What's the best way to see Mt Cook and the glaciers from the air?

Everyday people ask us which flight option they should take. We discuss the differences between fixed wing and helicopter scenic flights.

Everyday people ask us which flight option they should take. If you are flying from Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook or one of the West Coast towns of Franz Josef and Fox, you are spoilt for choice. The real question though is choosing between fixed wing aeroplane or helicopter? Aside from the obvious differences there are, however a few things you need to consider when making your decision. 

Why choose a fixed wing?

  • A scenic airplane flight is cheaper. Planes generally fly faster, at higher altitudes and use less fuel. Typically you can expect to pay around half of what you’d pay for a comparable helicopter flight.
  • A smoother ride. With far less moving parts, a fixed wing flight is generally smoother. If you suffer from motion sickness, then again this might be a better option for you.
  • Seeing more. Because a fixed wing flies faster, you simply get to see more. Here at Air Safaris our fifty minute fixed wing Grand Traverse covers 200km’s, whereas our sixty minute Franz and Fox Magic only covers around 140km’s.

Why choose a helicopter?

  • Snow or alpine landings. Whilst there are ski planes that land on the Tasman Glacier, helicopters make it so much easier to land on a remote mountain site.
  • The cool factor. Most of us have flown in an airplane but a helicopter is not something you do very often. It’s a completely unique experience.
  • Possibly less bumps. A helicopter doesn’t fly as fast as a fixed wing meaning the impact of unexpected turbulence can be less.

Whichever you decide, fixed wing or helicopter the Aoraki Mt Cook and Westland National Parks have some jaw dropping scenery. Getting up close and personal with New Zealand’s highest peaks and longest glaciers is the experience of a lifetime.

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