Staff and pilots

At Southern Lakes Helicopters, we pride ourselves on having highly skilled, experienced and professional staff who are passionate about the flight services we offer. Our pilots are amongst the most experienced in their field and boast a variety of specialised technical abilities including the operation of night vision technology. They have a good understanding of the diverse landscapes of Fiordland, Southland and Otago and the varied weather patterns characteristic of this part of New Zealand.

Our ground staff have extensive knowledge of both our flight services and the geography of the region. They can provide information and advice to ensure that all your flight requirements are met.

Sir Richard 'Hannibal' Hayes - Director, CEO & Chief Pilot

Sir Richard is a well known and respected pilot with 40 years of experience flying in the mountainous terrain of Fiordland, and has in excess of 28,000 helicopter flying hours. He operates with skill and professionalism and is heavily involved in Search and Rescue operations, often with the use of Night Vision Equipment. His skill and experience has been recognised nationally by being awarded the MNZM (Member of New Zealand Order of Merit) for his services to Search and Rescue. Sir Richard and Lady Carol Hayes also own and operate Heliworks, based at Queenstown airport.

Sir Richard's experience includes:

  • 40 years experience of flying in Fiordland, (general charter air transport and scenic flying).
  • Medical evacuations and extensive experience on SAR Missions including night, winch and scoop net operations.
  • Director, CEO & Chief Pilot of Southern Lakes Helicopters, and Heliworks, Queenstown.
  • Wild Animal Recovery operations including transmitter tracking, Search & Destroy missions, netting and live animal capture of deer, goats, tahr and chamois.
  • Helicopter Transmitter tracking for the endangered NZ Native bird "Takahe".
  • Supply drops, Avalanche Control - aerial dropping of explosives from helicopters.
  • Fire fighting and extensive long-line work.
  • Building repeater stations at altitude, which requires skill and precision as helicopter power is depleted at higher altitudes.
  • Sub-Antarctic Island DOC support, particularly Auckland Islands and Campbell Islands.
  • Southern Ocean off-shore support.
  • Lifting and Winch operations, concrete, buildings, pylons and wire stringing, tower construction unload supply boats at sea and lifting supplies to shore.
  • Season in Antarctica on AS350 rotor wing, providing support to Italian scientific research.
  • Holds Fire Fighting Unit Standard Personal Safety 3285

Andrew Hefford - Pilot

Andrew Hefford - Southern Lakes Helicopters pilotAndrew is from Te Anau and has been flying around Fiordland in between overseas tours for 10+ years. Has gained valuable experience in a broad range of operations both here and overseas.

Andrew's experience includes:

  • 4500hrs
  • logging support, mineral exploration, firefighting, animal and vegetation surveys, medivacs and general charter  throughout the Coastal Mountains and Rocky mountains of BC,  Canada.
  • Mining Support, oil and gas support, Lead pilot on seismic operations, medivacs, MIA ops for US military and general charter in Papua New Guinea.
  • Supported Antarctica NZ at Scott Base, Antarctica
  • Extensive Mountain Experience
  • Long lining, High altitude, Heli skiing, Mustering, Firefighting experience
  • SAR and Medivac experience with night vision googles, winch, scoop net and Sub Antarctic Island rescues
  • Filming and photography experience
  • Construction and concrete work


Michael Hayes - Pilot

Michael joined the team at Southern Lakes Helicopters in 2010. 
With a degree in Business Commerce, Michael adds his experience in tourism marketing and growing aviation knowledge to the company.

Michael's experience includes:

  • Scenic operations throughout the Southern Lakes and Fiordland areas.
  • Heli fishing and heli hunting operations.
  • Back country/mountain experience.
  • Long line sling operations.
  • Snow and flat light experience.
  • Wild animal recovery operations in Fiordland.
  • Cattle and deer mustering experience.
  • Aerial photography and filming work.

Sean (Snow) Mullally

Snow joined the team in 2015 after many years flying in Milford Sound. Snow has at least 20 years flying experience in the Fiordland area, and also flew commercially in Canada for a year which included fire fighting.

Snow's experience includes:
  • 9000 + hours flying experience
  • Filming and Photography flights
  • Wild animal recovery operations in Fiordland
  • SAR & Medivac experience, including NVG
  • Construction & Concrete work
  • Winch & scoop net trained
  • Heli-skiing
  • Mustering
  • Fire Fighting Unit standards 3285 & 14564
  • Huet Course


Sam Innes  - Pilot

Sam's experience includes:
  • 5500 + hours flying experience
  • 14 years flying experience
  • Filming and Photography flights
  • Wild animal recovery operations in Fiordland & Safari Hunting
  • SAR & Medivac experience
  • Construction & Longline experience
  • Winch & scoop net trained
  • Heli-skiing
  • Mustering
  • Fire Fighting Unit standards 3285 & 14564
  • Huet Course
  • In 2013 received NZSAR Gold award for a high altitude rescue near Mt Cook (as part of the South Westland Apline Cliff Rescue Team)

Rod Hall-Jones - Pilot

Rod has more than 20 years experience of flying in Fiordland, and posseses an impressive knowledge of the history and geographical features of the area. His professional experience includes delivering an impressive variety of air transport operations, including more than 6 years spent working with  aerial film crews.

Rod's experience includes:

  • 16,000 hours  flight time.
  • 6 years filming (aerial) experience in 23 countries with Cousteau Society.
  • A-Cat instructor - helicopter
  • B-cat instructor aeroplane
  • HUET course
  • Mustering experience
  • High Altitude experience
  • 5 years vension / live deer capture
  • Safari Hunting  (Red Deer, Chamois, Himalayan Thar)
  • Extensive experience in working with film crews (Lord of the Rings, Verticle Limit, Million Dollar Catch)
  • 20+ years Fiordland flying experience and vast knowledge of history and geographical information of the area.
  • Rod also flies fixed wing aircraft where he has 3000+ hours. For some time he owned a Spartan Bi-Plane which was the only remaining airworthy one of its kind in the world.

Chris Green - Pilot

Chris is currently working in Papua New Guinea however is available to fly for Southern Lakes Helicopters when he is home between tours. Chris has extensive experience of flying and an impressive range of technical skills and specialist knowledge. His experience includes flying in a variety of challenging mountainous and coastal environments including Mt Cook National Park, Fiordland and the Southern Coast.

Chris's experience includes:

  • 19 years flying experience, 8000 + hours helicopter
  • 7 years Westland Mt Cook National Park Scenic flying operations
  • 2 seasons in Canada on seismic and forestry support
  • 5 years in Papua New Guinea highland on mining support, oil & gas support
  • Lead pilot for seismic operations
  • Longline heavy lift in SA315 Lama and AS350
  • AeroTem Loop towing in AS 350 B3 through Eastern Highlands and Tabar Island, Papua New Guinea
  • High altitude experience
  • Extensive snow and flat light experience
  • Concrete work, line stringing, logging, wild animal recovery, fire fighting, heliskiing
  • B-Cat Instructor -  Check and Training Manager while in Papua New Guinea
  • Stewart Island and Muttonbird Island operation for last 8 years
  • Filming work
  • Frost fighting
  • Medivac/SAR Operations
  • NVG Operations

Lloyd Matheson - Operations Manager

Working closely with Richard Hayes, Lloyd handles many of the daily business operations from the office, and provides invaluable ground support when required. A former police sergeant with more than 25 years experience in Fiordland Search and Rescue, Lloyd is our first choice winch operator - a crucial role in rescues where conditions do not allow the helicopter to land.

Lloyd has been awarded the QSM (Queen's Service Medal) for his extensive services to the community through Search and Rescue. In 2010, Lloyd was appointed chairman of the New Zealand Helicopter Association in 2011. In 2015 he was appointed vice president of the Aviation Industry Association of NZ, and in 2016 was appointed President of Aviation New Zealand.

Erin, Ngaire, Lena and Marleen  - office staff

Whatever your question the friendly staff at the Te Anau base will be sure to help wherever they can. All initial inquiries should be directed to the office.