The 12 Best Scenic Flights in New Zealand

Best scenic flights in New Zealand

🚁 Introduction to The Best Scenic Flights in New Zealand

New Zealand’s stunning landscapes, from rugged coastlines to snow-capped mountains and pristine lakes, are best appreciated from above.

Scenic flights in New Zealand provide an unparalleled opportunity to witness the country’s breathtaking beauty.

In this article, we’ll explore 12 of the best scenic flights in New Zealand, each offering a unique perspective of this diverse and awe-inspiring land.

1. Milford Sound Scenic Flight

A scenic flight over Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Park offers a bird’s-eye view of towering waterfalls, lush rainforests, and the iconic Mitre Peak.

The breathtaking landscapes of this UNESCO World Heritage Site are even more spectacular from the air.

πŸ—Ύ Location: Pick-up offered

⏰ Duration: 4 hours.

πŸ’° Average cost: $NZD600

πŸ”— Booking Links: Viator & BookMe

Milford Sound Scenic Flight

2. Queenstown Scenic Helicopter Flight

Embark on a helicopter flight over Queenstown, known as the “Adventure Capital of the World.” Soar above Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables mountain range, and the historic Skippers Canyon for an unforgettable aerial adventure.

πŸ—Ύ Location: 64 Grant Road, Frankton, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand.

⏰ Duration: From 20 minutes; prices may change depending on the duration of the flight.

πŸ’° Average cost: Starting at NZD$250

πŸ”— Booking Links: Viator & BookMe

Queenstown Scenic Helicopter Flight

3. Mount Cook Scenic Flight

Experience the awe-inspiring Southern Alps and New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki (Mount Cook), on a scenic flight from Tekapo.

As you glide through this stunning alpine region, you’ll witness vast glaciers, pristine lakes, and towering peaks.

πŸ—Ύ Location: Multiple locations and options depending on the operator you book with.

⏰ Duration: From 20 minutes to 60 minutes.

πŸ’° Average cost: Between NZD$400 to NZD$600

πŸ”— Booking Links: Viator & BookMe

Mount Cook Scenic Flight

4. Fox and Franz Josef Glacier Helicopter Tour

Explore the West Coast of the South Island on a helicopter tour of the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers.

Marvel at the blue ice and crevasses as you land on the glaciers, making this one of the most unique and exhilarating scenic flights in New Zealand.

πŸ—Ύ Location: Multiple locations and options depending on the operator you book with.

⏰ Duration: From 20 minutes to 60 minutes.

πŸ’° Average cost: Between NZD$250 to NZD$600

πŸ”— Booking Links: Viator & BookMe

Fox and Franz Josef Glacier Helicopter Tour

5. Abel Tasman Scenic Flight

With its golden beaches and crystal-clear waters, Abel Tasman National Park is a coastal paradise best seen from the air.

A scenic flight will reveal the intricate coastline, remote bays, and lush native forests of this renowned park.

πŸ—Ύ Location: 3 Tex Smith Lane, Frankton, Queenstown 9300 (Pick-ups available).

⏰ Duration: 4 to 5 hours (entire experience).

πŸ’° Average cost: NZD$600

πŸ”— Booking Links: Viator & BookMe

Abel Tasman Scenic Flight

6. Rotorua Geothermal Scenic Flight

Rotorua’s geothermal wonders, including boiling mud pools and geysers, are best appreciated from above.

A scenic flight over the region provides a fascinating perspective on the Earth’s natural forces at work.

πŸ—Ύ Location: Lakefront Drive, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand.

⏰ Duration: 30 minutes.

πŸ’° Average cost: NZD$300

πŸ”— Booking Links: Viator

Rotorua Geothermal Scenic Flight

7. Auckland City Scenic Flight

On a scenic Auckland City flight, get a bird’s-eye view of New Zealand’s largest city.

Soar over the iconic landmarks, including the Sky Tower, Auckland Harbour, and the Hauraki Gulf, for a unique perspective of the urban and coastal landscapes.

πŸ—Ύ Location: 234 Rosedale Road, Auckland

⏰ Duration: 35 minutes

πŸ’° Average cost: NZD$500

πŸ”— Booking Links: BookMe

Auckland City Scenic Flight

8. Stewart Island Scenic Flight

Stewart Island, New Zealand’s third-largest island, is a remote and pristine destination.

A scenic flight over the island reveals its rugged coastline, lush forests, and abundant birdlife, including the iconic kiwi.

πŸ—Ύ Location: 250 Ocean Beach Road, Ocean Beach, Invercargill 9814, New Zealand

⏰ Duration: All-day experience, including meals, entries to the park, and more.

πŸ’° Average cost: NZD$4500 (for two people)

πŸ”— Booking Links: Viator Package

Stewart Island Scenic Flight

9. Waiheke Island Scenic Flight

A short flight from Auckland, Waiheke Island is renowned for its vineyards, beautiful beaches, and coastal beauty.

An aerial tour offers a breathtaking view of this island paradise and its serene surroundings.

πŸ—Ύ Location: Auckland Ferry Terminal, Quay Street, Auckland CBD

⏰ Duration: Entire day experience, includes ferry (30-minute scenic flight)

πŸ’° Average cost: NZD$229

πŸ”— Booking Links: BookMe Package

Waiheke Island Scenic Flight

10. Marlborough Sounds Scenic Flight

The Marlborough Sounds, a network of intricate waterways and bays at the top of the South Island, provide an idyllic setting for a scenic flight. Take in the stunning vistas of these tranquil inlets and native forests from above.

πŸ—Ύ Location: 8 Dakota Street, Nelson Airport, Nelson 7011, New Zealand

⏰ Duration: 2 to 2.5 hours (allow 60 minutes for the scenic flight)

πŸ’° Average cost: NZD$3000 (for two people)

πŸ”— Booking Links: Viator Package

Marlborough Sounds Scenic Flight

11. Taupo Volcanic Zone Scenic Flight

Taupo, located in the central North Island, is home to a captivating volcanic landscape. An aerial tour over the Taupo Volcanic Zone allows one to witness the remarkable geothermal activity, including the spectacular Huka Falls.

πŸ—Ύ Location: Flights depart from Ferry Road – Taupo Boat Harbour (Next to Taupo Yacht Club)

⏰ Duration: 20 minutes.

πŸ’° Average cost: NZD$200

πŸ”— Booking Links:Β BookMe

Taupo Volcanic Zone Scenic Flight

12. Coromandel Peninsula Scenic Flight

The Coromandel Peninsula, known for its golden beaches and lush rainforests, is a coastal haven for visitors. A scenic flight over this region allows you to appreciate the intricate coastline, offshore islands, and the beauty of the Coromandel from a new perspective.

πŸ—Ύ Location: Varies; check on the Viator platform to see availability (if any).

⏰ Duration: 30 minutes.

πŸ’° Average cost: NZD$300 to $NZD500

πŸ”— Booking Links: Viator

Coromandel Peninsula Scenic Flight

πŸ“ What are the Best Times to Take Scenic Flights in New Zealand?

The best times to take scenic flights in New Zealand can vary depending on the region and the specific landscapes you want to experience. However, here are some general guidelines:

  • Spring (September to November): Spring brings blooming flowers and lush greenery. It’s an excellent time for scenic flights over landscapes that come to life after the winter months.
  • Summer (December to February): Summer is a popular time for scenic flights, as the weather is generally stable. You can enjoy clear skies, warm temperatures, and vibrant landscapes. This is ideal for flights over beaches, lakes, and mountainous regions.
  • Autumn (March to May): Fall foliage adds a splash of color to the landscapes, making autumn a picturesque time for scenic flights. Flights over forests and vineyards can be particularly stunning during this season.
  • Winter (June to August): Winter offers a unique perspective with snow-capped mountains and frost-covered landscapes. Scenic flights over snowy regions, glaciers, and mountain ranges can be breathtaking. However, weather conditions may be more variable, so checking for flight availability is essential.
  • Early Morning and Late Afternoon: Regardless of the season, early morning and late afternoon flights often provide the best lighting conditions for photography. The sun’s angle during these times can create long shadows and enhance the beauty of the landscapes.
  • Consider Weather Conditions: Keep an eye on weather forecasts and choose days with clear skies and good visibility. Unstable weather, rain, or low clouds can impact the quality of the scenic flight experience.
  • Special Events or Festivals: Check if any special events or festivals happen in the region during your visit. Some scenic flights may coincide with events, providing a unique and festive atmosphere.
  • Wildlife Viewing: If your scenic flight includes wildlife viewing opportunities, consider the specific seasons when certain species are more active or visible.

best times to fly

πŸ“Έ Photography Tips for the Best Scenic Flight Experience

Capturing stunning photos during a scenic flight can be challenging due to movement, reflections, and changing lighting conditions.

Here are some photography tips to help you get the best scenic flight experience in New Zealand:

  1. Use a Fast Shutter Speed: To freeze the Aircraft’s motion and minimize blur, use a fast shutter speed. This is especially important when shooting from a moving platform like a helicopter or small plane.
  2. Bring the Right Equipment: Use a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a zoom lens for versatility. A wide-angle lens can capture expansive landscapes, while a telephoto lens can help you zoom in on specific details.
  3. Adjust Camera Settings: Set your camera to aperture priority or manual mode to control over settings. Adjust the aperture for depth of field and use a lower ISO setting to minimize noise. Experiment with different settings to find the right balance.
  4. Focus on Composition: Pay attention to composition by following the rule of thirds. Place key elements like mountains, lakes, or coastlines along these lines for a visually appealing result.
  5. Consider the Window Reflection: Be mindful of reflections on the window glass. Shoot at an angle to the window rather than straight through it to reduce reflections. You can also use a lens hood to minimize reflections.
  6. Timing is Key: Capture the best lighting by flying during the golden hoursβ€”early morning or late afternoon. The warm, soft light enhances the colors of the landscape and adds depth to your photos.
  7. Shoot in RAW Format: Shooting in RAW allows for more flexibility in post-processing. You can adjust exposure, contrast, and color balance without losing image quality.
  8. Watch for Unique Perspectives: Look for unique angles and perspectives. Experiment with different viewpoints to create more dynamic and exciting photos.
  9. Include the Aircraft in the Frame: Occasionally, include part of the aircraft in your shots to provide a sense of scale and context. This can add a storytelling element to your images.
  10. Use Image Stabilization: If your camera or lens has image stabilization, turn it on. This feature helps compensate for vibrations and movements, resulting in sharper images.
  11. Be Mindful of Gear Weight: Consider the weight of your camera gear, especially if you’re on a smaller aircraft. Pack only the essentials to avoid discomfort and ensure safety.
  12. Be Ready for Quick Changes: Scenic flights offer rapidly changing landscapes. Be ready to adapt to different scenes quickly to take advantage of all photographic opportunities.

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