Frequently Asked Questions
Please select the FAQ category below
- Refunds / Cancellations
- Weight & Seating
- Children & Infants
- Health & Safety
How long are the flights?
Our scenic glacier flights range from 25 – 60 minutes. All flights include a snow landing (weather dependent). Our standard flights are slightly longer than others in the area, offering the best value per minute and those few extra minutes mean you get more time for photos and get to see even more the incredible scenery here.
If you want a longer flight a private charter may be a better option for you.
Are we guaranteed a landing?
Unfortunately, due to the ever-changing weather, we can never 100% guarantee a landing. We aim to inform you at check-in if there is a chance you may be unable to land during the flight and discuss options available with you.
In the event of an overflight your flight time will be reduced to reflect the time that would have been spent on the time. We will refund you the cost of the landing fee we no longer have to pay, unless you have book a reduced fare then there will be no difference in price.
How long does our snow landing last for?
We have one of the longest landing times in town! Typically, your snow landing will generally last around 10-15 minutes depending on your flight length, so you can take plenty of photos & our pilots can take some of you too! Landings are always weather conditions permitting.
If my group is split into two helicopters can we all land together?
We can fly up to 16 people between the three helicopters at once, so although it may not always be possible, we will always try our best to accommodate these requests. Requests need to be made in advance not on the day.
Can I stay in the helicopter during our landing?
Yes, but please let check in staff know this may happen as we need to inform the pilot prior to take off.
Can I use a drone?
It is technically possible to apply for a permit to use a drone but it is not common for these permits to be approved due to the number of helicopters in the region and the National Park regulations. Flying a drone without a permit can result in large fines and charges from the Civil Aviation Association and New Zealand Police. More information can be found on the below links.
Can the weather affect my flight?
Yes, all flights are weather dependent, and South Westland weather can change rapidly on any given day so for safety reasons a final weather call is often made for each flight at the check-in time. Please feel free to call us the day prior to see how the weather is looking and be prepared for reschedules - this happening regularly and are for safety reasons. Rain, wind and cloud levels can all effect flights. We recommended people have access to their emails as often bulk updates are sent out the day prior to flights.
Can I cancel / change my booking?
Please let us know about any cancellations at least 24 hours prior to departure, cancellations over 24hours will be at no charge. Any changes or cancellations within 24hours are at our discretion, if we are unable to fill the seats with other passengers you may be charged in full.
Please contact us as soon as possible if you'd like to make any changes to your flight. We'll do our best to accommodate you.
How will I be refunded if my flight is cancelled?
For direct bookings we don't take payment until check in due to the large number of reschedules we have. If a flight is cancelled after check-in and payment has been taken you can either reschedule the flight free of charge to another day or time or if unable, we will refund your flight in full.
If you have booked & paid in advance through a third party, you will be refunded by them according to their own time frames.
What happens if we miss our flight?
Please contact us as soon as possible so we can try to fill those seats. We will aim to move you to the next available flight. No shows will be charged the full amount of their fare
How many people fit in a helicopter?
In our fleet we have two different models of helicopter the MD 520N Notar that can carry up to 4 passengers and the Airbus Helicopter H125’s (aka AS350 B2 Squirrel) that can carry up to 6 passengers (weight dependent) plus the pilot.
Will I have to share my helicopter with others?
Yes, it is extremally likely you will be sharing the helicopter with others. We require 4 passengers for the flight to depart, smaller and solo bookings will be paired up together. If you do not wish to share we do have private charter options available.
Our helicopter seats are 40cm wide, if you want more space we offer a 'comfort seat' option at booking which will guarantee an empty seat next to you on your flight.
Can I pick my own seat?
No, we cannot guarantee these as we need to allocate seats at check in after weighing each passenger and seat them according to each helicopter's specific weight and balance regulations - this is for safety reasons. The front seats have the most restrictive conditions. Private charters do have more flexibility and we are happy to discuss seating with your charter booking but there are still specific weight and balance regulations for each helicopter we need to meet.
Do you have a total helicopter weight limit?
Yes, maximum weight limits are applicable according to our weight and balance so do vary based on the machines requirements, all passengers on boards weight and flight lengths. Our helicopter seats are 40cm wide, if you are wider than this or you want more space we offer a 'comfort seat' option at booking which will guarantee an empty seat next to you on your flight.
Is there a maximum weight per person?
Not as such, but there is a maximum take off weight for the flight and this does vary for each flight according to the other passengers weights and the helicopters weight and balance requirements. Certain seats have stricter weight requirements than others.
Our helicopter seats are 40cm wide, if you think you are wider than this or would prefer extra space we do offer a 'comfort seat' which will guarantee an empty seat next to you.
What is a comfort seat?
Our helicopter seats are 40cm wide. A comfort seat can be booked in advance which guarantees an empty seat next to you in the helicopter. If you would prefer extra space or you think you are over 40cm wide we highly recommend this.
Is there a minimum age to be able to ride a helicopter?
There is no minimum age, but each child or infant must be accompanied by a paying adult. The youngest baby we've flown was just two days old!
Do you have child and infant prices?
Yes, infant prices are available on all flights. For infants the price will automatically be applied at check out.
We are currently running a children's special when booking directly on our website. At check out use the promo code CHILD20 to redeem a 20% off childrens fares on scenic flights.
Can I fly if I'm pregnant?
We do not have any restrictions but if you are concerned, we would recommend talking to your doctor or midwife and following their advice.
Do I need anything extra for infants?
As infants and small children can't pressurize their ears like adults we recommend bringing a dummy, bottle or something for them to suck during the last 2-3 minutes of the flight as we descend.
Most infants and children fly really well but occasionally some will get uncomfortable ears in the last couple of minutes of the flight & having something for them to suck helps this.
How old are infants and children?
0-3yrs is classed as an infant. They must be under 15kgs & sitting on a parents knee.
4-17yrs is classed a child. They will have their own seat.
All infants & children must have an adult with them.
What type of helicopters do you fly?
Our fleet includes two Airbus Helicopter H125 machines (aka AS350 B2 Squirrel) seating up to 6 passengers and a MD 520N (Notar) seating up to 4 passengers (plus an infant) which also provides up to a 50% reduction in noise over other helicopters.
Are the glaciers there all year round?
Yes, the glaciers are there all year round. Although Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers are the most famous names, there are over 1000 glaciers in the Southern Alps.
What should I bring / wear on my flight?
We recommend you bring a warm jacket in the winter and all year around sunglasses, sturdy footwear and your camera/phone for some amazing photos. The helicopter is comfortable temperature and the snow landing is generally only a couple of degrees colder than town so in the summer you'll often find people on the snow in shorts and t-shirts
What can't I bring on my flight?
For safety reasons, we only allow you to take a phone and/or camera. All clothing must be worn so it can't come loose. Please do not bring selfie sticks, handles for cameras, drones, flammable liquids, lighters, open food or drink or any bags (bum bags, camera bags, handbags, backpacks will get in the way of your seatbelts and there is not spare space in the helicopter for them). If you require emergency medicine or wish to take something for a special occasion please let staff know in advance so pilots can be made aware and ground staff can look at arranging this in advance.
Do you pick up from accommodation?
Our office is centrally located on the Franz Josef main street so walking distance from most accommodation, however if you do not have a vehicle, we can offer a local accommodation pick up free of charge (subject to availability, particularly in peak season).
Do you operate on Christmas / New Years day?
We fly all year round, weather permitting. Please book in advance particularly for these busy days.
What if I don’t speak English very well?
Our safety video has subtitles in a number of different languages available, so we’ll make sure you feel comfortable loading in and out the helicopter. Unfortunately we only currently have English speaking pilots for the commentary during flights but they'll point out the main sites and you'll still get amazing views
Do you offer heli hikes?
No, we offer scenic flights with a snow landing.
Heli hikes are a different experience completely. They are a half day experience, the helicopter flight is 2-3 minutes to the glacier and 2-3 hours are spent hiking on the ice. There is just one company at each glacier that provides these - Fox Glacier Guiding or Franz Josef Guides.
Can we hire firearms or camping tents for back country trips?
Yes, for those travelling internationally or from out of the area for hunting or back country camping we can pass on contact details for firearms hire in Christchurch and a local MIA Westlander III tent with it's own fire that is available to hire
How are we reacting to Covid 19?
We are following the government recommendations. We have hand sanitizer located at our hangar entry & in the shop / office. Clients are welcome to bring a
masks to wear during the flight and van ride if they wish. Both our van & helicopter interiors & door handles etc. are disinfected regularly. We are certified Covid Clean by Qualmark.
Is it safe?
As with any activity there is always some degree of risk, we ask that you follow staff instructions to lower and eliminate these risks.
Under our Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) certification we must meet the same requirements as the likes of Air New Zealand or the international airline you flew to New Zealand on.
Both our company and pilots all have great safety records. We have a small immaculate fleet and use modern technology so you know you will be in good hands.
Am I insured to fly with Glacier Country Helicopters?
Any accidents are covered by ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) whilst you are in NZ.
Your travel insurance provider should be able to help with any additional insurances you require.
Are there any health restrictions preventing me from flying?
We do not have any restrictions but if you are concerned, we would recommend talking to your doctor.
I get motion sickness should I take something before my flight?
If you suffer from motion sickness in cars or boats, we would suggest taking your normal motion sickness medication or consultant your pharmacist before your flight. In the unlikely event you are unwell, sick bags are carried in all our helicopters and vans.
My mobility isn't very good, can I still come?
You do need to be able to get in and out of the helicopter, but we will do our best to assist you with this. There are two steep steps to get up into them. Due to limited assistance being available on the landing sites, you may have to stay in the helicopter during the landing. If you have limited mobility please let us know at the time of booking.
If you have any other questions please email us at email@example.com