heli-hike vs flight seeing

Dec 4th, 2017, 02:31 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2013
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heli-hike vs flight seeing

Hello. I am trying to decide whether to book a heli-hiking or flight-seeing experience during our 2 week trip to the South Island in early March. Flight-seeing in Alaska was a peak experience (pun intended). If we are after the grandeur of the landscape from the sky, would you recommend heli-hiking Tasman Glacier (or elsewhere) or flight seeing there or somewhere else. Our itinerary is not taking us to Fox or Franz Josef, but we will have time in Mt.Cook, Wanaka and Queenstown. I would appreciate any recommendations and options. Many thanks, in advance.
HilaryS is offline  
Dec 4th, 2017, 06:03 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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We did a 2 1/2 hour helicopter flightseeing trip when we visited Glenorcy (30 miles north of Queenstown). In a word it was SPECTACULAR. We flew through canyons and mountain passes of the Remarkables, over Milford sound where we viewed massive waterfalls, landed on a glacier where we watch massive land slides, skimmed above the Dart River, landed on a secluded beach and by a lake hidden in a remote valley. Took over 500 photos during our excursion. It was one of the best and most scenic flight tours we have ever taken.
RoamsAround is offline  
Dec 4th, 2017, 10:37 PM
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I saw that scenic flight on TV only (sadly)on a programme promoting New Zealand and it looked truly awesome. It is such rugged country down there and some places there is no evidence of humans on the landscape at all.
If you have seen other glaciers in the world I would go for something different while in New Zealand.
tasmangirl is offline  
Dec 5th, 2017, 06:18 AM
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RoamsAround and Tasmangirl, many thanks for your helpful replies! RoamsAround, what provider/package did you use for the helicopter flight-seeing trip from Glenorchy? Sounds amazing!
HilaryS is offline  
Dec 5th, 2017, 06:40 PM
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If memory serves me right we did a private charter with Heli-Glenorchy (http://www.heliglenorchy.co.nz/index...eli-glenorchy/). The flight was arranged for us by the concierge at Blanket Bay (www.blanketbay.com) where we were staying.

Here is an excerpt from the travel journal I wrote describing the excursion - it's a bit long but I thought you might enjoy it:

The helicopter picked us up exactly at 10:00AM right at the lodge. The pilot gave us a quick briefing and we climbed aboard. A few minutes later we were skimming over the tops of the Remarkable Mountains on our way to Milford Sound. We flew through snow capped mountain passes and narrow canyons, across river filled valleys, large and small lakes ringed with dense forests, and numerous waterfalls, all the while marveling at the fantastic scenery that stretched as far as the eye could see in every direction. At times we were so close to canyon walls it felt as though you could reach out and touch the glacial snows and rocky outcroppings. What made the views even more spectacular was the backdrop formed by the crystal clear deep blue sky. Thirty minutes later we reached Milford Sound and we marveled at the mile high cliffs that lined each side of the narrow fiord. At one point we flew directly over Sterling Falls, which has a vertical drop almost three times that of Niagara Falls. Even at this distance it is dwarfed by the height of the cliff itself. The deep waters of the fiord were very calm and acted like a mirror reflecting the fiords walls. We flew the entire length of the fiord and could not help notice that, owing to the perfectly dry weather, there were very few waterfalls unlike the thousands we saw during the rain at Doubtful Sound two days earlier.

When the helicopter reached the mouth of the Sound we flew north along the rugged coast and eventually landed on a beach that is accessible only by air and rarely visited by anyone. The Tasman Sea here is quite rough and we spent some time watching the waves pound against huge rock formations that were a few hundred feet off shore. We walked along the beach while our pilot gave us some interesting facts about the geology of the area.

Back in the helicopter we flew further into the Fiordland National Park to explore more of the Remarkable Mountains from the air. After a while we landed on a mountaintop glacier at an altitude of just over 5,300 feet above sea level. The glacial ice was more like hard packed snow rather than solid ice. Standing on top of a mountain looking out across a vast mountain range is awesome to say the least. On one side of the glacier there was a steep drop off and on the other was a crater with a frozen lake at the bottom.

As we were landing the helicopter we noticed what looked like smoke or steam coming from the base of the cliff face on the opposite side of the crater. Once the engine stopped and we got out of the helicopter we realized that the smoke was actually dust from a rockslide. All of a sudden we heard the sound of rocks falling and as we looked across the crater we could see another rockslide beginning. Mesmerized, we watched some of the cliff face fall and disappear into a pile of rubble on the frozen lakebed below. A few minutes later, it happened again, this time even more rocks fell. The scene kept repeating itself every few moments. Some slides lasted only seconds, some went on for a minute or two and every once in a while there would be a full-fledged avalanche lasting several minutes where major portions of the cliff face would just disappear. We were in awe watching Mother Nature change the look of an entire mountainside right before our eyes.

As an added feature the pilot had brought along a golf club and a few biodegradable golf balls for me to hit off the glacier, but every time he started to get the clubs and tee set up there would be another rockslide across the crater that drew our attention. Finally after about 25 minutes we forced ourselves to stop looking at the rockslide and concentrate on hitting a few golf balls. It was fun to hit a ball that would go completely out of sight before it hit the ground. Of course that long distance was mostly downhill rather than straight out from the tee. Anyway it was fun. So what was supposed to be a relatively short stop on top of a glacier ended up lasting almost 30 minutes – what a fantastic way to spend some time.

Airborne once again we flew over more glaciers and rugged snowcapped mountains, as well as several high mountain lakes that reflected the surrounding mountains like mirrors. Completing the loop we passed through another narrow pass and entered the Dart River Valley and saw where the river spread out across a delta and eventually fed into the head of Lake Wakatipu. We crossed the delta and flew a short way down the lake back to Blanket Bay Lodge.

Today’s flightseeing tour was phenomenal and was without a doubt the highlight of our trip. Now over the past 3 ½ weeks we’ve seen some fantastic scenery, taken two other awesome helicopter flights and had numerous other sightseeing tours but today’s adventure was unforgettable. There are not enough words to describe the incredible sights one sees while flying atop mountains that kiss a bright blue cloudless sky.
RoamsAround is offline  
Dec 6th, 2017, 04:43 AM
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Wow, sounds absolutely amazing. Thank you!
HilaryS is offline  

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