My Franz Josef Helicopter Experience

This week I spent two nights in Franz Josef with Wild Kiwi. It’s a small, two street town in New Zealand’s  South Island with beautiful mountain views, the continual Franz Josef helicopter drone, and with the exception of the Kiwi Conservation Centre staff, pretty much everyone has a foreign accent.

Mount Cook and Franz Josef glaciers are in the nearby mountains attracting tourists. Both glaciers come down to within 300m of sealevel, are surrounded by rainforest and are rapidly receeding – Franz Josef Glacier has lost about 800m since 2008.

With a full day of free time there to explore, what I really wanted to do was get up close to a glacier.

Probably the cheapest way to do so is to walk up to a viewpoint for Franz Josef Glacier which takes about 1.5hrs return from a carpark. Lilian and I however took the ‘YOLO’ attitude and decided to see it by taking a  Franz Josef helicopter scenic flight experience over the Glacier.

The weather wasn’t right to do a Heli Hike so we opted for a 20 minute scenic flight over Franz Josef Glacier, including a snow landing with The Helicopter Line.

Franz Josef Helicopter Experience over Franz Josef Glacier

After checking in we were given a safety briefing, but were interestingly never asked to sign our lives away. We were then led across the road and through native bush to the helicopter pad.

Franz Josef helicopter ready to fly over glacier

There were only four of us on our Franz Josef helicopter scenic flight so everyone got a window seat and Lilian and I got to sit up the front with the pilot.

We were strapped in and given headsets to listen to our pilot Brook – who surely has one of the best jobs in the world.

Franz Josef helicopter view of glacier
Snowy mountains Scenic Flight via Franz Josef helicopter

We flew up over the rugged, snow capped mountains and five minutes later, landed on snow where we had 10 minutes to wander around, enjoy the view and take photos.

When I got out of the helicopter I was surprised to feel myself sinking into the snow with every step.

two girls and helicopter on snow during franz josef helicopter ride
Photo by Lilian Pang Film and Photography
girl on snowy glacier Franz Josef helicopter flight
Photo by Lilian Pang Film and Photography

The 20 minutes went incredibly fast but flying back felt like a longer trip. We flew right up close to Franz Josef glacier and then over the rainforest to land back where we started.

Glacier view from Franz Josef helicopter Scenic Flight over glacier

View on Franz Josef helicopter Scenic Flight over Glacier

scenic flight view rainforest franz josef glacier
After we walked back into town we headed to the Glacier Hot Pools to relax and chat about the experience and round off an amazing day.

Taking a scenic flight over Franz Josef Glacier costs from $245 with these guys but I can assure you it is well worth the price tag! It’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my own country.

franz josef glacier pinterest

Would you ever take a Franz Josef Helicopter flight? How amazing does this experience look!


  1. Liz Carlson
    October 18, 2017 / 5:29 pm

    Heli flights are the best, and how stunning are these glaciers?

  2. Nicky Mackenzie
    October 15, 2017 / 1:59 am

    We visited Frank Josef and I have to admit we’re totally jealous of those of you in the heli’s! Amazing photographs, it must have been a truly breathtaking experience. U fortunately with the glacier receding at the extent it is, it may not be around for much longer. Great article, so pleased you shared your experience with us!

  3. Kristel Valino
    October 14, 2017 / 11:52 pm

    It’s always a different experience to see the view from above! Looks really fun and would definitely try this when I get to visit New Zealand 🙂

    • October 15, 2017 / 12:06 pm

      Certainly a bucket list activity Kristel! The Helicopter Line have experiences like this in a few different places in New Zealand.

  4. October 14, 2017 / 10:20 pm

    Wow this sounds looks absolutely awesome! Definitely have to do a helicopter ride over a glacier once in a life. Adding this to my bucket list 🙂

  5. Snow to Seas
    October 14, 2017 / 9:19 pm

    Wow! This sounds like on remarkable experience! I’d definitely also adopt the “YOLO” attitude for this kind of helicopter ride!

  6. Kavita
    October 14, 2017 / 8:57 pm

    The view you get of a glacier flying right above it is so much better than viewing it from where it opens out, whether that’s at sea or on land… and being able to land on it is cool too. The blueness of the compressed ice always impresses me!

    • October 15, 2017 / 12:05 pm

      Yes the blue colour of the ice blew me away and there really is nothing like seeing a glacier from above. I walked out to where the Tasman glacier is breaking off into a lake in Mount Cook National Park and there were little icebergs floating around.

  7. October 14, 2017 / 8:47 pm

    I am always deeply impressed with this kind of tours because I don’t know if I’d ever dare to go on one. Helicopters terrify me, they feel so unstable. I never went on one, so maybe I should just try to beat my fear. But then I’d be afraid of investing so much on such an amazing adventure and chickening out before it starts. I would never forgive myself 😀

    • October 15, 2017 / 12:01 am

      I do understand how helicopters seem terrifying if you’ve never been in one! This was the second time I’ve flown in a helicopter. My first experience was when I flew from Vancouver to Victoria in Canada. I didn’t want to tell my Mum as I thought she’d freak out and tell me not to do it, which would have completely freaked me out. But having been in a helicopter once I wasn’t nervous at all. Give it a go I reckon Eva!

      • October 15, 2017 / 3:17 am

        I think I should, otherwise I’ll never know. It’s just that I never had the chance. My boyfriend went heliskiing, but the idea of skiing offpiste to get back down seems even more terrifying than the helicopter ride up the mountain 😀 Gosh, I need to become more brave 😀