Without a doubt, New Zealand has some of the most picturesque landscape in the world. Rugged mountain ranges giving way to crystal ocean depths, the icy beauty of jagged glaciers and stunning inland forestry are but some of the magnificent natural wonders this land of hobbits, elves and magic has to offer.
There are many ways to see and experience New Zealand’s abundant beauty, but none offer a more spectacular experience than a scenic flight. With so many beautiful regions worthy of being viewed from the air, it may be difficult to decide where to embark on your aerial adventure. However, we’ve given you a helping hand by picking out three of the best sites in New Zealand best seen from above.
1. Milford Sound
Milford Sound is a world-famous attraction known for its rugged and mysterious beauty. Located in Fiordland National Park in the Southwest of New Zealand’s South Island, the famed sound is formed by steep, jagged mountains reaching into a long, narrow inlet which joins with the Tasman Sea. Take in a bird’s eye view of distinctive mountain peaks, including Mitre Peak, The Elephant and The Lion, and spectacular waterfalls like the permanent flows of Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls. Many scenic flights covering Milford Sound will also traverse over other stunning features of Fiordland National Park, including Doubtful and Dusky Sounds, the high reaches of the Southern Alps and Lakes Te Anau and Manapouri.
2. The Southern Alps glaciers
A visit to the South Island wouldn’t be complete without a scenic flight over the glaciers of the Southern Alps. The Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, best accessed from Queenstown, are most popular for tours and glacier landings; these spectacular rivers of ice carve paths down the western slopes of the alps and through the lush rainforest of Westland Tai Poutini National Park, reaching almost to sea level. The Tasman glacier is also popular with tourists; best accessed from Christchurch, the Tasman is the largest glacier in New Zealand and lies entirely within the borders of Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.
3. Tongariro National Park and Lake Taupo
New Zealand’s North Island is also home to stunning scenery best experienced from the air. Amongst the most beautiful is the volcano spotted landscape of Tongariro National Park and Lake Taupo. Scenic flights departing from Taupo will traverse the highly active geothermal region of the Hidden Valley on the banks of the Waikato River, with steaming thermal vents and mineral lakes. Known as Lord of the Rings filming territory, other stunning features to be viewed from the air include the three volcanic peaks in Tongariro National Park of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
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