Southern Alps Flightseeing
Concierge.com's insider take:
The Southern Alps, which run down the middle of the South Island like a spine, are too remote, dangerous, and just plain high (there are 27 peaks over 9,000 feet) for most visitors to even contemplate visiting on foot. And since there are no roads in the high country, the only way to get the A-plus views over ice fields, sheer cliffs, and waterfalls is to fly over them. Depending on your sense of adventure and how much you want to shell out, you can choose to "flight-see" via small fixed-wing plane or helicopter. Wanaka Flightseeing operates five- passenger Cessnas out of Wanaka, 44 miles northeast of Queenstown; passengers can choose one- to two-hour flights over the fjords of Fiordland, the 9,932-foot Mount Aspiring, or the majestic Mount Cook (New Zealand's highest peak at 12,316 feet). Prices start at $135 per person (64-3-443-8787; www.flightseeing.co.nz). A trip with Over the Top Helicopters, based in Queenstown, covers much of the same territory—but helicopters can zoom and swoop even closer to the landscapes, and you can even arrange to land on a glacier for photo ops and a picnic lunch. Two-hour trips start at $500 per person (64-3-442 2233; www.flynz.co.nz).