I had never been in a helicopter before, it had always been a dream of mine. From my bedroom window, I sit and watch them swoop off over the lake on adventures every day. So to be invited on a Queenstown to Milford Sound Heli Tour with Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters felt like a dream come true.
Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopter Flight
Like a kid in a candy shop, I raced to the heli hanger that day. After meeting the other guests and having a safety briefing we were ready to board the aircraft. It was soon clear that I hadn't dressed appropriately for the occasion and was wearing sandals (typical kiwi) whilst everyone else had hiking boots on. I quickly recovered from my embarrassment just in time to claim shotgun up front beside the pilot on the brand new Airbus B2 Squirrel Helicopter.
(I recommend wear sensible footwear and comfortable clothes for the Glacier landing included in the journey).
The Helicopter was full of excited honeymooners all ready to bask in the beauty of the Southern Alps. I had a chat with a sweet American couple who were happy to be as far away from the USA and the whole Trump saga as they could… at least we could show them a little kiwi magic to take their mind off things. We all put our headsets on and the chopper was off, over Skippers Canyon and headed for Mount Tutoko.
As we sailed over the majestic mountain tops the scenery vastly changed every five minutes from beautiful snow capped mountains tops, hidden lakes and winding rivers. Being up in the sky really gives you a whole new perspective of our pretty little town below. Soon we were flying low over the mountains and gently set down on the glacier, Mount Tutoko.
Luckily for me, the snow felt compact and dry and my sandals were no problem. Last week the snow would have been up to our knee’s the pilot said, so I thanked my lucky stars that my toes were safe from frostbite as we wandered around the mountain top. It was BEAUTIFUL! The picturesque landscape, helicopter in the background and everyone in awe at the beauty of NZ, It was surreal to wander atop a glacier and the weather was just perfect on that day, not one gust of wind and bluebird skies.
With the memory card in my camera quickly filling up, we lifted back off from the glacier and got one hell of a display down an ice chasm, it was my favourite bit of the flight. As the Helicopter approached Milford Sound I saw it in a totally different way. Mitre Peak came into view and took my breath away, the fiord was a beautiful Green and we could see bright yellow kayaks and boats down below. Having driven the Milford road plenty of times, the scene from the sky topped it by far. Soon we landed at the world’s most scenic airstrip and were quickly whisked off into an awaiting bus ready for our Scenic cruise with Southern Discoveries.
Milford Sound Scenic Cruise
The cruise is a true adventure, venturing up and down the Fiord, surrounded by the amazing peaks and cascading waterfalls. This was the first ever time I'd been to Milford and it was dry, so I soaked up the sunshine on the top deck and watched everyone run wildly around taking photos of the spectacle that is Milford Sound. The Southern Discoveries boat is super roomy, comfy and the top deck is perfect for sitting upon for the journey.
I didn’t want the cruise to come to an end, the Milford magic had set in and I was already reluctant to leave. Heading back to the chopper we switched seating arrangements so everyone could have a turn-up front. I took a seat toward the back, a window seat I may add. Unfortunately, I could see my reflection as I snapped away on the return to Queenstown, so I took this as the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax and take in one of nature’s finest creations.
The route home was different, heading over Lake Te Anau and Lake Marion, a high country lake not accessible by car. Before I knew it Lake Wakatipu and Glenorchy was coming into view. I couldn’t quite believe this was the same lake, I can see from my bedroom window, it looked so blue and luscious from above.
Helicopter Flight Queenstown Style
A Helicopter flight is truly the best way to travel from Queenstown to Milford Sound. From departure to landing the whole experience was magical, no matter how many times you have been to Milford it will always provide you with a unique experience and this by far was my favourite visit.
The Glacier Southern Lakes hanger is located close to the Queenstown airport, I drove there that morning and there was plenty of guest carparks. if you don't have a car they offer a courtesy shuttle from your accommodation, just mention when you book!.
It is best to arrive early and always allow flexibility with your booking due to weather conditions; I recommend you plan your trip at the start of your Queenstown visit to allow extra days for a rescheduled flight. Prices vary depending on what package you go for. My experience, Flight 202 including the cruise and Glacier landing starts at $945 per adult and $660 for a child. The journey is made up of around 1.5 hours in the air and a 2-hour cruise that will guarantee to leave you speechless and itching to do it all again.
Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopter has several Milford Sound Packages, head to their Website to find the version that best suits you.