In a country full of natural beauty, Fiordland is way up the ladder of the most beautiful spots. It boasts the country's two deepest lakes, its highest rainfall and some of the world's rarest birds. Most of the region has been gathered into the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area.
This is one of the great wilderness areas of the southern hemisphere, with snow-capped mountains, rivers of ice, deep lakes, unbroken forests and tussock grasslands. It also protects some wonderful animals and plants which were once found on the ancient super-continent of Gondwana.
There are many walking tracks regularly tackled by hardy souls, but for those who aren't fussed about that sort of activity and the associated dampness and pestilent sandflies or who are simply short of time but really want to see Fiordland there is an alternative.
Heliworks Queenstown Helicopters can showcase the millions of hectares of wild and diverse beauty in an exciting tour. Alfie Speight has been flying helicopters from Queenstown for more than 25 years and still gets a buzz out of everything he sees. The company offers a great variety of tours, including Mountain Spectacular, Skippers Scenic, Snow Landing, Remarkables Scenic, Ultimate Milford Sound, Milford Sound and Sutherland Falls and Milford Sound and Mt Tutoko.
The flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound is a beauty. The course goes west across the rugged Richardson Mountains where you see the dramatic snow-capped Mt Earnslaw at the head of Lake Wakatipu. The Ngapunatora Plateau, below Mt Tutoko, provides breathtaking views to the west coast of New Zealand.
The helicopter then follows a gentle descent to Milford Sound over Tutoko's rainforest and Harrison Valley. From there you have views of Mitre Peak before landing at Milford. This is where your camera will work overtime!
Back in the air, the course follows the Milford Track to Sutherland Falls, at 680m the southern hemisphere's second highest waterfall. You then fly past Milford's highest point, Mackinnon Pass, with a last look along the Clinton Valley before heading back to Queenstown with glimpses of Lake Te Anu along the way.