FAQ's

Do you have questions before book a scenic helicopter experience? Please check below for some our frequently asked questions - you may just find your answer. If you have other questions please do not hesitate to contact us directly by either phone 0800 435 499 or by email.

Why there is a difference between the price of a scenic helicopter flight vs. a fixed-wing flight

We often get asked why there is difference between the price of a scenic helicopter flight and a fixed-wing helicopter flight. Below is a few key points to explain why.

  1. Maneuverability: Fixed-wing aircraft can only move forwards and go up and down. Helicopters can fly three-dimensionally. By this we mean they go up, down, forwards, backwards, sideways and around. They can also hover. We think helicopters offer a far more experiential experience because of their supreme maneuverability.

  2. Turbulence and weather: Helicopters usually fly at lower altitudes than fixed-wing aircraft. This difference means passengers experience less turbulence and get better views in a helicopter. It also means they can operate safely in more weather conditions than fixed-wing aircraft.

  3. Visibility: Helicopters have bigger windows, and there are no wings in the way of views you are paying to see. If you are lucky enough to sit in the front, you'll have the best seat in the
    bubble and experience 250-degree views!

  4. Landings: Most of our scenic flights include an alpine or glacier landing partway through the flight. Fixed-wing aircraft can only land at their destination. Exploring a glacier or popping your feet in some snow midway through a trip offers a whole different perspective to anyone’s scenic experience! One minute you are standing at the airport, the next on top of a mountain! Helicopters provide you with the ability to ‘set down’ (or ‘land’) in the most breath-taking places, but this ability also adds a safety element if the need to land arises.

  5. Cost to maintain: Every single part on a helicopter has a “life” which means it gets replaced after a certain number of hours, keeping helicopters safe and airworthy. Due to the number of moving parts on a helicopter, this makes them much more expensive to operate and maintain than a fixed-wing aeroplane. They also use a lot more technology such as FADEC controlled turbine engines which produce large amounts of power and carbon fibre blades.

  6. Prices: The price of your scenic flight includes Goods and service tax (GST); Department of Conservation fees; Land Information New Zealand fees; private landowner fees; Queenstown Lakes District Council fees; Ministry of Transport fees; Queenstown Airport Corporation fees; Airways fees (speaking to control towers); Civil Aviation Authority compliance fees and safety levies; commission paid to booking agents. And, of course, standard operational costs such as insurance, regular airworthiness checks, staff and fuel.

We hope this helps you to understand why scenic helicopter flights are more expensive than fixed-wing scenic flights.

What is your cancellation policy?

If we need to cancel your booking due to weather no charge will be incurred. If you have purchased a voucher through an agent you are entitled to a full refund. You will need to contact them to arrange this refund.

However, if you cancel your booking within 24 hours of your flight or do not show up for your flight, you will incur a 50% cancellation fee.

How far is the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy?

The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is approximately 48 kilometres. We recommend you allow between 45 minutes and an hour for travel. The road is one of New Zealand’s Top 10 most scenic drives so allow time for stops and photographs.

What if the weather is not great for flying?

The weather can often be quite different between Queenstown and Glenorchy. However, we do not want your helicopter experience stained by bad weather. We always do a weather check one hour prior to departure or before you leave Queenstown. Please call us on 0800435 449 one hour prior to you leaving for Glenorchy.

Are helicopters safe?

Heli Glenorchy has robust Safety Management Systems and also extensive exposition under which we operate. We have an impeccable safety record and it is our intention to retain that.  We would not carry out any flights if we thought it was unpleasant or unsafe. All our staff have families and loved ones to come home to at night as well.  

Where do Heli Glenorchy operate from?

All our flights depart from the Glenorchy Airstrip. This is located on the main road from Queenstown, just before you drop down the hill into the township of Glenorchy.

Our shop is located in the centre of Glenorchy at 35 Mull Street and this is where the check-in formalities take place.

How long has Heli Glenorchy been operating for?

We opened our doors for operation on 10 February 2015. The company was founded and piloted by Nick Nicholson from the beginning. Since day one we have grown as a company and now boast one of the most experienced team of pilots in the Wakatipu basin.

How long is the flight into Milford Sound?

The scenic flight will take between 20-25 minutes into Milford Sound.

Is there any phone reception in Milford Sound?

There is NO reception in Milford Sound. We do recommend you take your phone to capture some great photos but you will no be able to make calls or send messages. That is part of the magic of Milford Sound.

Are there any cafes to purchase food and coffee?

Yes. Food and coffee is available in the Discover Milford Sound Information Centre and Cafe.

What should I wear / bring with me?

As you will be enjoying an alpine environment we recommend you to please: 

  • Wear sensible comfortable covered shoes.
  • Wear warm clothing and windproof jacket.
  • Remember to bring your camera, sunscreen, sunglasses and insect repellent.

What is the weather like in Milford Sound?

Milford Sound is one of the wettest places in New Zealand. The annual rainfall is approximately 7,000mm and can rain on average 182 days a year. Known as the 'Eighth Wonder of the World', Milford Sound is spectacular when the sun is shinning, it is raining or even snowing. The several waterfalls in the fiord are enhanced when it is raining - just don't forget your raincoat and waterproof camera.

Do you have a COVID-19 Policy?

Yes, in line with New Zealand's COVID-19 Protection Framework (Traffic Light System), we have a COVID-19 Policy in place. Under this policy, using Vaccine Certificates, we will remain open across all Traffic Light System settings. 

Do I need to be vaccinated to travel?

Yes, from December 3 2021, Vaccination Certificates will be required for all passengers. We will verify each customer’s My Vaccine Pass using NZ Pass Verifier App when you check-in.

Passengers joining the helicopter from remote areas where mobile phones may not be available are required to carry a hard copy of their Vaccination Certificate and will be scanned by the pilot.

We cannot accept a purple vaccination card or vaccination confirmation letter as proof of vaccination status.

Can I travel if I am unvaccinated?

Due to the inability to keep a 1-metre distance in between passengers in helicopters, we will not be able to fly unvaccinated customers across all levels of the Traffic Light System (including Green) from December 3 2021.

Are your staff vaccinated?

All of our staff are fully vaccinated in line with government requirements.

Do I have to wear a face covering?

Customer mask-wearing requirements will be in line with the Traffic Light System. If our region is at Orange or Red, you will need to wear a mask. Masks will be available on check-in if you forget yours. 

Our pilots are exempt from wearing face masks during flight as it compromises the safety of flight.