The Best Scenic Flying Experiences in New Zealand
By now, you probably already realise that New Zealand is a land of diverse natural beauty. You don’t need us to tell you that the brilliant blue lakes, snow-capped peaks, giant glaciers, golden sand beaches and awe-inspiring volcanoes are monumental to even the most seasoned traveller. And, because you’re here, you probably don’t need us to tell you that seeing a combination of this scenery from a birds-eye perspective is an absolute must. Choose the right flight experience in New Zealand for you with this list of New Zealand’s best scenic flying experiences with options to suit all kinds of traveller.
While you’re here, you might also be interested in other experiences, such as the ones listed in the 101 Things to Do in New Zealand: The Ultimate List.
1. Landing on a Glacier in a Ski Plane
Let’s start with the most unique flight experience in New Zealand; landing on the Tasman Glacier in a ski plane. Flying alongside New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook, and landing on the country’s longest glacier can only be accomplished in a ski plane with Mount Cook Ski Planes and Helicopters. Just to tell you how special this experience is, Mt Cook is one of only two places in the world where you can land on a glacier in a ski plane. Find out more about this flight experience on the Mount Cook Ski Planes and Helicopters’ website.
2. Skydiving Over the Franz Josef Glacier
On the other side of the Southern Alps are more alpine wonders to behold. Better still, you can see them while freefalling at 200kph (120mph) from up to 20,000ft! That’s right, the town with the famous Franz Josef Glacier also happens to be home to Skydive Franz Josef & Fox Glacier. They take adventurous travellers on a scenic flight above the Franz Josef Glacier before launching them out of a perfectly good plane (in a much more professional manner than what we’ve just nonchalantly described). Learn more about this adrenaline-pumping flight experience in New Zealand on the Skydive Franz Josef & Fox Glacier website.
3. Flying Over New Zealand’s Largest Gannet Colony and Te Mata Peak
One of the most underrated flight experiences in New Zealand, Heletranz Hawkes Bay offers superb scenic flights over the diverse scenery of the Hawke’s Bay region. Take to the skies by helicopter and ascend over golden sand beaches, the art deco city of Napier, picture-perfect vineyards, and the craggy summit of Te Mata Peak. In between, you’ll get a unique perspective of the dramatic tectonic coastal cliffs of Cape Kidnappers, which holds the world-famous Cape Kidnappers Golf Course and New Zealand’s largest mainland gannet colony. Check out the Heletranz Hawkes Bay website for more details.
4. Soaring Over a City of Volcanoes
New Zealand’s natural landscapes certainly steal all the limelight, but there’s also something quite impressive about seeing an urban jungle sprawling between dormant volcanoes. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city and pretty spectacular to see from the sky, especially nestled between glistening harbour waters with ever-present views of off-shore island volcanoes. Check out this New Zealand flight experience with Heletranz Auckland.
5. Flying Over Remote Lord of the Rings’ Locations
Experience New Zealand as if you were in an epic fantasy… Or close to it! Nelson Tasman Air offers stunning scenic flights from the golden sands of the Abel Tasman National Park to the inspiring landscapes of Canaan Downs where The Lord of the Rings was filmed. “Ringer” or not, it’s hard not to be impressed by the ancient beech trees, scattered limestone outcrops, lush rolling meadows and Harwoods Hole – the deepest natural hole in the Southern Hemisphere. Discover more about this scenic flight in New Zealand on the Nelson Tasman Air website.
6. Skydiving Over Golden Sand Beaches in Abel Tasman…
Speaking of the Abel Tasman National Park, did you know you can also skydive over those glorious beaches and vibrant blue waters?! Choose from four exhilarating heights up to 20,000ft, each taking you on a stunning scenic journey by plane as you fly to the views of mountains, rivers, beaches and ocean. After an insane freefalling experience, you’ll be able to take it all in again under a peaceful parachute. Find out more about this tandem skydiving experience on the Skydive Abel Tasman website.
7. … Or Alongside New Zealand’s Highest Mountains and Bluest Lakes
Yes, there are more spectacular places to skydive in New Zealand, including Mt Cook. After a pretty intense freefall where you don’t take in anything other than the surreal feeling of falling through the sky, your tandem master opens your parachute and you’ll drift back to earth. Both the flight and the skydive gives you a breathtaking perspective from the end of the milky blue Lake Pukaki leading up to New Zealand’s highest peaks including Aoraki Mt Cook. Check out the experience on the Skydive Mt. Cook website.
8. Flying to Waiheke Island to Eat, Stay or Play
One of the outer islands of Auckland, Waiheke Island is surrounded by stunning South Pacific waters and offers many reasons to hop on a helicopter to get there. Fly to one of the island’s beautiful vineyards for a gastronomical experience or try a heli-horse trek over the island’s most remote parts. You could even enjoy an island escape by staying overnight in one of the luxury lodges, arriving in style in a helicopter. Plan your Waiheke Island getaway with Heletranz Waiheke.
9. Soaring Over Dramatic Fiords
Seeing the “Eighth Wonder of the World” is on the bucket list for many travelling the South Island. While taking a bus and doing a cruise is a popular way to see the iconic Milford Sound, a scenic helicopter or fixed-wing flight opens up this dramatic landscape further. Be wowed by glaciers, see the highest waterfall in New Zealand, be mesmerised by the distinct arms of the famous fiords and see much more along the way. Compare your flight experiences using the 5 Best Scenic Flights to Milford Sound from Queenstown.
10. Landing at Queenstown Airport
If you arrive in Queenstown by plane, you’re in for a treat. Home to the most scenic international airport in New Zealand, Queenstown Airport (ZQN) is surrounded by the jagged peaks of The Remarkables mountain range and the vast wasters of Lake Wakatipu. See how to fit in a landing at this picturesque airport with your itinerary in The Travellers’ Guide to New Zealand Airports.