Helicopter tours from Queenstown – prices, timings, Milford Sound

Queenstown helicopter tours

Image: Ultimatequeenstown.com

Queenstown is known as ‘Adventure Capital of the World’ and attracts more than 3 million tourists every year.

The visitors come in for unique thrills in water, air, and land – activities such as Skydiving, Paragliding, Bungy Jumping, Ziplining, Canyon Swinging, helicopter rides, etc.

With places such as Milford Sound, Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier, Tasman Glacier, Mount Cook, Middle-Earth Waterfalls, Mt. Tutoko, Richardson Mountains, Lake Wakatipu and more to see, helicopter trips are popular.

In this article, we explain everything you must know before booking your helicopter tour from Queenstown.

Best helicopter tours from Queenstown

Since there is so much to see and do, Queenstown helicopter rides come in many flavors.

We present below our favorite ten heli ours, which are popular with vacationers in this part of New Zealand.

All these tours come with live commentary by the Pilot.

Tickets for kids

While some of these tours are free for infants below three years, some of them charge highly discounted tickets.

Whatever be the case, on the ticket booking page, you must mention if you are traveling with kids below three years. 

Cancellations

For a full refund, you can cancel the recommended tour tickets at least 24 hours before the experience.

Helicopter tour + snow landing + Milford Sound cruise

This trip starts when you board a six-seater Airbus Squirrel helicopter and take off for Milford Sound, the most popular fiord in New Zealand.

A fjord or fiord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by a glacier.

Once you land on the famous fiord, you get onto a scenic cruise so that you can explore Milford’s sheer cliffs and gushing waterfalls. 

If you are lucky – and most visitors are – you will see dolphins, seals, and penguins.

Once the Cruise is over, you board the helicopter again for an aerial tour, followed by a snow landing on Mt. Tutoko.

After ten minutes, you take off again and return to Queenstown. 

Ideal for: All kinds of travelers

Departure: 35 Lucas Place, Frankton, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand (Google Map)

Duration: 4 hours
Tour Operator: Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters
Tour timings: 10 am, 12 noon, 2 pm

Cost of the helicopter tour

Adult ticket (12+ years): $710 (1170 NZD)
*Child ticket (0 to 11 years): $498 (820 NZD)

*If your less than three years old kid will sit in your lap, they can join the tour for free. Don’t buy tickets for them. 

Plane to Milford Sound + Cruise + return by Helicopter + Snow landing

This trip starts with a jaw-dropping flight in an airplane above the postcard-perfect scenery of the South Island and Fiordland National Park.

The flight to Milford Sound takes 40 minutes, after which you will board a boat to cruise among the scenic grandeur of the beautiful area.

Once the 2-hour boat excursion is over, you will reach Milford Sound Airstrip for the return helicopter ride to Queenstown. 

On the way, you will land in a scenic alpine location and spend ten minutes exploring.

If you prefer, you can purchase a picnic lunch for $21 per person.

Ideal for: Couples, and families 

Departure: 39 Lucas Place, Frankton, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand (Google Map)

Duration: 5 hours
Tour Operator: Milford Sound Scenic Flights
Tour timings: 8 am, 10 am

Cost of the helicopter tour

Adult ticket (15+ years): $675 (1110 NZD)
Child ticket (4 to 14 years): $430 (710 NZD)
Infant ticket (0 to 3 years): $168 (277 NZD)

*You can upgrade the previous experience by adding a visit to the filming location of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. With this upgrade, you also get a picnic lunch for free. Find out more

Glacier Heli-hike tour from Queenstown

You start this tour by boarding an airplane in Queenstown and flying 60 minutes to reach either Franz Josef or Tasman Glacier.

Since the fixed-wing plane can’t land on snow, you change to a helicopter for the last leg of your journey. 

The helicopter passes over the deep crevasses of the icefalls and waterfalls to land on either upper Franz Josef icefall or the Tasman glacier.

You then wear hiking boots and crampons and embark on your two-hour snow hike. 

An exhilarating helicopter ride above the fantastic glacier landscape followed by an adrenalin-filled hike is a perfect Queenstown holiday. Image: Helicopter.co.nz

We don’t recommend this tour for pregnant travelers and people with severe medical conditions.

Ideal for: Young, healthy and adventurous

Departure: True South Flights, Remarkables Park Town Centre, 1B/8 Hawthorne Drive, Frankton, Queenstown 9300. (Google Map)

Duration: 6 hours
Tour Operator: True South Flights
Tour timings: 7 am to 9 pm, all week 

Cost of the helicopter tour

Adult ticket (15+ years): $857 (1410 NZD)
Child ticket (10 to 14 years): $726 (1200 NZD)

Helicopter picnic at Middle Earth Waterfalls

This trip starts when you board a private helicopter to get to Middle Earth Waterfalls (also known as Earnslaw Burn).

On the way, you see the Moonlight Saddle and soar across the dramatic Richardson Mountains.

Once you reach the waterfall, you touch down for a gourmet picnic at the location where the movie ‘The Hobbit’ got filmed. 

To get a sense of how massive and amazing this waterfall is, check out this video below –

After lunch, you explore the area for some time before returning to Queenstown. 

Ideal for: Private tour for groups of two to six people.

Departure: Tourists get picked up from their accommodation in Queenstown
Duration: 2 hours
Tour Operator: Alpine Luxury Tours
Tour timings: 11.30 am, 12.30 pm

Cost of the helicopter tour

Adult ticket (13+ years): $693 (1140 NZD)
Child ticket (4 to 12 years): $488 (805 NZD)
Infant ticket (0 to 3 years): Free

Mt Cook Adventure Tour

In this trip, you leave the streets of Queenstown and head to the mighty Southern Alps. 

You spend the day at Mount Cook Village, which is at the foot of Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain. 

During this tour, you can include a helicopter experience whenever you want – to reach there or to get back or board a chopper to see the stunning views of Mt Cook, or if you dare, go on a heli hike. 

If you decide to spend time in the Mt Cook Village, you can check out the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center, and visit an alpine salmon farm.

A statue of Sir Hillary at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre at the foothills of Mount Cook. Image: Ttnotes.com

Ideal for: Families and groups of friends

Departure: The Station Building Duke Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand (Google Map)

Duration: 12 hours
Tour Operator: Cheeky Kiwi Travel
Tour timings: 6.45 am

This tour is available in various flavors – the cheapest tour is available for $130 and the costliest of which is available for $525 per person. More details available on the ticket booking page. 

Remarkables Helicopter Tour

This trip is one of the cheapest helicopter experiences from Queenstown. 

On this helicopter flight, you fly over Lake Wakatipu for stunning aerial views.

A tour helicopter flies over Wakatipu, an inland lake (finger lake) in the South Island of New Zealand. Image: Queenstown.com

The scenic tour provides fantastic views of the Remarkables mountain range before you get down to feel the snow below your feet. 

After spending ten minutes taking photos and exploring, you get back to your helicopter for the return trip. 

Ideal for: Travellers on a budget, and those with lack of time

Departure: The Helicopter Line Helibase, Lucas Place Queenstown Airport (Google Map)

Duration: 20 minutes
Tour Operator: Totally Tourism – The Helicopter Line
Tour timings: Flights take off from 8 am to 5 pm, all year round. After the booking, you can agree with the operator on time. 

Cost of the helicopter tour

Adult ticket (12+ years): $184 (300 NZD)
Child ticket (4 to 11 years): $129 (210 NZD)
Infant ticket (0 to 3 years): $92 (150 NZD)

*Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters also offer the same helicopter tour

Alpine Scenic Flight from Queenstown with snow landing

This trip happens on a 6-seater Airbus Squirrel helicopter, and you get to see spectacular views of Skippers Canyon, the Wakatipu Basin, and Queenstown.

You then land on a snow-capped peak to take in the fresh air and photographs. 

Ideal for: Groups of friends and families

Departure: 35 Lucas Place, Frankton, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand (Google Map)

Duration: 30 minutes
Tour Operator: Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters
Tour timings: 9 am, 2 pm, 3 pm

Cost of the helicopter tour

Adult ticket (12+ years): $241 (400 NZD)
Child ticket (0 to 11 years): $170 (280 NZD)

*Yet another helicopter operator called Over the Top Limited offers the same tour with 45 minutes duration. Check them out

Clarke Glacier Explorer Flight

This helicopter tour starts with views of Queenstown, then the Paradise Valley and finally of the Mount Aspiring National Park.

You enjoy captivating scenery of blue-green ice formations and majestic mountain spires, till you reach Clarke Glacier for a touchdown.

Snow landings help you take in the grandeur of the mighty mountains. Image: Nztravelorganiser.com

After you get a feel of the snow and take enough photographs, the chopper gets back to Queenstown. 

Ideal for: Couples, families, and groups of friends

Departure: 35 Lucas Place, Frankton, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand (Google Map)

Duration: 30 minutes
Tour Operator: Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters
Tour timings: 9 am, 2 pm, 3 pm

Cost of the helicopter tour

Adult ticket (12+ years): $405 (670 NZD)
Child ticket (4 to 11 years): $286 (470 NZD)

Southern Glacier Experience Helicopter Flight

This trip starts when you take off on your chopper from the Northern shores of Lake Wakatipu.

The rugged peaks of the Remarkables mountain range come into view, and when you look down, you get ariel views of Queenstown.

Once you reach Jura Glacier, the helicopter lowers itself for a snow landing. 

After admiring panoramic views of Mt Aspiring’s remote alpine landscape, you get onto the helicopter for the return flight.

On the way back, you see picturesque valleys of the Rees and Dart rivers.

The beautiful valley created by the Rees and Dart rivers in New Zealand. Image: Doc.govt.nz

Ideal for: Families and couples 

Departure: The Helicopter Line Helibase, Lucas Place Queenstown Airport (Google Map)

Duration: 50 minutes
Tour Operator: The Helicopter Line
Tour timings: Flights take off from 8 am to 5 pm, all year round. Departure timings can be discussed with the operator and agreed on.

Cost of the helicopter tour

Adult ticket (15+ years): $406 (670 NZD)
Child ticket (4 to 14 years): $284 (470 NZD)
Infant ticket (0 to 3 years): $203 (335 NZD)

Lord of the Rings and Glacier Helicopter Tour

Mr. Alfie Speight will be the Pilot and host of this helicopter tour.

He was the primary film pilot for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies and also piloted his chopper during numerous stunt scenes of ‘Mission Impossible – Fallout.’

All along the tour, you get to hear his stories about how the movies were filmed.

Mr. Speight lands the helicopter at two places – Clarke Glacier in Mt. Aspiring National Park and Skippers Canyon. 

Clarke Glacier in Mt. Aspiring National Park. Image: Inspirock.com

Some of the fictional spots you can see during this tour include Isengard, Misty Mountains, Amon Hen, Lothlorien, and the Redhorn Pass. 

You also get to see the mountain range from the opening scene of ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,’ 

Ideal for: Movie buffs and groups of friends

Departure: 35 Lucas Place, Frankton, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand (Google Map)

Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes
Tour Operator: Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters
Tour timings: 2 pm

Cost of the helicopter tour

Adult ticket (12+ years): $534 (880 NZD)
Child ticket (0 to 11 years): $360 (595 NZD)

Tours in New Zealand

# Milford Sound helicopter tours
# Helicopter tours to Mount Cook
Helicopter tours to Franz Josef Glacier

Recommended Reading

# Experiencing your first helicopter flight
# Clothes to wear during helicopter tours
# How to overcome fear of flying
Scuba diving – how long to wait before flying?
Why helicopter tours are an excellent activity
FAQs about Helicopter tours

Barkha Tiwari: She is a holidaymaker comfortable with vacations on sandy beaches or breaks where she is skiing in the snow. She mixes up her holidays with the right amount of activity and lazing around and believes that both are needed in the right amount to experience the world’s cultures and destinations. Favorite Cities: Prague, Budapest, Munich, Florence