenic flights, heli hikes, heli picnics, heli rafting, heli biking, charters, nationwide transfers, weddings, hunting, film and photography, gift vouchers, and all aspects of commercial helicopter work.

We fly everyday on demand, except Christmas Day. We welcome families with small children, the elderly, people with disabilities and those who may suffer from sea – sickness. Children under the age of 3, fly for free.


Dave Armstrong commenced whale watching by helicopter in 1990. Dave operated from a small office at the beachfront heli pads with a Robinson R22, which accommodated 1 passenger. The whale watching flights were only 20 minutes long to begin with, but an extension was needed because the time allocated to search for a whale was to restricted. Dave used a system of landlines and distances to keep a track of the whales, because the GPS had not yet been invented. In 1991 Dave began leasing larger aircraft to accommodate an increase in passenger numbers. In 1996 Dave’s son Lee completed his commercial pilots license and began flying for the company in 1997. Tourism has always been the main stay, and the commercial arm of the business is continuously expanding. Kaikoura Helicopters continues to grow and develop as a professional tourism operation with an increase in aircraft, staff and flight options on offer. Kaikoura Helicopters is the most experienced aerial whale watching operation in the world that offers flights all year round.

Kaikoura Helicopter Team

Our friendly and professional team takes pride in the services offered and always aims to provide the utmost satisfaction to our passengers, delivering an exciting and everlasting memory of the beautiful Kaikoura coastline.
Dave Armstrong
Managing Director, Operations Manager, Training Manager
Chelsea Armstrong
CEO, Sales and Marketing
Lee Armstrong
Senior Pilot
Kurtis Smyth


Kaikoura Helicopters professionally trained pilots are highly experienced, flying both in the whale watching area and in New Zaealand Alpine environments. All pilots have undertaken the Helicopter Underwater Evacuation Technique (HUET) watercourse and are knowledgeable in every aspect of Kaikoura’s marine mammals and their environment. The team is qualified to ensure your safety both in the air and on the ground. All staff hold current first aid and dangerous goods certificates.

Kaikoura Helicopters – Fleet

We operate smaller aircraft purely to provide the ultimate vantage point with un-paralleled panoramic views.


2 x Robinson R44


  • 3 Passengers
  • Passenger views are unobstructed due to the open cabin design
  • Comfortable leather seats
  • High observation bubble windows
  • Every seat is a window seat
  • Everyone has a headset for inflight commentary
  • Fitted with pop out floats
  • Exceptional visibility
  • GPS, VHF and FM Radios
  • Cargo pods available
  • Storage under each seat


1 x Eurocopter AS350 BA


  • 6 Passengers
  • High observation bubble windows
  • Everyone has a headset for inflight commentary
  • Up to 80 KG of baggage may be stowed in the rear baggage compartment
  • GPS, VHF and FM radios
  • Cargo pod available