Destinations, New Zealand, Oceania, South Island 34

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 🙂

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

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.

The plane we took for our scenic flight

The plane we took for our scenic flight

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:

 Lake Tekapo returning to Lake Tekapo – Adults NZ$360 Child – NZ$230
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
 Even though the prices seem steep, it really is a unique experience and great way to see all the unique natural beauty of this region in New Zealand.

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 continued on and went higher up to the mountains. We saw the Mt Sibaid mountain range with Mt Sibaid peak at 2800 metre. We also saw the Godley river and Glaciers. The only other time we had seen glaciers was in Austria during our epic drive through Grossglockner Pass. We had been talking to the kids about how glaciers are formed and about geology in general. It was great for them (and us) to see first hand what they had been studying about erosion and glacier formation.

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. 


The Selim Family Raasta

Linked to Weekend Travel Inspiration  Monday Escapes Our World Tuesday  #fridaypostcards and Weekly Photo Challenge: Extraordinary

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  • Monika says: October 16, 2015 at 9:19 am

    Someone told me New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world.
    Now, every time I come across some photos form NZ I think it must be the truth!

  • Marta says: October 16, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    What amazing views! Small planes are not exactly within my comfort zone (did you say bumps??) but I would get over my feat to see such wonderful mountains!

  • Linda Bibb says: October 16, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Oh. My. Goodness. This is SO worth every penny. I knew NZ has spectacular scenery but to be honest I had never appreciated it until I saw your photos. I seriously wonder if the only way to really appreciate the country’s beauty is from the air.

    I’m often motion sick so I would be sure to take a Bonine before I boarded. Then again, I probably wouldn’t even notice most of the bumps or care about the size of the plane because I’d have my face plastered to the window for the entire flight. Good grief. What a view.

    • says: October 16, 2015 at 11:37 pm

      Thanks Linda, it was quite spectacular 🙂 I think I would motion sickness medicine if prone to getting sick. I think we got dizzy just from trying to focus on the amazing scenery through the lens, but once we stopped it was better. South Island is pretty spectacular from above, but tramping (hiking) through the national parks were amazing too!

  • Lyndall says: October 16, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Wow – what an incredible experience and great memories for you all. Your reflective photos of Lake Tekapo are stunning, and the snow-capped mountains look incredible too 🙂

  • Paula McInerney says: October 17, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Amazing. What a spectacular way to see some of the most beautiful views of Lake Tekapo. Will certainly be looking into Air Safaris when we go.

  • Vlad says: October 17, 2015 at 6:55 am

    It looks absolutely breathtaking, I’m sure it was a surreal experience! 😀

  • Corinne says: October 17, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Samiya, Awesome views and photos. I have become more and more interested in aerial photography…so beautiful!

  • Jackie | The Globetrotting Teacher says: October 17, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    Wow! That is an amazing experience. Your photos are gorgeous. Hubby and I are thinking of New Zealand, possibly in 2016, so I’m glad to have come across your post!

  • Carly says: October 17, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Incredible pics, I did that exact same flight when I was in New Zealand a few years ago, it brings back some great memories. I’d love to hike the glacier next time I’m there

  • Dean @ La Vida Global says: October 17, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    Absolutely amazing photos Semiya. I helihiked Franz Josef and did Mt Cook by land only. It looked stunning from ground level but even better from above it seems.

  • Jennifer (Dr. J) says: October 18, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Wow! What amazing photos. We had the opportunity to visit New Zealand for 3 weeks in 2007 and it still ranks as one of our top trips of all time. This really makes me want to go back!

  • Amy Whitley says: October 18, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    Wow! What scenery! Love that it’s called an ‘air safari’!

  • Sarah says: October 18, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Wow! Stunning photos. Looks incredible.

  • Jack Henry says: October 18, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    I really want to visit New Zealand now. That is so beautiful.

  • Tanja says: October 19, 2015 at 8:40 am

    So beautiful! #monday escapes

  • Coombe Mill - Fiona says: October 19, 2015 at 9:46 am

    I can’t think of a better way to see the best and most inaccessible areas of New Zeland, one flight to remember! #MondayEscapes

  • Urska @ Slovenian Girl Abroad says: October 19, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Wow, what a stunning landscape! Breathtaking! Just wow.

    • says: October 19, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      Thanks, it was quite beautiful 🙂

  • Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) says: October 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Are those photos even real?? Of real places?! My goodness, they’re gorgeous. What a way to take in such scenery!

    • says: October 19, 2015 at 7:48 pm

      Thanks 🙂 Some of it seemed quite unreal!

  • Lyn aka TheTravellingLindfields says: October 19, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    The South Island of NZ has some great small aircraft tours. We did one a few years ago to Milford Sound from Queenstown and the views were just stunning.

  • Colleen Lanin says: October 19, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Looks incredible!

  • Claire Wang says: October 20, 2015 at 12:21 am

    I found your post via Monday Escapes, and your photos are truly stunning! I’ve never been to New Zealand, but I’ll be sure to add it to my bucket list now.

  • Felicia says: October 20, 2015 at 1:18 am

    fabulous images. love the blue water and mountains.

  • Shraddha gupta says: October 20, 2015 at 2:10 am

    I absolutely love the images. i think the best way to capture such landscapes is through aerial photography, and you have done complete justice to it. I would dare say, that if someone visits this post, they would for sure want to be in the flight and go to this place! 🙂

    • says: October 21, 2015 at 8:17 am

      Thanks Shraddha 🙂 I do hope our travels and pictures inspire people to visit New Zealand! such a beautiful country to travel in!

  • Justin Miller says: October 20, 2015 at 2:39 am

    Uh whoa… that is ridiculous. So jealous. I’ve been thinking about going to NZ and this makes me want to go really bad. Great shots that must have been a wonderful hour ha.

    • says: October 21, 2015 at 8:16 am

      It was quite amazing Justin 🙂 I hope you do get to visit NZ soon, a wonderful country to travel around in, an outdoor lovers paradise!

  • Yogi says: October 20, 2015 at 2:45 am

    I can’t get over how spectacular the water looks with its unique color. Good luck on your continuing travels. You tell your story well.

    • says: October 21, 2015 at 8:16 am

      Thank you Yogi 🙂 That water colour was something else! We have never seen anything like it!

  • Elaine J Masters (@tripwellness) says: October 20, 2015 at 3:08 am

    I’ve seen some of those milky turquoise lakes in New Zealand but never from the air. Lucky you.

  • shere says: October 21, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Amazing pictures!! I wanted to take such a flight when we were in New Zealand but as Paul isn’t such a friend of flying (he says he doesn’t fly just for fun), we didn’t do it. The day I skydived he was even more nervous than I was 😛

  • Ting at My Travel Monkey says: October 27, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I’m not surprised this is in your top 10 travel experience. WOW. I can’t even begin to describe how stunning your shots are. The landscape in NZ is just out of this world… I would love to see this one day. Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

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