One of the best experiences of our lives happened on our last full day in Queenstown. We had spent the better half of the past week driving down the South Island exploring some of the most beautiful sites New Zealand had to offer, but we had one last place to see – the famous fjords of Milford Sound.
While the Milford Sound is only 250km away, the windy route by car takes 6 hours each way. While we really wanted to see the fjords, spending 12 hours of our last day in the South Island in a car after driving all week just didn’t seem that appealing. Earlier that week, our raft guide recommended looking into taking a plane to Milford Sound instead of driving. He mentioned that after factoring in gas money and how much time spent in the car, the plane ride was well worth it.
The night before, we called to get pricing on the planes and found out they only go out when the weather is good enough. The past couple days only a few had been able to make it out so they couldn’t promise us that we’d be able to fly. After thinking it over for a few hours, we decided to seize the opportunity and signed us up for a plane ride the following afternoon. We decided to go with Glenorchy Air, a family run business who we would highly recommend.
We woke up and had a lazy morning – we grabbed a burger at the infamous Fenburger, walked around town a bit before heading to our hotel for our shuttle to pick us up.
The airport is only 10 minutes away from the city center so a short ride later we were at the airport and walking to our plane. Our pilot, Mike, was fantastic and gave us an overview of the plane, reviewed the safety procedures and explained the route we would take.
A few minutes later, we were up in the air and flying above Queenstown. The weather was absolutely perfect – there were minimal clouds and it offered the most incredible views. We were only about 10k feet in the air, so we were literally flying among the peaks of the mountains. We got a peek of Mt. Cook among the other gorgeous vistas. We passed over a glacier where we saw a couple people getting off a helicopter to go hiking on a glacier.The ride is less than an hour and we shortly arrived in the Fjordland National Park.
The juxtaposition of the mammoth fjords alongside the peaceful water was just breathtaking. We took a 2 hour cruise around the sound in awe of the beauty surrounding us. We saw seals, waterfalls and so much more. It was a great ride but we were excited to get back in the plane and take the alternate route back to Queenstown.
The way back took us flying south of the Milford Sound and provided an incredible view looking back at the fjords. Another plane from Glenorchy was flying alongside us and it was so cool to see the tiny plane next to the huge mountains.
The sun began to set and it was cloudier than on the way in so the sun was glowing off the white clouds. It was beautiful!
We arrived back in Queenstown on cloud nine – Hands down, this was our favorite memory of our NZ trip and so worth it. I would recommend this to anyone visiting Queenstown! You must add it to your bucket list!
We spent the evening enjoying cocktails and grabbing a dinner reliving how great the day was.
A few days later, our pilot shared our flight route with us – couldn’t have better things to say about the experience!