Featured Activities

Based in Wānaka and thought a trip to and from Milford Sound in the one day was impossible?

Think again. The secret – Southern Alps Air. We’ve got the scoop on how you can get the Milford Sound experience if you’re short on time or just done with driving.  Not to mention the views that you just can’t get without taking to the skies.

Small craft airplane with views out to the snowy mountains

The journey to Milford Sound

By road Wānaka to Milford Sound is 4.5 hours – one way. And yeah, of course it’s a beautiful drive, but why not let Southern Alps Air do the hard work for you? By air it takes just 45 minutes! All you have to do is sit back, relax and take in the vistas. The whole trip (cruise included) is 4-hours return which leaves you plenty of time to explore the surroundings of Wānaka!

From their whānau, to yours

Anne and Paul Cooper have devoted their lives to showing our manuhiri (visitors) the lay of the land by air. Southern Alps is a family run business that has been in operation for 40 years. If you happen to be a nervous flyer, rest assured you are in safe and knowledgeable hands. Anne will inform you of your flying route with an interactive map session. Your Pilot, most likely Anne’s husband Paul or her son Ryan, will lead you to your unobstructed window seat. The best is yet to come.

Two journey’s for the price of one

One of the best things about Southern Alps Air, is that your Pilot will take you on a different route on your return. Which means fresh sights and perspectives for the trip home. You’ll start at Lake Wānaka and fly over Matukituki Valley and Mount Aspiring. On your return, fly over the Dart River toward Glenorchy, Queenstown and Cardrona Valley. It’s one big, glorious loop. Essentially two journeys for the price of one.

Committed to preservation and sustainability

Southern Alps Air has implemented several regenerative tourism practices in the last 2 years. To help reduce noise pollution, they avoid flying over walkers and climbers. And they only land in designated areas to preserve the natural whenua (landscape). Pilots are also trained in engine handling to reduce energy and emissions. Additionally, they offer a free service to fly rubbish out of the Siberia Valley.

Personalised and private missions

In the Summer months, Southern Alps Air has a base out at Makarora, where they offer personalised trips into secluded valleys. You’ll be introduced to Buttercup, the original aircraft Anne and Paul purchased in 1994. She is a Yellow Cessna 185 Bushwagon, and is still in mint condition. There are plenty of reasons to adventure in Siberia Valley, one of them being that you beat the crowds.

Vistas of Lake Wanaka from aircraft

Lake Wānaka Tourism is committed to preserving our land for generations to come. So we encourage people to explore the less travelled path when possible. Southern Alps Air can get you to some untouched and secluded spots, where you can still enjoy the vistas of Milford Sound along the way.

For similar stories, see below!