Incredible scenic flight over mountains, glaciers and alpine lakes with Air Safaris
One of the highlights from our South Island campervan trip last week (and there were several WOW moments the whole trip!) was the Grand Traverse Scenic flight we did in Lake Tekapo with Air Safaris.
I will let the images speak for themselves and show you why this was so amazing, starting with the one below 🙂
Our return 10 day campervan trip from Auckland, North Island down to Lake Wanaka, South Island is shown in the map below (the south island part is shown here). Our first stop was Kaikoura, another one of our personal favourites, where we saw sperm whale, albatross and seals, a paradise for marine life lovers like us!
The next stop was Lake Tekapo where we planned to do a scenic flight with Air Safaris over Aoraki/Mt Cook, highest peak in all of New Zealand, Franz Josef Glacier, the three alpine lakes – Tekapo, Ohau and Pukaki, running north-south along the edge of the Mackenzie Basin and several other scenic points which I describe alongside the pictures below.
Air Safaris has been running alpine flightseeing around the regions of Aoraki Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini since 1970. They offer helicoptor flights as well. They had different sized planes, and some can take upto 15 passengers. The one we took can take 6 passengers. They run several flights during the day and they can be booked at their office based in Lake Tekapo.
They also have bases around other parts of South Island including Milford Sound Excursions and Trans-Divide Scenic Flights.
The Prices for the flights are shown below:
Franz Josef returning to Franz Josef – Adult NZ$360 Child NZ$230
Glentanner returning to Glentanner -Adult NZ$395 Child NZ$280
Inter aiport options (including Tekapo, Glentanner, Mt Cook & Pukaki) Adult NZ$415 Child NZ$290
We got to the airport (base), 10 minutes drive from Lake Tekapo and met our pilot and co-pilot. Very friendly team, they gave us the safety briefing and a brief description of the tour. There were speakers above each seat so you could hear the pilot narrating about the places, but to be honest it was quite hard to hear him regardless of the speakers. Good thing we were also provided with a booklet with descriptions of the many places we flew over.
The first views were of lake Tekapo with the mountain backdrop were truly stunning, we have never seen anything like it. The turquoise blue colour is created by “rock flour” – the glaciers in the headwaters grind the rock into fine dust and these suspended particles combined with sunlight creates this unique water colour.
We flew above the Tasman glacier, Franz Josef, Fox Glacier and West coast rainforests. You can also do helihiking at Franz Josef which was highly recommened to us but you had to be atleast 9 years of age and Shama at 7 years of age was still too young to do it. Few days later when we drive through here, all we could see was the lush rainforests and it was so hard to believe just next to it are these amazing glaciers covered in snow and ice!
The entire flight tour lasted about 1 hour. I must admit by the end of it, Ashique and I were both a bit lightheaded and I was a bit nauseous, but I think it was from looking through the camera and taking a zillion pictures! We stopped taking pictures near the end. The flight was fairly smooth but there were a few bumps along the route. The kids were fine with it all. Some of the other interesting places we saw were Lilybank Station, which is New Zealand most isolated high country sheep station. It is famous as a safari game and recreation area. We also saw lake Alexandrina famous for Rainbow and Brown Trout fishing, very different from the other three blue alpine lakes.
When we got back to base we were given our flight certificates, chatted with Pilot Matt for a bit and got our picture taken with the crew.We were lucky again with the weather as we had been during our whale watching expedition! One of the downsides of doing a trip off season (we went end September, beginning of spring) is that you just can’t garauntee you will get good weather. We were blessed with great weather 7 out of the 10 days that we travelled, can’t complain 🙂
All in all, a very memorable experience and one that will be in our top 10 of our one year travels around New Zealand!
Disclaimer: We are grateful for the media discounted passes provided to us by Air Safaris for our Grand Traverse Scenic Flight but all opinions are soley our own. It is really a great experience and a wonderful way to see the stunning natural beauty of South Island, New Zealand.