New Zealand Air Travel

Charters, Scenic Flights and Helicopters

New Zealand air travel options are not limited to simply getting from A to B. You may know the bigger names like Air New Zealand, but there are plenty of other small air travel operations running charter flights and scenic tours across all regions of New Zealand.

These services are handy for getting to some of the more out of the way parts of the country, especially small islands just off the coast of mainland New Zealand.

Since small aircraft fly lower and slower than jets, a scenic flight is also a much better way to see the countryside from the air since you’re closer to what you’re experiencing and you have more time to take in the sights.

Domestic Airports

Five of New Zealand’s airports offer international flights: Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown and Dunedin. However, there are smaller domestic airports in most medium-sized towns around the country that cater for a wide choice of air travel.

In addition to these small airports, which are serviced by the major airlines, there are small air strips for use with private planes and charters.

Charter Flights

Of course, the major airlines make their money by flying large numbers of people to popular parts of the country. But it wouldn’t make financial sense for them to schedule regular flights to less common destinations within New Zealand. So if you want to really get off the beaten path, you may have to charter a private plane.

Scenic Flights

Aerial View Over Mt Cook National Park
Aerial View Over Mt Cook National Park

Scenic flights are for visitors who aren’t concerned with trying to get somewhere, but just want a beautiful view of the country from the air. They generally land at the same air strip or airport they took off from.

In the South Island, scenic flights give you the opportunity to experience the true majesty of the Southern Alps - without having to go climbing up them. In the North Island, you can sign up for a fly-by of Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand’s most famous active volcano.

Some companies offer both scenic flights packages and charter flights - in other words, you can choose from one of their standard flights or you can plot your own route in order to see whatever you want.

Air National is a New Zealand charter flights service with both jets and helicopters. Not only do they run scenic flights, they also provide transport to and from major events like rugby matches. They also run golf course tour flights, allowing golf fanatics to experience some of New Zealand’s best greens.

Smaller companies such as Flight Hauraki in Auckland make use of small propeller aircraft to show you the sights around Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf.

Air Safaris is a South Island based company which mainly runs tours around that island, but they do fly to the North Island by booking.

Helicopter Flights

Helicopter flights are another great way to experience the scenery through New Zealand air travel options, and some of them come with a built-in “adventure travel” element.

Many travellers can tell you about the awe-inspiring experience of seeing New Zealand’s glaciers from the air. The Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier can both be viewed from scenic helicopter flights. Flights over New Zealand National Parks, such as the Abel Tasman, are also popular as is the adventure activity of Heli Skiing.

Heritage Centre

The Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre is well worth a visit, will be great experience for anyone, and is only five kilometres from Blenheim, Malborough. The Centres location is the Omaka Aerodrome, which in itself has historical significance, and there is no need for you to be crazy about aircraft to appreciate the historic exhibits, personal effects, and stories from the Great War on offer.