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Mt Aspiring & Glaciers $299pp (was $330)

Date: July 28th, 2021, Posted by admin

Experience our Mt Aspiring Scenic Flight – The Matterhorn of the South!

View Mt Aspiring (Tititea) and the glaciers of the Mount Aspiring National Park on this 50 min scenic flight. We believe that this trip should be on the bucket list of every visitor to Wanaka as it is an incredible experience and currently on sale at $299pp for a 50 min scenic fixed wing flight.

Mt Aspiring Scenic Flight Highlights

  • Birds eye views of Lake Wanaka and Hawea Townships
  • Treble Cone ski field
  • Scenic Matukituki Valley
  • View the Bonar and Voltar glaciers
  • Fly past the peak of 3030m Mt Aspiring – the Matterhorn of the South
  • World Heritage Mount Aspiring National Park
  • Incredible, close up views of the Southern Alps

For those with a thirst for more adventure – our legendary Scenic Epic Trip combines Mt Aspiring, Mt Cook & Milford Sound for an unforgettable 3 hour tour.

Full Mt Aspiring Scenic Flight Information

Your flight begins at Wanaka airport – just a 10 min drive from Wanaka Town Centre. Beforehand we will have asked you to complete a weather check on the morning of your flight.

wanaka scenic flight at wanaka airport with southern alps air
Greet your plane at the tarmac

Southern Alps Air operates its own hangar & booking office at Wanaka airport. Our friendly team will get you checked in and brief you on the flight details. Then you will meet your SAA pilot who is an expert in flying this region. Everyone gets a window seat at Southern Alps Air and our aircraft fleet is comfortable and well maintained.

Take off with a birds eye view of Lake Wanaka and the township. You will also see neighbouring Lake Hawea, all bordered by the mighty Southern Alps mountain range. Your pilot will point out locations of interest as you fly towards the Mt Aspiring National Park.

southern alps air birds eye view of lake wanaka and mountains on flight to milford sound
A birds eye view of beautiful Lake Wanaka

You will pass the Treble Cone Ski area on the way up the scenic Matukituki Valley which is bordered by native beech forest. Plus, you will be surrounded by World Heritage scenery with views of mountain peaks and waterfalls. As you fly closer to Mt Aspiring, its glaciers come into view and the scenery becomes even more spectacular.

Scenic Flight around Mt Aspiring in Wanaka, New Zealand. With Southern Alps Air

Finally return to Wanaka after a 50 minute scenic flight that has shown you the best of Mt Aspiring National Park. When you fly with Southern Alps Air everyone gets a window seat, personal pilot commentary and a scenic flight that has been voted 5* and a “must do Wanaka activity”.

Mt Aspiring National Park

Mt Aspiring is at the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park, part of Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. Maori named Mount Aspiring “Tititea”, which means ‘steep peak of glistening white’. At 3030 metres high, Mt Aspiring is often called the ‘Matterhorn of the South’ due to it’s pyramidal, photogenic peak.

You will have the opportunity for photos and views in every direction, while appreciating the scale and grandeur of this region. In addition, you will also be able to see both the Bonar and Voltar glaciers – which are snow covered throughout the year.

Mt Aspiring Scenic Flight FAQ’s

How far is Mt Aspiring from Wanaka?

Mt Aspiring (Tititea) is approximately 47.5km from Wanaka (as the crow flies). Our Mt Aspiring scenic flight is 50 mins in duration and takes you up the Matukituki Valley and into the World Heritage scenery of the Mount Aspiring National Park.

How tall is Mt Aspiring?

Mt Aspiring is 3033m, which makes it New Zealand’s highest mountain outside of the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

Why is Mt Aspiring called “The Matterhorn of the South”?

Mt Aspiring is often referred to as the Matterhorn of the South because of its distinctive, pyramidal peak which is similar to that of The Matterhorn in the European Alps. It sharp ridges makes it a technical climb and it was first ascended in 1909.

Posted in: Featured, Milford Sound Deals & Wanaka Flight Specials, Scenic Flights

Milford Sound from Wanaka (Fly Cruise Fly + Glaciers) $499pp (was $580)

Date: February 1st, 2021, Posted by admin

Fly further & see 100+ glaciers with Southern Alps Air

This is an incredible price for a Milford Sound fly-cruise-fly from Wanaka package. By departing/returning to Wanaka you get an extra 25 mins of scenic fight time, plus you will see over 100 glaciers and get amazing views of Mt Aspiring (named the Matterhorn of the South)!

Lunch can generally be purchased on the scenic boat cruise or a pre-ordered picnic lunch can be arranged. Please let the Southern Alps Air team team know when you check in for your flight

Short on time? Then check out our Wanaka to Milford Flyover Trip here.

Milford Sound from Wanaka (Fly Cruise Fly) Trip Highlights

  • Scenic views of Lake Wanaka & Mt Aspiring on this 4 hour trip
  • Fly past 100 glaciers & over 2 pristine National Parks
  • Stunning alpine lakes & vast temperate rainforests
  • Land into Milford Sound – the “8th Natural Wonder of the World”
  • Cruise the length of the Sound (16km) on a smaller, more intimate vessel
  • View native wildlife such as seals, penguins and dolphins
  • Return flight takes you via the Dart Valley and Glenorchy
  • Fly over Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu & gold bearing Shotover River
  • Informative, personal commentary from your experienced pilot
  • Choice of morning or afternoon departures
  • You can usually purchase lunch on the scenic boat cruise or a pre-ordered picnic lunch can be arranged

Full Milford Sound Trip Description

Your scenic flight to Milford Sound departs from Wanaka Airport and takes you through the UNESCO World Heritage area of Te Wahipounamu. This includes two of New Zealand’s most picturesque National Parks – the Mt Aspiring & Fiordland National Parks. The landscapes are unspoilt, remote and best viewed from the air!

Stunning views of Mt Aspiring National Park

View remote alpine lakes nestled amongst soaring snowcapped mountain peaks and pristine glaciers, with vast rainforest and cascading waterfalls visible from every seat!

Mt Aspiring and Glaciers – only viewed when flying from/to Wanaka!

Once landed safely into Milford Sound landing strip you will jump on your Milford cruise. We choose a smaller, more intimate vessel for our Milford Fly-Cruise-Fly tour as it makes experiencing the sheer mile high cliffs and waterfalls even more special. Complimentary tea and coffee is also provided.

You will cruise the 16km length of the Sound and out to the Tasman Sea (weather dependent). This allows you to appreciate the scale and grandeur of Milford Sound and its waterfalls. It also gives you lots of opportunity to spot our native wildlife. Seals & penguins often make an appearance and some lucky guests may also spot dolphins in the sheltered waters.

A birds eye view of Milford Sound – called the “8th Wonder of the World”

Once your cruise arrives back at the wharf your pilot will be ready to escort you back to your plane for your return scenic flight to Wanaka. Return via the spectacular Dart Valley and over the famous township of Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakatipu. This location was used extensively in the Lord of the Rings movies with the mountains of the Dart / Rees Valleys forming the backdrop to Isengard.

Then fly over the striking blue water of Queenstown’s Shotover River. Gold was discovered here in 1862 and the river became one of the richest gold bearing rivers in the world.

Finally, you will return to Wanaka and land back at the airport with photos and memories that are yours to treasure.

Optional Extras

  • Add an optional helicopter glacier flight to explore the Milford Glaciers up close (additional price – ask us at time of booking)
  • Purchase lunch on your scenic boat cruise or we can arrange a picnic lunch option for you. Please let us know at time of check in.

What to Bring

  • Camera
  • Wind proof jacket (for the cruise)
  • Snacks/Lunch (complimentary tea/coffee is provided on your boat cruise)
  • Insect Repellant for New Zealand’s least favourite insect (the sandfly)!

Milford Sound Fly-Cruise-Fly Gallery

FAQ’s for Milford Sound from Wanaka:

How far is Milford Sound from Wanaka?

Milford Sound is 96km from Wanaka but if travelling by road the distance is 342km. A scenic flight therefore cuts out much of the travel time while flying over two of New Zealand’s most scenic National Parks.

Is it cheaper to fly to Milford from Queenstown?

Currently Queenstown to Milford Sound fly cruise fly trips are priced around $499 – $565 per adult. With Southern Alps Air you fly from Wanaka which gives you an extra 25 mins (approx.) of scenic flying time. This trip is currently on special at $499 per adult. We think you will agree this is a great deal!

How long is the flight from Wanaka to Milford Sound?

A scenic fixed wing flight takes approximately 40 minutes from Wanaka to the Milford Sound landing strip. This means our Milford Fly Cruise Fly options provide around 80 mins of scenic flying, combined with a 1.5 hr cruise on the Sound itself.

Is it better to fly to Milford Sound from Queenstown or Wanaka?

This might depend on where you are staying, but by flying from Wanaka you can extend your flying time. Plus you can see 100+ glaciers and get amazing views of Mt Aspiring & both the Aspiring & Fiordland National Parks.

Do I need to bring lunch/refreshments with me on the Milford Sound Fly-Cruise-Fly?

This is a longer tour, lasting 4 hours. Lunch can usually be purchased on your scenic boat cruise. Alternatively we can arrange for a picnic lunch to be provided for you. Please let one of our team know if you would like lunch, when you arrive to check in for your flight.

Posted in: Featured, Milford Sound, Milford Sound Deals & Wanaka Flight Specials, Milford Sound Flights with Southern Alps Air, Scenic Flights

Stuff Reporter Brook Sabin on our Siberia Experience

Date: January 19th, 2021, Posted by admin

This article is taken from Stuff website. The Siberia Experience by Brook Sabin.
Published Nov 15 2020. You can read the original article here.

View the Siberia Experience trip details here

“Welcome to Siberia” our pilot said with a smile, as he pulled off the throttle, and our plane bumped along the grass runway.

Just moments earlier, there had been no time for talking. Pilot Ryan Cooper was carefully manoeuvring our little yellow plane into a narrow ice-carved valley, doing tight turns just a few hundred metres from the mountains.

siberia experience plane ride southern alps air
Southern Alps Air pilot Ryan begins to position our plane for its approach to Siberia

This is a very different type of flying than most of us are used to. Our tight descent into Siberia Valley is a “hope we make it” moment for first-timers in a small plane. But for people like Ryan, it’s just another day at the office. His office happens to be one of the most beautiful in New Zealand.

Although, not everyone agrees. Siberia Valley is surrounded by Mt Dreadful, and Mt Difficulty – so whoever named this place clearly wasn’t having a great day. However, as anyone who has been to the real Siberia will attest, the vast snow-covered landscape is nothing short of magnificent in fine weather. And that’s what we’ve struck today, in Aotearoa’s little slice of untouched wilderness.

siberia experience view from the cockpit with southern alps air
The beginning of our flight into the mountains

Our journey started in the tiny village of Makarora, at the head of Lake Wanaka. As we check-in for our flight, a little yellow plane bounces around the grass and comes to a stop next to the road.

The plane – a Cessna 185 Skywagon – is affectionally known around town as ‘Buttercup’ and is specially designed to carry five adults into and out of rough airstrips. It was recently upgraded with some flash avionics, despite being more than 40 years old. But Chief Pilot Paul Cooper tells me it’s ideal for the job, and planes like this one are “like a good axe – they just keep doing the job.”

siberia valley experience views
The scenery on the way to Siberia Valley

The trip we’re doing today is known as the “Siberia Experience”. Southern Alps Air will fly us into the valley, before a three-hour walk to a jet boat pickup point, where Wilkin River Jets will take us on a high-speed journey back to civilisation.

As we load into Buttercup, and bump down a grass runway, my cheeks hurt from smiling. This is the kind of trip foreigners come from around the world to experience – and we are so lucky to have it easily accessible in our backyard.

We race down the runway, leaping into the air in no time. We make an almost immediate turn for the Wilkin Valley, carved by a glacier over million of years.

siberia experience with southern alps air
One of the glacier-carved valleys we pass on the trip in

It’s hard to know where to look; we fly over several glaciated valleys framed by snowy peaks, and turn a tight corner to reveal an emerald lake nestled among the mountains. Ryan manoeuvres the plane into a tight, conical-shaped valley surrounded by peaks, telling us he can turn the plane on a dime. As soon as he’s finished speaking, the plane banks steeply.

We track back down the valley, slowly descending toward Siberia. We do one quick flyover of the strip for a check of the wind direction then enter a tight circuit. The last time I flew like this was in Papua New Guinea, and I feel like I’m back there. For our final turn, Ryan needs to position the plane near the treeline, while descending and reducing speed. It’s impressive watching, as he flicks levers and switches as if Buttercup is an extension of his body.

Before my eyes have a chance to adjust to the quickly changing scenery, a little grass airstrip comes into view, and the plane bumps down with several light thuds – what a flight.

siberia experience plane landing southern alps air buttercup
Southern Alps Air’s Buttercup has been flying into Siberia Valley for decades.

On the ground, Ryan walks us to the Wilkin River, which we must cross, and points us in the direction of the walking track that will eventually lead us to the jet boat. With that, he and Buttercup launch back into the sky and leave us, surrounded by mountains and silence, in Siberia.

As we cross the river, my partner Radha warns me the water is cold. She, more than anyone, knows I was born with quite possibly the most sensitive thermostat in the country. The water is straight from the glaciers, and as my feet begin to numb, I have a rush of blood to the voice box and rattle off a few too many four-letter words.

wading across the siberia experience river
I crossed the river like the Aucklander that I am: moaning all the way!

We head to the Department of Conservation’s Siberia Hut, where eager trampers can stay the night gazing at the mountains from every window. It’s about 21 degrees, and Mt Dreadful should really be renamed Mt Magnificent in this weather.

siberia experience hike with southern alps air
Every direction you walk in Siberia Valley has a stunning view.

After a quick stop at a waterfall, which we saw from the plane and vowed to visit, we start the “two to three” hour walk to our jet boat pickup point. We begin by gently ascending into a beech forest, before the track becomes steeper, at times walking beside sheer drops into the valley below.

At each turn as we get higher, more snowy peaks and roaring waterfalls come into view – the result of heavy rain a few days ago.

walking the siberia experience with southern alps air
The walk to the jet boat is sensational – make time for photos.

After two and a half hours of walking, we hear the thunder of a jet boat arriving to take us back to our starting point.

Wilkin River Jets is one of the oldest jet boat companies in New Zealand; it was established in the 1960s to help transport deer hunters, and today runs sightseeing trips. We jump aboard the boat, and rocket down the braided river, just centimetres above rocks and beside trees. After a slow walk, the pace is a welcome blast of adrenaline.

jet boating on siberia experience southern alps air
The jet boat was a fitting way to end the trip.

We stop often, and our driver Alec Watson turns the boat around, so we can look back at the magnificent mountains we’ve just left. We also go on the hunt for little emerald lagoons that are home to inquisitive trout.

After a 30 minute boat ride, we’re back where we started. It’s hard to believe in the past four hours we’ve flown around mountains, walked along bluffs, and jet boated back to reality. Forget Russia, Aotearoa’s slice of Siberia is all you need.

More information:

  • The Siberia Experience is exclusively run by us at Southern Alps Air and includes a 25-minute flight, three-hour walk, and 30-minute jet boat. It departs from Makarora, 45 minutes north of Wanaka.
  • Prices start from $455 per adult and $360 per child.

Posted in: Southern Alps Air Blog

5 things to expect when you fly to Milford Sound

Date: July 15th, 2020, Posted by admin

There’s no denying a trip to Milford Sound is a ‘must do’ if you’re embarking on a journey to New Zealand. When you fly to Milford Sound you get to experience a birds eye view of the spectacular scenery. Often described as the 8th wonder of the world, there’s no shortage of reasons as to why you should see it. Here’s what to expect once you’ve booked your trip from Wanaka to Milford Sound with Southern Alps Air.

5. No cell phone reception

That’s right – Milford Sound is off the grid! You’ll be whisked away on a small airplane, cut off from the pulls of social media – free to fully immerse yourself in the Southern Alps and Milford Sound. Don’t worry, you can still use your phone throughout your flight and cruise as a camera.

4. Expect to be genuinely blown away

When passengers fly from Wanaka to Milford Sound with Southern Alps Air, we can almost always guarantee they will return with their jaws on the ground, having genuinely been blown away by the entire experience. The sheer scale of landscape and the untouched mountains are nothing short of spectacular.

3. A longer flight (than if you depart from Queenstown)

Flying to Milford Sound from Wanaka is an epic adventure, and a longer one if you fly with Southern Alps Air. As Wanaka’s only fixed-wing scenic flight operator, you can expect your flight to be 25 minutes longer than if you choose to fly from Queenstown. That’s a win in our books!

2. Waterfalls & Wildlife

Milford Sound experiences extremely high rainfall and on average has 6,813millimetres (19 feet) worth of rain, yearly. This means when you’re in Milford Sound, you’ll see some of the most spectacular, powerful waterfalls booming from the mountain side alongside thriving flora and fauna. Once you touch down in Milford Sound and board your cruise, there’s a high chance you’ll see seals lazing on rocks and if you’re extra lucky you may encounter a pod of dolphins.

1. Breath taking scenery

We can’t tell you enough, the trip to Milford Sound is truly magical. Southern Alps Air has been operating for 40+ years, and for over two decades have been flying the same journey into Milford Sound. Yet our pilots are still completely in awe of what they get to see every day. You’ll completely understand once you’ve seen it for yourself!

Posted in: Southern Alps Air Blog

Milford Sound & Glaciers Flyover $399pp (was $495)

Date: October 28th, 2019, Posted by admin

“Fly Further – See More with Southern Alps Air!”

Come on Kiwis, this is an amazing offer on our Wanaka to Milford Sound flight (plus return). Visitors come from all over the world to fly to our fantastic Milford Sound. Some say it is the best thing they have ever done. Now it’s your turn – explore your own backyard and see ‘The 8th Wonder of the World for yourself.

There are so many highlights on the circular flight path from Wanaka you will be in awe of the beauty that New Zealand has to offer! The flight is 30 minutes longer than flights departing from Queenstown. There are also many more glaciers, plus the spectacular Mt Aspiring on our flight route.

This trip is ideal if you want to experience Milford Sound but don’t have the time to stay for the Milford Sound cruise option. This overfly option has the same flight route so you will see Mt Aspiring, 100+ glaciers and the scenic World Heritage beauty of Te Wahipounamu.

Fly to Milford Sound through two of New Zealand’s most picturesque National Parks (Mt Aspiring & Fiordland National Parks). View alpine lakes nestled amongst soaring snow-capped mountain peaks and pristine glaciers, with vast rainforest and cascading waterfalls visible from every seat!

Highlights of your Wanaka to Milford Sound Flight (and return)

  • Birds eye views of Lake Wanaka & islands
  • Fly past the peak of Mt Aspiring (3,033m)
  • See over 100 glaciers
  • View remote, stunning Alpine lakes
  • Fly over the vast rainforests of Fiordland National Park
  • Experience Milford Sound – the 8th natural wonder of the world
  • Return via Queenstown’s scenic Lake Wakatipu
  • Views of Shotover River – site of New Zealand’s Gold Rush
  • Informative, personal commentary from your pilot
  • Window seats for everyone!

Full Trip Information for your Wanaka to Milford Sound Flight

Departing from Wanaka Airport your flight will take you up and over Lake Wanaka with its islands and then out to Mt Aspiring National Park. This stunning region is part of the World Heritage areas of Te Wahipounamu and recognised for its unspoilt beauty.

Views of Lake Wanaka from Southern Alps Air scenic flight
Lake Wanaka

Fly past the peak of Mt Aspiring (3,033m) and view glaciers, remote valleys and pristine alpine lakes as you fly over Fiordland National Park. The views as you fly into Milford Sound will stay with you forever and you will even have views out to the Tasman Sea from your window seat.

Mt Aspiring Southern Alps Air Wanaka scenic flight
Fly past the 3,033m high peak of Mt Aspiring

The scale of Milford Sound is best appreciated from the air, you can understand the vastness of the landscape and why it has been called the 8th Natural Wonder of the World. Cascading waterfalls, sheer cliffs that fall into the blue waters of the Sound. Everyone should experience this!

views over Milford Sound with Southern Alps Air
The scenic beauty of Milford Sound

Your pilot will ensure that your return scenic flight is just as spectacular. Returning via the Dart Valley and Glenorchy – a famous movie location for the Lord of the Rings trilogy you will fly up Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown. Here you can see the legendary Shotover River where gold was discovered in 1862.

Dart Valley Glenorchy Milford Sound scenic flight
Returning via the Dart Valley and Glenorchy at the head of Lake Wakatipu

Finally you will make the descent over into Wanaka after 1.5 hrs of incredible views on a Milford Sound scenic flight you will never forget!

Optional Extra – Brief Landing at Milford Sound.

You can choose to upgrade to enjoy a brief landing at Milford Sound or, if time permits check out our Milford Sound Fly-Cruise-Fly from Wanaka which includes a cruise and is amazing value at $499.00 per adult.

What to bring

  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect repellent (if choosing to upgrade to a brief landing)

FAQ’s for Wanaka to Milford Sound Scenic Flight

How long does the flight from Wanaka to Milford Sound take?

The scenic flight from Wanaka to Milford Sound takes around 40 mins and includes spectacular views of two of New Zealand’s National Parks – Mt. Aspiring & Fiordland National Park

Is it better to see Milford Sound by air?

From your window seat in the plane you will be able to fully appreciate the wild vastness of Milford Sound and its cascading waterfalls. You will also get views of the coastline out to the Tasman Sea. Our amazing pilots fly to Milford Sound every good weather day they can and never get tired of the views!

Is it worth landing at Milford Sound?

This depends on the time you have available. Our Milford Sound flyover trip takes 1.5 hrs so is perfect for those who are short on time but still want amazing views. However if you have the time we do recommend upgrading to either our Milford Sound brief landing option or opting for our full Milford Sound Fly-Cruise-Fly from Wanaka. This is amazing value at $499 per adult (allow 4 hrs).

Posted in: Featured, Milford Sound, Milford Sound Deals & Wanaka Flight Specials, Milford Sound Flights with Southern Alps Air, Scenic Flights

Milford Sound Flight + Landing & Glaciers $450pp (was $515)

Date: September 1st, 2019, Posted by admin

This Wanaka to Milford Sound return scenic flight offers all of the views and highlights of the Milford Sound & Glaciers Fly-Cruise-Fly, just without the boat cruise. Currently this trip is on special at $450pp and includes 1.5 hours of scenic flying time!

Enjoy a short landing at Milford Sound and a chance to take more photos. From the ground you will be able to get a true feel of the scale and splendour of the mile high cliff faces and incredible waterfalls. In addition there will also be the option for a short bush walk. Return to your plane and pilot to fly back to Wanaka over the Fiordland National Park and past Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu.

There has never been a better time to visit Milford Sound and appreciate this incredible area of New Zealand. We believe that everyone should see Milford Sound at least once in their lifetime!

Plus, by taking a scenic flight from Wanaka to Milford Sound you will see over 100 glaciers as well as the mighty Mt Aspiring from your window seat. You will also get an additional 30 minute flight time each way with us. Call us today or Book this Milford Sound Flight + Landing Now!

Milford Sound Flight + Landing Highlights

  • Birds Eye Views of Lake Wanaka & surrounding mountains
  • Mt Aspiring & Aspiring National Park
  • See over 100 glaciers & blue ice
  • Stunning remote Alpine Lakes
  • Vast World Heritage rainforest scenery
  • Milford Sound – the 8th Natural Wonder of the world
  • Brief Landing / Bush Walk at Milford Sound
  • Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu
  • Historic Shotover River
  • Informative commentary from your pilot

Full Trip Information for your Milford Sound Flight + Landing

Take off from Wanaka Airport which is just a 10 minute drive from Wanaka Town Centre. Immediately you will have a scenic birds eye view of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea from the air. See the remote lake islands of Mou Waho and Stevenson’s Island with the stunning backdrop of the Southern Alps.

southern alps air birds eye view of lake wanaka and mountains on flight to milford sound
Birds Eye View of Lake Wanaka & surrounding islands

You will then fly across scenic Mt Aspiring National Park which is home to the region’s highest peak of Mt Aspiring (3,033 metres). Fly past this “Matterhorn of the South” as you view countless mountain glaciers and get glimpses of pristine blue ice and deep crevasses. As you fly your pilot will provide personal commentary and tell stories of the first explorers and the history of this unique landscape.

glaciers and mt aspiring on a scenic flight from milford sound to wanaka with southern alps air
Glaciers and snow covered mountain tops of Aspiring National Park

Your scenic flight continues as you cross into Fiordland National Park. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Area it contains an unspoilt wilderness of temperate rainforest, hanging valleys, glaciers, remote alpine lakes & dramatic mountain peaks. From your window seat you will have countless photo opportunities and the views will be beyond your wildest dreams. Everyone should fly this route in their lifetime!

views over fiordland national park on scenic flight to milford sound with southern alps air from wanaka
Views over Fiordland

Landing into Milford Sound

From here you begin the descent into Milford Sound itself. Named the 8th Wonder of the World it was called Piopiotahi by Maori and was important to them for fishing and hunting. Originally overlooked by early European explorers (including James Cook) it was eventually “rediscovered” in 1812 and since then has continued to awe people with the sheer scale of its landscape.

From the air you will see how the dramatic mile high cliffs drop away into the water and the countless number of waterfalls that cascade down the rock faces. Milford Sound is truly a bucket list destination for kiwis and international travellers alike. Our pilots will never get tired of showing visitors this special place.

You will have the opportunity to make a brief landing in Milford Sound itself. Here you can exit the plane and from the ground get a true feel for the scale and grandeur of the fiord. You can also take a short bush walk among the native flora and fauna. If you do wish to take a boat excursion out on the Sound then you can do this on our Milford Sound Cruise option. Alternatively our Milford Sound Flyover trip is perfect for those on tighter time limits.

As your pilot takes off from Milford Sound you will once again have panoramic views of Milford Sound, out to the Tasman Sea. The return scenic flight is not rushed or repetitive, you will this time fly a different route which takes you around to the famous township of Glenorchy at the head of Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu. Here you can view the braided Dart River, the scenic beauty of the Routeburn Valley (home of the famous Routeburn 3 day walk) and fly past Lake Wakatipu as you return over the mountains to Wanaka.

At the end of this trip you will have spent half a day to capture memories that will never leave you. Smiles are everywhere on this Milford Sound Trip!

southern alps air milford sound flight with landing
Big smiles on a perfect day!

We Provide:

  • window seats for everyone with beautiful views
  • informative pilot commentary and friendly customer service.

Please Bring: Warm jacket, camera

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where do you land in Milford Sound?

Milford Sound has a dedicated landing strip, a short walk from the water. As soon as you land you get amazing views of Mitre Peak and can appreciate the scale of the mountains. There is a great, short bush walk nearby which your pilot can show you.

Posted in: Featured, Milford Sound, Milford Sound Deals & Wanaka Flight Specials, Milford Sound Flights with Southern Alps Air, Scenic Flights

The Original Siberia Experience – Fly, Walk & Jet Boat Combo

Date: October 27th, 2017, Posted by admin

The Original NZ Wilderness Adventure!
Fly – 25min, Walk – 3hrs, Jet Boat – 30min

Experience NZ’s best half day New Zealand wilderness adventure with Southern Alps Air.
Fly, Walk, and Jet boat amongst some of New Zealand’s most spectacular, unspoilt scenery. This is the best way to spend a day exploring New Zealand’s remote alpine environment. Natural, pristine, ancient, extraordinary – this the original Siberia Experience.

Extended Siberia Experience options are also available – choose the extended Glacier Scenic Flight or the option to stay overnight at the Siberia Hut. More info on this below.

See what NZ Stuff Reporter Brook Sabin thought of the Siberia Experience on his 2020 New Zealand South Island Tour.

The Siberia Experience is Exclusive to Southern Alps Air since 1975!

The trip departs from Makarora, a scenic 45 min drive north of Wanaka. This is an amazing half day trip for all ages.

  • Fly amongst the towering mountains of the Mt Aspiring UNESCO World Heritage National Park. Discover the remote and spectacular Siberia Valley.
  • Land on a remote grassy valley strip, beside the crystal clear Siberia Stream. Surrounded by mountains and far from civilisation this is where your walk begins.
  • Walk amongst the UNESCO World Heritage scenery of of Mt Aspiring National Park through to the beautiful Wilkin Valley.
  • Jet boat on the clear, pure waters of the Wilkin and Makarora Rivers. Jet boating is a “must do” new Zealand activity and the shallow braided rivers here are one of the best places to experience the thrills!

Full Siberia Experience Trip Information

Your trip departs from Makarora, a scenic 45 min drive north of Wanaka around the shores of Lake Hawea & Wanaka. After checking in with Southern Alps Air (at our desk in the Wonderland Lodge – 5944 Haast Pass-Makarora Road) you will meet your pilot and have a trip briefing before take off.

1. Fly – 25 mins
(Extended Glacier Flight – 50 mins)

You will be flying with Buttercup – our famous yellow plane. She is perfectly suited for mountain flying and loves her job! Every passenger has a window seat to fully appreciate unobstructed views of the UNESCO World Heritage scenery of Aspiring National Park.

Meet Buttercup – Southern Alp’s Air mascot

Your scenic flight will take you in over the Aspiring National Park into the remote Siberia Valley. Get close up views of towering mountain peaks on either side of you.
See glaciers, cascading waterfalls, hidden lakes, pristine mountain tarns and the icy caps of the Southern Alps. View the peaks of the misnamed Mt Dreadful & Mt Awful. Put simply – this is a breath taking scenic flight!

Your experienced pilot will provide personal commentary during your flight. One last turn and we are on approach to land on a grassy strip in the middle of the mountains in the remote and stunning Siberia Valley.

The remote Siberia Valley – your landing strip is up ahead!

2. Walk – 2.5-3hrs

Step out of Buttercup onto the valley floor and feel the raw power of nature as you gaze skyward to the tops of the towering peaks that surround you.
Your pilot will accompany you to the stream crossing at the beginning of the track and explain about the walk and conditions on the day. Then they will wave goodbye and take off again, leaving you to enjoy the peaceful beauty that surrounds you.

Start by crossing the shallow Siberia Stream (you may wish to bring walking sandals) before walking south through native beech forest and starting to climb out of the Siberia Valley. This takes you up to the highest point of the Track. Bird song is all around you and you will feel a long way from the crowds, absorbed into a remote wilderness.

Crossing the shallow Siberia Stream

The next portion of the track zig zags down into the Wilkin Valley. From here you have the experience of walking along the grassy valley floor, following the river and surrounded by towering mountain peaks.
Finally, at the rendezvous point on the Wilkin River(clearly marked) you will pick up your Jet boat for the final portion of your trip.

Please note:

The walk from Siberia Valley to the Wilkin Valley is described as a Freedom Walk and it is unguided.
When taking part in this activity, you are responsible for your safety and wellbeing. Some parts have steep drop offs on the side so please be cautious at all times. Your pilot will have given you an oral briefing on the track and conditions and you have an opportunity to ask any last minute questions.

The Siberia Experience Track Sections

The track is 7km in length and takes 2.5-3hrs to complete.
• Section 1 is 3km to the highest point of the track
• Section 2 is a 2.5km downhill zig-zag track into the Wilkin Valley
• The last section (Section 3) is 1.5km along the river valley to the jet boat pick up point (which is clearly marked).

The Jet Boat Safari

Rendezvous at the Wilkin River for a thrilling & uniquely scenic 30 min jet boat journey. We will give you a pickup time from the jet boat company prior to departing from Makarora.

Speed down the icy braided rivers of the Wilkin and Makarora Rivers. The waters of both rivers are glacial blue and the scenery around you is spectacular. This is a very kiwi jet boat trip – far from the crowds.

Finally you will arrive back at Makarora – with memories and photos of an adventure that few will experience. This is a great way to discover the remote wilderness of New Zealand, all within a half day trip.

Thrilling 30 min jet boat ride

Book the Siberia Experience online here.
The flight is operated by us at Southern Alps Air and the jet boat is operated by Wilkin River Jets. The walk is a freedom walk on a Department of Conservation maintained track. A $21 per person Department of Conservation fee is included in your fare with us. This goes directly back to Department of Conservation for conservation and maintenance efforts within this area of the Mt Aspiring World Heritage National Park.

Overnight & Extended Siberia Experience Options

Extend your Siberia Experience by choosing either to stay overnight at the Siberia Hut or by selecting our extended Glacier Scenic Flight.

  • An extended Glacier Scenic Flight option adds an additional 25 mins flying time to your scenic flight. Take in extended views of the Young Valley, Makarora Valley, Mt Dreadful, Lake Crucible, Mt Aspiring and Wonderland. See tumbling waterfalls, braided river systems and glaciers.
    You will also get to fly right alongside Mt Aspiring with closeup views of glaciers including Bonar Glacier – the longest in Mt Aspiring National Park.
    Book your extended Siberia Experience here>>
  • Extend the experience by staying overnight at the Siberia Hut. This is a serviced 20 bunk DOC hut which requires bookings between Dec & April. Outside of these times you require backcountry hut passes. Camping is also available at the hut. Please contact us if you wish to stay overnight so that we can advise you on the options available.
    From the hut you can make the popular walk to Lake Crucible which is well known for it’s mini icebergs in late Spring & early Summer – created by falling glacier ice from the mountains above. Surrounding waterfalls make this a very special place.

Siberia Experience Gallery

Siberia Experience FAQ’s

What should I bring on the Siberia Experience?

We recommend a camera, warm & waterproof outer layer, suitable hiking footwear, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect repellent (can be purchased at departure point) + sport sandals or water shoes for crossing the Siberia Stream. (You can also borrow these from us at check in). Snack food, water supply and anything else for your own personal comfort during this half day adventure in the NZ outdoors.

Where does the Siberia Experience depart from?

The Siberia Experience departs from Makarora (on State Highway 6). This is a scenic 45min drive north of Wanaka through the mountains and around the shores of Lakes Hawea and Wanaka.
Alternatively it is 1hr 30 mins south of Haast, or 2 hours from Queenstown.
Meet us at our Southern Alps Air desk inside the Wonderland Makarora Lodge at 5944 Haast Pass-Makarora Road. (This is on the main West Coast Highway, Makarora West).
We can also provide transport from/to Wanaka if you prefer. Please call us on +64 (0)3 443 4385.

Is the Siberia Experience suitable for children?

Yes, children are welcome on the Siberia Experience with Southern Alps Air. The walk is 7km in total and takes around 2.5 – 3 hrs for an adult to complete. Please be aware that there are steep drop offs on the side of the track and children must be monitored closely. There is also a shallow stream crossing on the walk. Infants and children are welcome on the jet boats and suitable life jackets are provided.

What level of fitness do I need for the Siberia Experience?

The Siberia Experience is suitable for people with moderate fitness and above. The unguided walk portion of the experience is 7km in total with a shallow stream crossing and the track is clearly marked. There is an uphill portion (3km) but the rest is downhill and then along the scenic Wilkin Valley. We do recommend hiking footwear and as you are walking in the back country you do need to be aware of track hazards or changes in weather. The Southern Alps Air team can advise on individual circumstances. Please call us on +64 (0)3 443 4385.

Is the Siberia Experience walk guided?

No – the track is a freedom Department of Conservation track and you walk this unguided. However is well marked with orange markers. Your Southern Alps Air pilot will accompany you to the stream crossing at start of the track and provide a brief on the current track conditions.

How do I book the Siberia Experience?

The Siberia Experience is operated by Southern Alps Air and can be booked online here. It operates from October – May each year. Southern Alps Air have been operating The Siberia Experience since 1975.

What about cancellations due to weather?

When you book the Siberia Experience we ask that you phone us on the morning of your trip (2 hours before departure) for a weather check. The weather in Makarora can be very different to Wanaka. If we need to postpone due to weather on the day we will do our very best to rebook you as soon as we can. Alternatively we offer a full refund if your trip can not be rescheduled while staying in the area.

We have been visiting and traveling in New Zealand for years, and we can say that this was the most incredible experience yet! The flight was spectacular, hiking was beautiful (wading through the river added to the charm), and the jet boat driver made the ride extra exciting. A “Can Not Miss” opportunity.

~ Trip Advisor 2020

Posted in: Scenic Flights, Siberia Experience

The Scenic Epic – 4 of NZ’s Top Sights (was $920, now $699 pp)

Date: October 28th, 2016, Posted by admin

Combine Milford Sound, Fox & Franz Glaciers, Aoraki/Mt Cook & Mt Aspiring in one unforgettable scenic flight.

This epic scenic flight takes in the rugged and dramatic scenery of three of New Zealand’s most spectacular National Parks. All located within the UNESCO South Westland World Heritage Area.
This flight departs from Wanaka. It includes the Fox, Franz & Tasman Glaciers, New Zealand’s highest peak – Mount Cook (Aoraki), Mount Aspiring (Tititea) and the spectacular sights of Milford Sound (Piopiotahi).

This is the ultimate bucket list scenic flight – for an incredible $699pp – window seats guaranteed!

Please book this flight by calling 0800 345 666 or emailing us at info@southernalpsair.co.nz

The Scenic Epic – Milford Sound, Aoraki/ Mt Cook & Mt Aspiring Trip Highlights

  • Fly over Fiordland National Park including Milford Sound (Piopiotahi) and Mitre Peak
  • Mt Aspiring National Park and 3033m high Mt Aspiring (Tititea)
  • Get close to the Bonar and Voltar Glaciers and the Olivine Ice Plateau
  • Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, fly past the peak of Mt Cook (Aoraki), New Zealand’s tallest mountain
  • Incredible views of the mighty Fox, Franz Josef and Tasman Glaciers
  • Cascading waterfalls, rainforest, braided rivers
  • Blue ice, remote mountain peaks and 360* views

This is an incredible opportunity at an amazing price. Plus, when you fly with Southern Alps Air you are flying with a locally owned, kiwi business.
We provide window seats for everyone and personal commentary from our experienced pilots. All our scenic flights depart from Wanaka Airport. This is an easy 10 min drive from Wanaka or 50 mins over the scenic Crown Range from Queenstown.

All the sights of this scenic flight can also be enjoyed individually on other trips – see Wanaka & Mt Aspiring, Milford Sound Scenic Flights, Mt Cook & the West Coast Glaciers.

Full Scenic Epic Trip Description

Wanaka to Aoraki / Mt Cook:

Departing Wanaka Airport the first leg of the scenic epic takes you up and over Lake Hawea and along the Hunter Valley and Landsborough Wilderness Area. On the way you will have amazing views of the Southern Alps mountain range. This also includes the remote rainforested valleys of Aspiring National Park.

As you fly closer to Aoraki / Mt.Cook National Park you will spot the unusual blue waters of Lake Pukaki. This is caused by ground down rock particles created by the glaciers surrounding the lake. Lake Pukaki is fed by the waters which flow from the mighty Tasman Glacier – the largest glacier in the Southern Hemisphere! The best way to appreciate the full length of this glacier is from the air. Sights of huge crevasses and pristine blue ice will fill your window view.

Now the peak of Aoraki/Mt. Cook comes into view! At 12,346ft it is the highest mountain peak in New Zealand and was the training ground for Sir Edmund Hillary. It remains a challenging climb for mountaineers and its distinctive peak is awe inspiring. You will have close up views of the mountain from the plane.

Views of Aoraki / Mt Cook with Southern Alps Air scenic flights
The peak of Aoraki / Mt Cook

Aoraki / Mt Cook to Mt Aspiring/Titea

From here your pilot will navigate the plane further towards the West Coast of New Zealand and the legendary Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. These West Coast Glaciers are world famous as they are two of the world’s few accessible glaciers. Flowing almost down to sea level their névé (or snowfield) are located at around 2,500 metres high. The glaciers are estimated to be moving at up to 15m per year.

From your window seat you will have incredible views of both glaciers and the surrounding mountains, with views out towards the ocean. Heading south the Scenic Epic takes you on to the attractive pyramidal peak of Mt Aspiring/Titea. At 3033m Mt Aspiring is often called “The Matterhorn of the South” and is located within the Mt Aspiring National Park. This forms part of Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand’s World Heritage Area. It is an area of remote wilderness, clear braided rivers and unspoilt rainforest. Here you will be also able to see the Bonar Glacier and the Voltar Glacier which are snow covered throughout the year

Mt Aspiring / Titea – “Steep Peak of Glistening White”

Mt Aspiring / Titea to Milford Sound

Fly across the backbone of the Southern Alps into Fiordland National Park which also forms part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Area – Te Waipounamu. Recognised as one of the most scenic landscapes in the world, you will view glaciers, mountain peaks, hidden valleys, kilometres of temperate rainforest, waterfalls and rivers on the way to Milford Sound. A scenic flight in this area should be on everyone’s bucket list! It is a glimpse at a pristine landscape that does not exist elsewhere.

You will have literally hundreds of photo opportunities but your pilot will remind you to save space for one of the most famous views in the word – Mitre Peak and Milford Sound. The scale and grandeur of Milford Sound is best appreciated from the air as mile high cliffs drop dramatically into the waters of the fiord. Often called the 8th Wonder of the World and originally named Piopiotahi by Maori, it was an important area for hunting and fishing.

Milford Sound is an area carved by weather and water (it receives up to 7 metres of rainfall a year) and you will see numerous waterfalls such as the Stirling and Bowen Falls which cascade down the sheer, steep cliffs. The sea is also close by and gives you spectacular views of the coastline.

Milford Sound from a scenic flight by southern alps air
Mitre Peak

Milford Sound to Wanaka

The Scenic Epic flight continues as your pilot skilfully navigates back to Wanaka across both National Parks, pointing out scene of interest and telling stories of this wild area. You will cross over the Hollyford Valley in Fiordland National Park – a densely forested area and home to many native species of birds. You may also spot glimpses of the Dart River and the Shotover river close to Queenstown. The Shotover was the site of New New Zealand’s Gold Rush and hopeful prospectors still look for gold here. As you return to Wanaka you will fly past Lake Wanaka and get great views of the township from the air.

On arrival safely back at our base you will have spent 3 hours in the air, viewing 4 of New Zealand’s top sights – Aoraki / Mt Cook, Fox & Franz Glaciers, Mt Aspiring / Titea and Milford Sound.
This is the ultimate bucket list scenic flight – for an incredible $699 pp – window seats guaranteed!

Remote lakes and waterfalls of Fiordland National Park

We Provide:

  • Window Seats for Everyone
  • Personal Pilot Commentary
  • Easy Booking – please Call Us to make a reservation for this trip (minimum numbers apply)

What to Bring

  • Camera
  • Sunglasses
  • Drink Bottle / Snacks

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the flight to Aoraki/Mt Cook, Mt Aspiring and Milford Sound?

The flight duration is 3 hours. In this time you will see 4 of New Zealand’s most famous sights – Aoraki / Mt Cook – New Zealand’s highest mountain, The Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers, Mt Aspiring / Titea and Milford Sound.

Why fly from Wanaka to Milford Sound?

It is better from Wanaka because you will have a longer flight time, giving you MORE views, MORE glaciers (over 100) and MORE photo opportunities. Plus – Wanaka is a great place with fantastic cafés, a relaxed local vibe and a wonderful lakeside walking track. We recommend you take the day here, enjoy the scenic drive over the Crown Range from Queenstown, experience a scenic flight with Souther Alps Air and then kick back in Wanaka afterwards.

Can I see Scenic Epic views on other flights?

Yes – we also offer individual scenic flights to Wanaka & Mt Aspiring, Milford Sound Scenic Flights, Mt Cook & the West Coast Glaciers. But only Southern Alps Air’s Scenic Epic combines everything into one unforgettable trip – currently on sale at just $699pp!

Does the plane land at any of the locations?

This is a scenic flight only option so the plane does not land at any of the locations. If you want to land and experience a Milford Sound boat trip – then we recommend our Milford Sound Fly Cruise Fly trip or our Milford Sound + Landing option.

Posted in: Milford Sound, Milford Sound Deals & Wanaka Flight Specials, Milford Sound Flights with Southern Alps Air, Scenic Flights

Mt Cook & West Coast Glaciers $499pp (was $580)

Date: October 28th, 2016, Posted by admin

Plus Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier & Tasman Glacier

Take a breathtaking flight around Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak. Fly over countless crystal clear lakes and snow clad mountains on your way to view the world famous Fox, Franz and Tasman glaciers deep in the heart of the Southern Alps.

Mt Cook Scenic Flight + Glaciers Trip Highlights

  • Mt Cook 12,346ft
  • Fox and Franz Glaciers
  • Tasman Glacier, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere
  • Fly into the heart of the Southern Alps
  • Pristine alpine lakes

What to bring

  • Camera

Posted in: Milford Sound Deals & Wanaka Flight Specials, Scenic Flights