Take-in the Southern Alps with Aspiring Helicopters

One of the most amazing things to do in Wanaka has to be standing on the top of an ancient glacier.

Aspiring Helicopters is a small family-owned company which started operations in 1995 and who specialise in creating unforgettable personalised trips. With four helicopters available, one for three passengers, one for four, and two capable of carrying six people, you can be sure that they can comfortably accommodate your group for your adventure. The New Zealand pilots all have over 2000 flying hours experience and know the area well. Clients each have a two-way headset so that they can communicate with the pilots during the flight, and the pilots provide an interesting and entertaining commentary along the way.

 Isobel Glacier with a helicopter

Land on Isobel Glacier to enjoy stunning views of Mt Aspiring (Photo credit: Aspiring Helicopters)

The 35-minute flight is one of the most popular Wanaka activities. It takes you through impressive valleys created by glacial erosion up to the edge of Mt Aspiring National Park, where the helicopter touches down on the Isobel Glacier at a height of 7,000-feet. The amazing 360-degree view will take your breath away as you stand with your feet on this ancient glacier and marvel at the majesty of the natural world.

The one-hour Aspiring and Glaciers flight offers prolonged views of the stunning Southern Alps. Enjoy observing the deep gullies, the rugged terrain, the thick native forest, and the blue ice of valley and hanging glaciers as you fly ever upwards over snow-capped peaks for a high adrenaline, high-altitude snow landing.  You then fly around Mt Aspiring, the pinnacle of the Southern Alps, the highest peak in the National Park and one of most important Wanaka attractions. That loop around is followed by the unrivalled thrill of another alpine landing, before returning to base.

 Lake Wanaka Scenic Flight

Mt Aspiring Helicopter also offer unforgettable Lake Wanaka scenic flights (Photo credit: Aspiring Helicopters)

The Mighty Milford Sound flight lasts three hours and takes in some incredible Fiordland scenery. As the flight path from Wanaka to Milford runs closer to the back bone of the Southern Alps, you will be treated to even more spectacular mountain views than on a flight out of Queenstown. You will cross the rugged peaks of remote mountain ranges, observe several glaciers, impressive waterfalls and see a turquoise river. You can visit the mountain lake of Lochnagar, or set down on the Milford Sound, where you may have the chance to spot some local wildlife. Or you can land on a remote beach on the West Coast, or make an impressive alpine landing. This flight offers lots of options and can be tailor-made to fit your desires. That’s what makes this Aspiring Helicopters flight one of the very best Wanaka activities.

 Avalanche Glacier

Landing below Avalanche Glacier (Photo credit: Aspiring Helicopters)

The drive to Wanaka from Queenstown takes just over an hour, and there are two routes you can take. The most spectacular is the Crown Range Road which is the highest principal road in New Zealand and reaches a height of 1121-metres. The views are spectacular, so why not pick up a rental car at Queenstown airport and enjoy the drive of a lifetime along this impressive winding road. In winter or in adverse weather conditions you may prefer to take the slightly longer route which takes you through Cromwell.

Aspiring helicopters has other tour options, offers charters, and also teams up with other operators, including Eco Wanaka and Wanaka River Journeys / Ridgeline Adventures for some excellent combo packages. Flights run year-round and leave from the new hanger facility at Cattle Flat where there is a comfortable waiting area and plenty of parking space. Visitors can also visit the sheep, cattle and deer of this working farm.

The weather in the South Island can be unpredictable, so if bad weather caused you to miss the chance to visit a glacier on the West Coast, be sure to take the opportunity to enjoy that once in a lifetime experience with Aspiring Helicopters in Wanaka.