All Blacks captain Richie McCaw was a special guest at Easter Weekend's Warbirds Over Wanaka – and spoke about his other, less-well-known sporting passion – gliding.
Giving a commentary on a German Schleicher 27m-wingspan glider as its pilot executed a series of graceful banks and loops, McCaw, who has been a glider pilot since 2005, was able to give a verbal snapshot of the experience.
"It's a hell of a lot of fun," he said.
"We've got the best country in the world, and what better way to see it than from a bird's-eye view?"
The latest gliders were the most aerodynamically efficient winged craft ever, with an airfoil rating of 6 to 1, he said.
"A glider is unpowered, so has to make good use of wingspan and airfoil design. The latest gliders can travel 60 metres for every metre they drop, so that's a very efficient design – and on a great day you can fly 3000km."
McCaw was an ambassador for Glide New Zealand, and used the airshow opportunity to shed a little light on the sport.
"A lot of people think it's a tough sport to break into, but for teens and people aged up to 25 there's a youth glide programme of subsidised rates, and it's really worth checking out."
Gliding skills were the foundation of any flying, and "powered" pilots received some good-natured ribbing from McCaw, who said many could take classes on spotting where thermals or air turbulence were.
"It's funny, when you see the wind get up all the powered pilots will be packing up and heading in, and all the glider pilots will be prepping to get out there," McCaw said.
Nick Reekie, of Glide New Zealand, said anyone from Wakatipu or Southland interested in the sport was reasonably close to one of the gliding meccas of the world, Omarama, but could contact Gliding South, based in Five Rivers, for tips on how to get email@example.com