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 (plus an infant) 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?
Unless you book all the seats on a helicopter it is likely you will share your flight with others. If you do not wish to share we do have private charter options.
Are your flights subject to minimum passenger numbers?
Yes, we need to cover the machine running costs so have minimum numbers for a scenic flight to depart. However, we’re happy to take bookings for one or two persons, with the aim of flying smaller groups together or you can charter the machine yourself.
When is your earliest/ latest flight of the day?
As we have a private helipad just out of Franz Josef township, we are not restricted by the in-town noise bylaws and can generally fly in daylight hours. Our operating hours are also weather and season dependent.
Can I pick my own seat?
We are happy for you to request seats; however, we cannot guarantee these as we need to allocate these according to specific weight and balance regulations. Seating arrangements will be assigned to you at time of check-in.
When do you take payment?
If you are booking directly with us we don’t take payment until check in time. This eliminates us needing to give out refunds if your flight is cancelled due to weather conditions or insufficient numbers. We do however ask for a credit card to hold your seats and confirm the booking and you can pay with your preferred choice at check in.
What payment types / credit cards do you accept?
We accept Cash (NZD), EFTPOS, WeChat, AliPay, Afterpay, Union Pay and most major credit cards including American Express, Visa & Mastercard.
Please note there is a 3% surcharge for all credit cards and international debit cards.
Do I need to book in advance?
We recommend booking in advance, especially during our peak season (November – May) but it is not essential. We often have last minute spaces available, so if you haven’t pre-booked please call us, or stop in and see us when you arrive in town.
When do I need to check in?
Check-in is 30 minutes prior to departure. If your group is larger than ten, please allow 45 minutes.
Where do I need to go for my flight?
Our office is centrally located in town at 10 Main Road, Franz Josef. After you have checked in our driver and van will take you to our private helipad a just few minutes down the road.
Where can I park my car during my flight?
There is street parking in front of our office, additionally there is a car park just across the road which is also suitable for camper vans.
How long are the flights?
Our scenic glacier flights range from 25 – 45 minutes. All flights include a 10 minute 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.
Can the weather affect my flight?
Yes, all flights are weather dependent, and West Coast weather can change rapidly on any given day so for safety reasons a final weather call is made for each flight at the check-in time. Please feel free to call us in advance to see how the weather is looking.
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.
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 10-12 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.
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.
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.
Can I cancel / change my booking?
Please let us know about any cancellations at least 24 hours prior to departure, for a full refund. Any last minute cancellations may incur a fee.
Please contact us 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?
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 through a third party, you may need to contact them for your refund.
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.
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.
Do you have a total helicopter weight limit?
Yes, maximum weight limits are applicable according to our weight and balance so do vary
Is there a maximum weight per person?
Yes, but this does vary for each flight according to our weight and balance.
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.
Do you have child and infant prices?
Yes, please contact the office for current rates.
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, sunglasses, sturdy footwear and your camera/phone for some amazing photos.
What can't I bring on my flight?
For safety reasons, we do not allow selfie sticks, drones, flammable liquids, lighters, open food or drink and any bags larger than a small handbag on any of our flights.
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 offer discounts for groups?
If you are a group of 4 or more, please contact the office directly to discuss group options.
Do you operate on Christmas / New Years day?
We fly all year round, weather permitting. Please book in advance particularly for these busy days.
When is the best time to fly?
Summer is the peak time of the year for tourism with the most sunshine hours, but fresh snow on the mountains the rest of the year makes for fantastic landing spots and great photos.
Suprisingly Winter is one of the best times to fly here with a lot of cold, clear days. However the wild West Coast weather changes quickly and we can have four seasons in a day at any time of the year.
We aim to fly every day of the year if the weather allows us too.
Is it possible to have a doors-off helicopter flight for photographers?
We don’t offer a doors-off option on our scenic flights. However, it is possible for professional photographers to charter a helicopter for a doors-off, please contact us directly for more information.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
What if I don’t speak English very well?
We have a Chinese team member in the office (Sophia) and one of our pilots Jay is Dutch and speaks a little German to help with language barriers. We are also in the process of putting together a safety video which will have a number of different languages available in subtitles, so we’ll make sure you feel comfortable loading in and out the helicopter.
Do you offer heli hikes?
No, we offer scenic flights with a snow landing.
Heli hikes are a different experience completely. They take 3.5 hours, approx 9 minutes of this is flying time with 2 hours spent on the ice. You can book these through Fox Glacier Guides.
How are we reacting to Covid 19?
We are following the ever changing government recommendations. We have hand sanitizer located at our hangar entry & in the shop / office. People are asked to stay 2m apart where possible, both our van & helicopter interiors & door handles etc are disinfected regularly. We already had passenger tracking in place and now track where our staff are.