New Zealand is all about stunning landscapes and wide-open spaces that open up to panoramic vistas. The majestic mountains, simmering volcanoes, dramatic lakes, dense teeming forests and a pristine coastline, all come together to proffer some of the most spectacular sightseeing in the world. Blessed with an exquisite other-worldly beauty, New Zealand is a holiday haven that offers so much more than just sightseeing. Apart from a serene holiday, you can set your pulse racing and get your heart pumping with a wide selection of adventures sports.
From sky diving to scuba diving, you can choose to enjoy a holiday that is a blur of adrenaline-fuelled activity. But there is one activity that combines the excitement of an adventure and the allure of sightseeing. A helicopter tour of New Zealand is a wonderful way to get your sightseeing done with just the right hint of drama and adventure. It is an unforgettable experience that showcases the best of New Zealand in all senses. The sights take on a different appeal from the bird’s eye view. The change in perspective offers new insights into New Zealand’s alluring beauty.
There is no dearth of choices when it comes to helicopter tours in New Zealand. Here are some of the best helicopter tours you can take to enjoy New Zealand from a different perspective.
Milford Sound is a bewitching diorama of dramatic natural beauty that will surprise you at every turn. Carved by the glaciers during the ice ages, it is Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’. From lofty mountain peaks to the fjord’s vertical cliffs, everything at Milford Sound feels larger than life. A helicopter ride is the best way to explore the wild appeal of this UNESCO World Heritage Area. You have a plethora of options for a helicopter ride over Milford Sound which range from 1.5 hours to half a day.
Most of the tours start from Queenstown, and let you explore the Fiordland National Park and get the Ariel view of the Tasman Sea and Mitre Peak. You can even land near the coast and go for a nature walk. But the highlight of the tour has to be the glacier landing on Mt Tutoko. It sets you down atop the vast glacier amidst a rugged landscape surrounded by mountains. Ask around Queenstown for a reliable tour operator.
The two glaciers, Fox and Franz Josef, are humbling in their humongous scale. The fox glacier is especially impressive as it flows 13 km over a descent of around 2,600 metres. The ice is over 300 metres thick in some places! With a combination of a steep valley floor and heavy snowfall, both the glaciers mover over 10 times faster than regular glaciers. The river valley at the foot of the Franz Josef Glacier has been carved out in a dramatic fashion over millennia of advancing and retreating glaciers.
Helicopter rides over these glaciers range from 30 minutes to an hour. It includes vast panoramas of the glaciers themselves, accompanied by a live commentary from the pilots. You can choose between the two glaciers to land. Explore the stark ice-scape strewn with glowing blue ice fields, frozen icefalls and plunging crevices. You can book your tour from the Franz Josef Helicopter Base.
It seems all good things in New Zealand come in a pair, like Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound, which are two of the most spectacular fjords in New Zealand. In fact, Dusky Sound is the largest one of them all. It is 40 km long and is dotted with 350 islands! It possesses that rare beauty which is highly reminiscent of Tolkein’s Middle Earth. Doubtful Sound has earned the sobriquet of ‘Sound of Silence’ with its blanket of serenity that cocoons you in a warm tranquillity. There are several spectacular waterfalls along this fjord that simply add to its magic.
A helicopter ride over these twin fjords includes sweeping aerial views of the Kepler Mountains and Lake Manapouri. The views are backed by an insightful commentary. Some tours also include two landings that let you explore both the fjords at your leisure. Most tours operate from Te Anau Airport.
The Jura Glacier is located amidst New Zealand’s Southern Alps and like any self-respecting glacier has dramatically influenced the landscape. Even the impressive peaks around it fail to subdue the majesty of this rugged river of ice as it effortlessly dominates the surrounding area. Take in the splendour of the Southern Alps even as you hike around the glacier in search of photo opportunities.
Your helicopter tour will start from the Helicopter Line heli-base at the Lucas Place Queenstown Airport. You can enjoy the aerial views of Mt Aspiring as your helicopter follows the meandering Rees and Dart River Valleys. Your tour will include a snow landing on the Jura Glacier to enjoy the serene behemoth from up-close.
Perhaps the most majestic mountain in New Zealand, Mt Cook is also the tallest one in the entire country. Its climbing list includes the who’s who from the sport of mountain climbing. After all, this is where Sir Edmund Hillary honed his climbing skills while preparing for his Everest ascent. While the State Highway 80 is the lone road that takes you to the mountain, the best way to experience Mt Cook is in a helicopter. Surrounded by the Mt Cook National Park, your aerial approach will be one filled with picturesque locales within the park.
Your helicopter ride around Mt Cook will take you through the rugged topography of the Ben Ohau Mountain Range before setting you down in a snowfield high amidst the mountains. It will take your over Lake Pukaki which will wow you with its stark beauty. You can find helicopter tours operating from Glentanner Holiday Park located within the Mt Cook National Park.
The Bay of Islands is a tiny world within itself. A subtropical micro-region, it will lure you with its stunning beauty studded with golden beaches and plenty of water sports. It is a collection of 144 islands that come together to offer you a memorable experience even amidst the exceedingly spectacular beauty of New Zealand itself. The Hole in the Rock is a natural archway carved out patiently by the ocean over the millennia. It is an iconic landmark in a country that is blessed with an unbelievable natural allure.
Your helicopter will give you a bird’s eye view of this natural phenomenon and even set you down at the location if you so wish. Zoom over the historic townships of Waitangi, Paihia and Russell and admire Cape Brett from the best vantage point. You can book your tour from the mainland or find one at the Paihia helipad.
A helicopter tour of New Zealand is like flying through the fantastical world of Middle Earth. With an astonishing variety in landscapes, no two helicopter tours will be the same. Fly alongside New Zealand’s soaring spirit as you explore the fjords, the mountains, the islands and the ocean.