A Moment with New Zealand Helicopter Pilot, Tim Barrow

A New Zealand local based in the stunning Rotorua, Tim Barrow spends his days in a helicopter soaring above the dramatic and inspiring landscapes of his homeland. It’s an enviable and adventurous lifestyle that we were eager to hear more about…


Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do….

I’ve been flying helicopters commercially since 1989, mostly in New Zealand and in particular the Bay of Plenty. Now I’m the Chief Pilot for Volcanic Air and even after 25 years, I’m convinced I’ll never tire of showing off our back yard. It’s awesome.

What’s it like looking down at these landscapes from the air?

It’s incredible, you gain an entirely new perspective of the beauty around you. The aerial overview of the White island is a great introduction to the action happening below and offers views that just can’t be gained from ground level. It’s just so incredibly diverse and unexpectedly beautiful.

What is your favourite part of your job?

I’d like to say all of it. Landing on the Volcano really has a wow factor, but walking around the activity is equally mesmerising. Flights to and from the island offer different experiences on different days across a landscape that is totally unique to this region.

And how close to the action can we really expect to get?

Very close. Right to the edge, in fact. But don’t worry, we’re very safety conscious and our pilots are well versed in delivering a special experience where safety is the priority.

Describe some of the wildlife you can see on White Island…

On the southern shores there’s a Gannet colony which can be seen approaching and departing the island. These beautiful sea birds fish in the rich waters that surround the island and on some occasions they lead us to schools of fish and dolphins pods which are more commonly seen in the summer months.

If you had 48hrs in the region what would you suggest we do, see and eat?

There is so much on offer in Rotorua and it all depends to a degree on individual’s time frame and taste.  Of course I would include a visit to the White Island and Mount Tarawera. I would also recommend the services of a local guiding company Multiday Adventures, these guys are wonderful hosts who have the ability to bring the best out of the region whether guiding you on a walk to the beautiful  Tarawera Falls, a cultural tour at Te Puia or even for the more adventurous a rafting trip down the Kaituna River. For something really unique try an authentic indigenous tasting experience “Ingo” where food is cooked in a cauldron heated from the geothermal activity at Te Puia, this is a modern twist on Maori Cuisine.