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Get to know the Southern Alps

Date: September 28th, 2020, Posted by Mandy

If you’re flying with Southern Alps Air, it doesn’t matter what direction you’re going. You will inevitably soar above New Zealand’s most impressive mountain range. Here are a few things we wanted to share with you before you’re on a scenic fight with us.

  1. The Southern Alps travel nearly 500 kms from Milford Sound, all the way up towards Nelson. Nelson is at the top of the South island.
  2. New Zealand’s highest peak is here – Aoraki/Mount Cook. It stands at 3,724 metres (12,218 feet) high. 
  3. All of New Zealand’s peaks over 3,000 metres are in the Southern Alps.
  4. The Southern Alps are by far the highest, longest and most glaciated mountain range in New Zealand.
  5. The best way to see the mountains up-close is with Southern Alps Air – it’s all in the name! We are local experts in flying you to the best scenery.
  6. Mount Aspiring/Tititea is only New Zealand’s 23rd highest peak standing at 3,033 metres (9,951 ft). But it’s famously known as the ‘Matterhorn of the South’. This is for it’s striking pyramid-like peak, making it similar to the Swiss Alps’ Matterhorn. However this is standing at 4,478 metres (14,692 feet).
  7. All of New Zealand’s peaks over 3,000 metres are in the Southern Alps.

Most of our scenic flights include impressive views of mountains, lakes & hidden glaciers.
Start with our $99 Local Wanaka Spectacular flight, or our popular Milford Sound Flyover is on special at just $299. Alternatively we offer some of the best pricing for the bucket list Milford Sound Fly-Cruise-Fly trips.

Posted in: Southern Alps Air Blog

Casey Brown rides Wanaka: Siberia Experience

Date: September 28th, 2020, Posted by Mandy

Even the pros take days off. Casey Brown spent two days riding the mountain bike parks of Wanaka, but on her third day in town, it was time for an airborne adventure with the Siberia Experience.

Images by Callum Wood. Adapted from a story originally published in NZ Mountain Biker.

On a three day trip to Wanaka, Casey Brown, arguably one of the best female mountain bikers in the world, rode some of Wanaka’s premier terrain at Cardrona Bike Park and Bike Glendhu. However, even the pros need a down day and on Casey’s day off, she took to the air with the Siberia Experience.

Take to the skies

Casey is no stranger to heights – although usually she’s got her bike underneath her. On board a bush plane with the Siberia Experience and soaring over the Southern Alps was both a new, but familiar experience. In a way, the trip to Siberia Valley was something of a homecoming for Casey – her and her family used to live in the New Zealand bush – even the owners of Southern Alps Air knew her as little girl.

Once landed, Casey s off across the valley, even wading through an ice-cold glacier fed river to make her way to the trails. Exploring the dense bush of the remote mountains, Casey and co. happened upon a lush lagoon, where they chilled and drank in the sun before heading back to the plane and flying back to Wanaka.


All that flying certainly works up an appetite, and nothing satisfies a hunger pang like Big Fig. With an ever-changing menu of slow-cooked meats, veggie options, salads, sauces and treats, it’s a different experience every time you visit – but always delicious.

A humble abode

The nostalgia continued as Casey and her crew settled into their accommodation for the evening; the River Ridge Private Riverside Retreat by Release Wanaka. While the plane ride that morning spoke to Casey’s Kiwi roots, this log cabin played to her Canadian heritage – the handcrafted structure was made in Canada and shipped to New Zealand where it was set up overlooking the Clutha River and the Southern Alps. With a cozy atmosphere ripe for relaxation and an expansive lawn just waiting for a BBQ crowd, the crew settled in for their last night in Wanaka, basking in the late afternoon sun.

In Wanaka, Casey discovered that there is unending choice for diverse riding, unique stays, delicious dining and epic off-bike adventures. 

Posted in: Southern Alps Air Blog

10 ‘MUST DO’S’ when visiting Wanaka

Date: August 7th, 2020, Posted by Mandy

WANAKA MUST DO’S // Once you’ve booked your trip to fly with Southern Alps Air, you’ll likely be staying in Wanaka or close by in the likes of Hawea, Cromwell, Queenstown or Makarora. Wherever you stay – there’s no doubt you’ll want to check out this little quaint town, home to Southern Alps Air. With a long, local history in Wanaka and its surrounding areas, we’ve come up with a wee list of things you can do while you’re in the area. Ten, to be exact. 

10. Roys Peak

If you’ve Googled anything about Wanaka, you are sure to have come across photos of Roy’s Peak. It’s synonymous with Wanaka, and it’s free! The track is steep and requires a good level of fitness, taking most people 4-5 hours return. But, it’s definitely worth it! Check out everything you need to know here.

9. Puzzling World, Wanaka

This kid-friendly, activity is pretty hard to miss when you’re on your way into town – look out for it on your left about 5 minutes before the Wanaka township. Since 1973 Puzzling World has been “messing with people’s heads” no matter where you come from. With a mix of bizarre buildings, rooms of illusion and the world-famous Great Maze this attraction is designed to baffle your brain and challenge your perceptions of reality.

8. Visit Hammer & Nail Cafe

Hammer & Nail Café is the perfect place to grab your lunch on the go or sit down for a bite to eat before heading away on your adventures. Sandwiches, scones, cakes, pies (yum!) and much, much more! PLUS… we reckon it’s the best coffee in town! 

7. Check out ‘THAT Wanaka Tree’ 

THAT Wanaka Tree is a lonesome little tree sitting in the water, on the edge of Lake Wanaka. It’s been there for years and is often the dropback to many iconic Wanaka. You’ll be hard pressed to find a ‘Wanaka Must-Do’s’ list that doesn’t feature #THATwanakatree. Definitely work checking out! 

6. Makarora Blue Pools

The Blue Pools are actually about 1 hour out of Wanaka, en route to the West Coast. BUT, they’re definitely worth a quick trip up the road.  Wander along a native bush track and over a swing bridge for your chance to experience the Blue Pools filled with the bright blue water from the Makarora River. As you pass through the small Makarora Village before you get to the Blue Pools carpack, keep an eye out for Buttercup – our little yellow Cessna 185 airplane. 

5. Go for a horse ride + wine tasting 

Take a horse back trek with Waterfall Equestrian along the shores of Lake Wanaka with Waterfall Equestrian through Wanaka’s most iconic vineyard – Rippon. Following your trek on horseback, head up to Rippon and have a wine tasting. 

4. Mount Iron Hike

Mount Iron is a much easier option than Roy’s Peak and you still get a really lovely panoramic view, looking out to Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea and across to the Cardrona Valley. The walk is steep in some places but is achievable for most fitness levels. Expect about a 1.5 hour return trip. 

3. Head up the Mountain (skiing) – Winter or Summer

Wanaka is within 30 minutes of three, skifields (would you believe it!). These include Cardona, Treble Cone and Snow Farm. Our favourite here at Southern Alps Air, Cardrona skifield, is open during the summer too – for mountain biking and carting or just to check it out.

2. Lavender Farm

It’s no secret New Zealand has lots of sheep (about 6 sheep to every human), and these sheep are farmed across the country. But, Lavendar farms are a little less common. Just a few minutes from Wanaka, the local Lavendar Farm is home to 20 acres of pristine land filled with lavender fields, farm animals and display gardens. Wander through the flowers, meet the team, play a garden game and test out their unique herbal teas and lavender ice-creams.

1. Take a scenic flight 

Weave your way through the Southern Alps and Mount Aspiring National Park (Wanaka’s closest national park) to experience some of the most extraordinary, untouched mountains New Zealand has to offer. As Wanaka’s longest standing scenic flight company, Southern Alps Air provide truly unique and breathtaking. Here’s what to expect if you’re planning to travel to Milford Sound.

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