This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.
Whether you take a plane or helicopter flight over Milford Sound, you will have the best time! Not only that, you pretty much will have the best view possible of Milford Sound that you can get. Booking a scenic flight tour will enable you to really take in the beauty of the area and also see the vast area in the shortest amount of time.
Sure, going on walks or boating around the Milford Sound can be fun, but flying around in the sky around one of the most stunning places in New Zealand is a must-do!
But I have to be honest, there are a few different flights to choose from in Milford Sound – which is why I’ve written this blog post! Here’s everything you need to know before booking a scenic flight in Milford Sound including the absolute best tours!
Why Book a Scenic Flight to Milford Sound
Taking a scenic flight to Milford Sound, one of the top-rated destinations in the world, may very well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you. Visiting Milford Sound is worth it and if you can take a flight, you definitely should!
Milford Sound, or Piopiotahi in Maori, is a vast fiord in the South Island of New Zealand which is connected to the Tasman sea. Filled with large mountains, dense native forest, and glacial waterfalls, Milford Sound is a popular destination to visit and see from the seat of a plane or helicopter. Taking a scenic flight over the Milford Sound is definitely the best way to see it.
The fastest way to check out the remarkable underwater valley carved out by glaciers is by flight due to the area a plane or helicopter can cover as you sit and admire the view. Soaring around Milford Sound gives you the opportunity to see a different perspective of it, one that couldn’t be achieved by boat or by foot!
Tall mountain peaks and some of New Zealand’s most spectacular waterfalls surround the stunning blue channel and largely untouched land. Seeing it all from a scenic flight is definitely something else and can be hard to put into words.
Whether you are only in Milford Sound for one day and wish to take a short, quick flight or are keen to get amongst a long, private scenic flight that lasts for a few hours, booking a scenic flight will provide you with such special memories and give you a great appreciation for the natural world as you gaze at the dramatic scenery around you.
Related Read: While in the area, check out the best hikes in Milford Sound.
The BEST Milford Sound Flights
The best flights in Milford Sound all depart from Queenstown. This way, you can explore all of Fiordland National Park from the air! The below tours are perfect for anybody staying in Queenstown who wants to experience Milford Sound.
1. Milford Sound Helicopter Tour with Glacier Landing
Are you in Queenstown and keen to hop on a helicopter to explore Milford Sound? Definitely consider going on this Milford Sound and the glacier helicopter tour. It’s a 1.5-hour journey in a helicopter with a professional pilot and guide providing you with clear communication and the best view possible of the gorgeous Milford Sound.
Soaring around the glacial mountain tops, lush native forest, and blue waters, be taken on an adventure into the heart of the Milford Sound skies, even landing beside an icy glacier where you have the opportunity to hop out and explore the area around you.
That’s right, this helicopter tour includes a glacier landing!
Simply book your tour online from $1,312 NZD per person, get picked up from your Queenstown accommodation, or arrive at the meeting point and get excited to take off! Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and warm clothes.
Although one of the more expensive flights in Milford Sound, this is a helicopter tour (as opposed to a fixed-wing flight), and it does last for 1.5 hours. Most helicopter tours are about 20 minutes so this is a more in-depth flight that is sure to impress.
Related Read: If you’re staying in Te Anau, check out the best tours from Te Anau to Milford Sound.
2. Half-day Milford Sound flight and Cruise
This tour from Queenstown to Milford Sound involves a flight there, a cruise once you arrive in Milford Sound, and then a flight back to Queenstown. A 40-minute return scenic flight in a small fixed-wing plane is a fantastically quick option to get to Milford Sound that also boasts stunning views along the way.
On this flight, you get the best of both world’s with a flight over Milford Sound as well as a 2-hour boat cruise through it. This cruise is on a smaller vessel (I’ve learned these are the best cruises in Milford Sound) allowing you to get up really close to famed Stirling Falls as well as some of the cutest NZ wildlife.
On your 40-minute flight back to Queenstown, your pilot will take you a different route so you can see another side of the national park, giving you even more amazing views of Fiordland National Park – you can’t complain about that!
This whole tour is around 5 hours in total, so it’s a great option if you’re short on time. And during the summer months in Queenstown, you can choose either a morning or afternoon departure from Queenstown.
Unfortunately, these Queenstown tours aren’t cheap and prices for this tour start from $593 NZD per adult. However, for such a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s really great value and less than double the cheapest tours by coach.
Worth Noting: For all flying tour options listed here – infants are classed as under 11kgs and are free of charge. Children over 11kgs will require their own seat and will be charged at a child rate.
3. Milford Sound coach, cruise, and flight
This tour is a very popular option as it combines a coach tour that takes the scenic road from Queenstown to Milford, a cruise in Milford, and then you return to Queenstown with a scenic flight. Basically, it’s the entire package in one!
Your coach will depart Queenstown in the morning to take you into Milford. As with the other tours, it’s a long journey, but it includes lots of photo stops along the way. When you reach Milford, you will board for your 2-hour scenic cruise through the fiord. You will be given a packed picnic lunch as part of the tour package, which I advise enjoying on the cruise.
At the end of your cruise, you will be taken to the Milford Sound airstrip to board your small fixed-wing plane for the 40-minute scenic flight back into Queenstown. You’ll enjoy uninterrupted views of Fiordland National Park while your pilot points out hidden lakes and tall mountain peaks.
This tour, in my opinion, is one of the best options for tours to Milford from Queenstown because it gives you the chance to see Milford Sound from all angles – by bus, on the water, and from the sky! It’s perfect for anybody who suffers from FOMO (like me) because you really get to experience it all!
At 10 hours in duration, it is classed as a full-day tour but you will make it back to Queenstown with plenty of time for dinner at one of its fantastic restaurants.
Prices for this tour start from $582 NZD per person and you can book the tour in advance here!
Related Read: If you want more time on the water, consider booking the bucket list-worthy overnight cruise on Milford Sound!
3. Half-day Milford helicopter flight and cruise
This 4-hour tour includes a round-trip helicopter flight from Queenstown, a glacier landing, as well as a boat cruise through Milford Sound. It truly includes two of the best ways to see this natural wonder – from the air and from the water!
The glacier landing on Mount Tutoko is the icing on the cake! While in the helicopter, you’ll see the true scale of Milford Sound and from the water, keep an eye out for dolphins, seals, and even the area’s most famous resident, the Fiordland penguin. You will even get to experience the “glacial facial” onboard; this is when the captain will take you up very close to the mighty Bowen Falls, and you will get to feel the refreshing water on your face.
This Queenstown to Milford Sound scenic flight is a great option for those who want to experience the best of Milford in a short amount of time; prices start from $1029 NZD per person! You can book this tour online here.
5. Private charter: Fiordland ultimate helicopter tour
A 4.5-hour private charter around the Milford Sound is the most luxurious way to experience and see this extraordinary place. During your exclusive helicopter tour, fly in a private helicopter from Queenstown to Fiordland over Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound and get a peak at the hidden gems of Fiordland.
In addition to your private helicopter experience, relish in a delicious lunch of local cuisine and wine as you land for a gourmet lunch. During your private tour, the guide will provide you with personalized attention and headsets will be worn to guarantee clear communication at all times during the flight.
This private tour allows you plenty of time and your own space to take in the beauty of Milford Sound, avoiding unwanted passengers and quick trips. Travel in comfort and splendor and book your ultimate helicopter tour at the cost of $11,023 NZD and make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
6. Milford Sound glacier flight and cruise (from Wanaka)
Staying in Wanaka and want to visit Milford Sound on a flight? Well then this Milford Sound glacier flight and cruise from Wanaka takes 4 hours and involves a panoramic flight on a small plane followed by a scenic boat cruise once you’ve reached Milford.
Seated on a plane, embark on a journey through two national parks, fly over the breathtaking Clutha River and countless mountains, glacial waterfalls, and right through the vast fiord.
The first panoramic flight will come to an end landing at Milford before you hop on a boat cruise to participate in viewing Milford Sound from the water level whilst enjoying tea or coffee. To end the experience, you will be embarking on the plane again following a new route to take in new scenery of Milford Sound heading back to Wanaka.
Only costing $595 NZD per adult, this Milford Sound glacier flight cruise from Wanaka is great value for money and definitely one of the best tours in Wanaka!
Related Read: While in the area, be sure to check out the best restaurants in Wanaka!
My Favorite Scenic Flight in Milford Sound
Personally, my top choice of scenic flight tour to Milford Sound is this Milford Sound coach, cruise, and flight. Undoubtedly, the flight takes the best route on its way back to Queenstown, having the opportunity to admire Fiordland National Park and the wonder of the Milford Sound.
This tour also includes a road trip along key spots such as the Chasm, Mirror Lakes, Monkey Creek Bridge, and more plus a scenic 2-hour cruise along the impressive fiord. A full 10-hour day is provided with multiple modes of transport to explore the sea, land, and sky of Queenstown to Milford Sound.
Related Read: Check out all of the best things to do in Queenstown!
Travel Insurance Has Your Back!
Life can be unpredictable and when you’re traveling abroad, the last thing you want to worry about is getting sick or injured and having to pay out of pocket for treatment.
If this concerns you, SafetyWing can help! SafetyWing specializes in very affordable and comprehensive medical and travel insurance that is aimed at digital nomads, remote workers, and long-term travelers. It costs just $45 USD per 4 weeks!
To start coverage, you must purchase it after leaving your home country, so we usually buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
Since using SafetyWing we’ve been reimbursed thousands of dollars when we’ve gotten sick. During the pandemic, they’ve even gone as far as to pay for our last-minute flights back to Canada before the border closed!
Thanks for reading!
And there you have it, the best flights in Milford Sound. There’s never really a bad time of year to visit Milford Sound and see its awe-inspiring landscape from the air. Although not the cheapest thing to do in Queenstown, honestly, you won’t regret the chance of seeing it from above.
Be sure to check out my other blogs about Milford Sound before you go, including the blogs below: