Scenic flight over the stunning Southern Alps

A Bird’s Eye View: Scenic Flights Over New Zealand’s Spectacular Landscapes

New Zealand offers an unparalleled experience that captivates the hearts of visitors from all over the world. With its enchanting landscapes, diverse natural wonders, and awe-inspiring views. 

In this beautiful country, a scenic flight is more than a mode of transportation; it’s an unforgettable adventure that provides a thrilling bird’s eye view of the stunning vistas below.

Scenic flights in New Zealand provide an exclusive opportunity to witness the intricate tapestry of its natural wonders, revealing hidden gems inaccessible by conventional means.

Each flight tells a story of the land’s rich history, geological marvels, and ecological diversity, from the dramatic fjords of Milford Sound to the rugged beauty of the West Coast.

By including a scenic flight in your New Zealand itinerary, you will not only gain a deeper appreciation for the country’s jaw dropping beauty, but you will also create lifelong memories.

So strap in for an extraordinary journey that will leave you spellbound and yearning for more of New Zealand’s magical landscapes.

Aerial views of Lake Wakatipu

Soaring Above the Natural Beauty of New Zealand: The Advantages of Scenic Flights in Aotearoa

If you’re still undecided about flying, we’ve compiled a list of compelling reasons to partake in this unique adventure during your visit to Aotearoa.

The following are some of the reasons why you should consider taking a scenic flight in New Zealand, as they provide unparalleled opportunities to immerse yourself in the country’s breathtaking beauty, learn about its rich history and geology, and make the most of your time in this enchanting corner of the world.

A unique point of view

Imagine marvelling at the vivid colours of the Tongariro volcanic lakes, seeing the dramatic meeting of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean at Cape Reinga, or admiring the intricate patterns formed by the Canterbury Plains’ braided rivers.

Each aerial view reveals a new layer of beauty, allowing you to fully appreciate the vastness and magnificence of New Zealand’s natural wonders.

A scenic flight not only provides a visual feast, but also a better understanding of the geological and ecological processes that have shaped New Zealand over millennia.

Every panoramic view tells a story of the land’s rich history and natural splendour, from the rugged terrain of the Southern Alps to the lush forests of the Coromandel Peninsula.

Cover a lot in a short amount of time

There are many remote and difficult-to-reach areas in New Zealand. Scenic flights can save you time by quickly covering large distances, allowing you to see more in less time.

Access to outlying areas

Some of New Zealand’s most beautiful locations are inaccessible by car or foot. Scenic flights allow you to explore these remote areas, such as glaciers, fjords, and alpine lakes.

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (bucket list material)

A scenic flight can leave you with lasting memories and be the highlight of your trip. A scenic flight provides stunning views and unique perspectives that are difficult to match.

Expert knowledge

Scenic flight operators frequently provide informative commentary, sharing their knowledge of the area’s history, geology, and ecology. This gives your experience more depth and context.

Designed specifically for you and your group

Many scenic flight operators in New Zealand offer a variety of tour options to suit various budgets, interests, and timeframes.

You can fly in a helicopter or a fixed-wing aircraft, take a short or long tour, and even combine your flight with other activities like hiking, glacier walking, or wildlife encounters.

Excellent for photography enthusiasts

The aerial views you’ll get on a scenic flight are ideal for taking photos that showcase the beauty of New Zealand’s landscapes.

Top Scenic Flight Experiences for Exploring New Zealand’s Breathtaking Beauty

We’ve selected some of the best scenic flight experiences in New Zealand. Each destination has its own distinct charm and geological wonders, promising a visual and emotional journey that will capture your imagination and leave you with a renewed appreciation for this extraordinary country.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a well-known destination in Fiordland National Park. Scenic flights provide views of fjords, waterfalls, and lush rainforests.

Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound, another stunning fjord in Fiordland National Park, is often referred to as the less-crowded alternative to Milford Sound. Scenic flights in this area provide a more remote and tranquil experience, displaying vast wilderness, deep fjords, and cascading waterfalls.

The Southern Alps and Mount Cook

Flying over Mount Cook and the Southern Alps provides special views of glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and glacial lakes.

Glaciers Franz Josef and Fox

Because of their proximity to both the mountains and the sea, these two glaciers on the West Coast of the South Island are unique. Scenic flights are an excellent way to appreciate their natural beauty and scale.

National Park Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman National Park, located at the northern tip of the South Island, is famous for its golden beaches and crystal-clear waters. A scenic flight provides breathtaking views of this coastal paradise.

Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands on the North Island is well-known for its turquoise waters, abundant marine life, and historical significance. Scenic flights allow you to see this beautiful area from above.

National Park Tongariro

The North Island’s UNESCO World Heritage site is home to three active volcanoes: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu. Scenic flights provide timeless views of volcanic landscapes, emerald lakes, and rare alpine vegetation. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of New Zealand’s most popular day hikes, is also located in the park.

Plains of Canterbury

The Canterbury Plains, located in the South Island, are defined by vast, flat agricultural land framed by the Southern Alps in the west and the Pacific Ocean in the east. A scenic flight here offers views of the braided rivers, patchwork farmland, and scenic coastline.


Queenstown, New Zealand’s “Adventure Capital,” is surrounded by the dramatic Remarkables mountain range and the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wakatipu. Views of rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and the popular ski fields of Coronet Peak and The Remarkables can be seen from scenic flights in this area.

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo, located in New Zealand’s central North Island, was formed by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. A scenic flight over Lake Taupo reveals its stunning blue waters, the striking Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay, and nearby geothermal attractions such as Wairakei Terraces and Craters of the Moon.


Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, offers scenic flights that showcase its diverse urban landscape, including the iconic Sky Tower, the volcanic cones of Rangitoto and Mount Eden, and the scenic Hauraki Gulf with its many islands, including Waiheke and Rotorua.


Kaikoura, on the east coast of the South Island, is famous for its marine life, which includes whales, dolphins, and seals.

Views of the rugged coastline, the Kaikoura Peninsula, and the snow-capped Seaward Kaikoura Range are available from a scenic flight over Kaikoura. Whale watching flights are also popular, as they allow passengers to see sperm whales and other marine species from the air.

White Island

White Island, also known as Whakaari, is an active marine volcano off the coast of the North Island’s Bay of Plenty.

Scenic flights to White Island provide views of the dramatic volcanic landscape, which includes a steaming crater lake, fumaroles, and sulfur deposits.

National Park of Mount Aspiring

Mount Aspiring National Park is located on the South Island and is part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. Views of towering mountain peaks, including Mount Aspiring itself, as well as glaciers, alpine lakes, and lush valleys, can be seen from scenic flights in this region.

Rakiura/Stewart Island

Stewart Island, located off the southern coast of the South Island, is New Zealand’s third-largest island and home to Rakiura National Park. Views of the pristine coastline, untouched native forests, and diverse birdlife, including the kiwi, can be had from scenic flights here.

South Island’s West Coast

The South Island’s West Coast is known for its rugged beauty, rainforests, and dramatic coastal scenery. Scenic flights in this area may include views of Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks, the remote beaches of Paparoa National Park, and the region’s lush rainforests.

National Park Aoraki/Mount Cook

In addition to Mount Cook, the park contains a plethora of other stunning peaks, glaciers, and alpine landscapes. Scenic flights in this area provide spectacular views of the Tasman Glacier, Hooker Valley, and the surrounding Southern Alps.

The Peninsula of Coromandel

The Coromandel Peninsula, located on the east coast of the North Island, is known for its beautiful beaches, lush forests, and dramatic volcanic landscapes. Scenic flights here highlight the beautiful coastal scenery, which includes Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach.

Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay, on the east coast of the North Island, is a well-known wine region with a diverse landscape. Scenic flights provide views of the region’s rolling vineyards, picturesque coastline, and the Art Deco architecture of Napier, one of its major cities.

Understanding the Differences Between Scenic Flights by Helicopter and Plane

Scenic flights can be taken in both helicopters and small planes. The type of aircraft used is determined by the tour operator, the specific location, and the type of experience desired.

Helicopter: Helicopter flights provide greater maneuverability and landing capabilities. They have the ability to hover, fly at lower altitudes, and land in remote areas that fixed-wing aircraft cannot. As a result, they are an excellent choice for tours that include glacier landings or visits to inaccessible locations.

Small plane: They typically have a high wing design for improved visibility and can carry a small number of passengers (usually 4 to 10). Small planes use less fuel and can travel longer distances at a lower cost. They, however, require proper landing strips or airports and, unlike helicopters, cannot land on glaciers or in remote areas.

The decision between a helicopter and a plane is influenced by factors such as:

The location: Some places may be better suited for helicopter tours, while others can be easily explored by fixed-wing aircraft. Glacier landings, for example, are only possible with helicopters, whereas scenic flights over larger areas may be more feasible with a plane.

Tour company: Different operators may specialize in one or both types of aircraft. Your decision will be influenced by the options available in the region you are visiting.

Budget: Because helicopter flights are typically more expensive than fixed-wing aircraft flights due to higher operational and maintenance costs, you may prefer a fixed-wing aircraft tour if you have a limited budget.

When booking a scenic flight, you can choose between helicopter and plane, depending on the available options in the area you’re visiting.

Both options have distinct advantages, so the choice comes down to personal preference, budget, and the specific experience you seek.

As you fly above the scenic views, you’ll gain a better understanding of the country’s rich history, geological wonders, and ecological diversity.

Your scenic flight experience in Aotearoa will be an unforgettable adventure, leaving you with cherished memories that will last a lifetime, whether you choose a helicopter or a plane.

Take a flight through the skies of New Zealand and let the breathtaking beauty of this enchanting land etch itself into your heart and soul.

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