Things to do in Southern Alps

Our most recommended things to do in Southern Alps

Franz Josef Town: Glacier Helicopter Tour with Snow Landing

1. Franz Josef Town: Glacier Helicopter Tour with Snow Landing

Take in some of New Zealand’s most impressive mountains during a helicopter ride. Land among them for even more spectacular views and fantastic photo opportunities. Meet at the local partner’s office to check in and attend a safety briefing. Then, following a transfer to a private hangar, you will meet your pilot and board the helicopter for takeoff. Put your headset on to enjoy your pilot's guided commentary. Fly over the terminal moraine of the ancient Franz Josef Glacier and up the valley over the ice river. Take in the ice pinnacles and crevasses before flying onwards amongst the impressive Southern Alps. Land on an elevated landing site to enjoy stunning views of some of New Zealand’s highest mountains. You will have plenty of time to take incredible photos before returning to the hangar.

Franz Josef Town: 3-Glacier Helicopter Ride with Landing

2. Franz Josef Town: 3-Glacier Helicopter Ride with Landing

Take in three of New Zealand’s most impressive glaciers during a helicopter ride. Land on the elevated snow landing site to take photos of the spectacular views. Meet at the local partner’s office to check in and attend a safety briefing. Then, following a transfer to a private hangar, you will meet your pilot and board the helicopter for takeoff. Put your headset on to listen to your pilot's guided commentary. Fly over the terminal moraine of the ancient Franz Josef Glacier and up the valley to see the big three from above. The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are ice rivers that plug New Zealand's longest glacier: the Tasman Glacier. Take in their ice pinnacles and crevasses while flying amongst some of New Zealand’s biggest mountains. Admire Mount Cook in the impressive Southern Alps. Land on an elevated snow landing site to enjoy stunning views of Westland Tai Poutini National Park for 15 minutes. You will have plenty of time to take photos before returning to the hangar.

From Queenstown: Mount Cook and Hooker Valley Day Trip

3. From Queenstown: Mount Cook and Hooker Valley Day Trip

Visit breathtaking locations in Queenstown as you make your way to Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Travel with a reliable tour guide who will share stories and rich background knowledge on Queenstown and the Mount Cook area. Start your tour in the stunning city of Queenstown. Drive through the Kawarau Suspension Bridge and marvel at the scenery the Kawarau Gorge has to offer. Stop at the Roaring Meg Lookout to take photos of your stunning view. Then, enter the region of Cromwell, famous for fruits and wine and where you can see huge fields of vines. Next, traverse the majestic Lindis Pass which lies between two valleys against a backdrop of a bright blue sky. This stretch of highway is one of the only three Alpine roads through the otherwise impassable Southern Alps. After taking photos at the top of the pass, drive through the Mackenzie District and visit the township of Omarama. Turning west, you'll enter Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, and Lake Pukaki will emerge in front of you. Proceed to the start of the Hooker Valley Track and depart on a 3-hour self-guided hike with amazing views of Hooker Lake, Hooker Glacier, and Mount Cook. Finish your tour by visiting High Country Salmon as you make your way back to Queenstown.

Fox Glacier: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Snow Landing

4. Fox Glacier: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Snow Landing

Journey into the Southern Alps for this once in a lifetime helicopter flight over the Fox Glacier. Begin your adventure at the helicopter base in Fox Glacier Township, where you will be greeted by your expert team. As you take off in your helicopter, be amazed by the panoramic views over the town and surrounding landscapes before heading towards the Fox Glacier. As you draw closer to the picturesque mountains, fly over dramatic ice falls and deep crevasses before you descend for a snow landing. Here you will have an opportunity to take in your surroundings, breathe in the clean alpine air and take photos in this winter wonderland. When you are finished, join your pilot in the return flight back to the Fox Glacier Township.

From Queenstown: Lord Of The Rings Tour to Glenorchy

5. From Queenstown: Lord Of The Rings Tour to Glenorchy

Enjoy a small-group tour of the most iconic Lord of the Rings filming locations in New Zealand, specially designed for fans of the films. Within minutes of leaving Queenstown, reach the Glenorchy Road, which follows the edges of the Great Lake Wakatipu, and has been voted  one of the top 10 drives in the world. Admire snowcapped mountains that arise around every corner of the journey. Your first stop will be the 12 Mile Delta. Here, enjoy a short nature walk over the 12 Mile canyon footbridge and spot trout and salmon in the crystal-clear water below. Learn about the local flora and fauna and visit the locations, where scenes from the films were shot. Next, refuel with a delicious morning or afternoon tea picnic near the famous Glenorchy red shed and wharf. Once you have eaten enough to satisfy a Hobbit, adventure further into the World Heritage Mt. Aspiring National Park, home of Lothlorien Forest, where you will have the opportunity to snap some photographs dressed as your favorite Lord of the Rings character with replica swords from the trilogy. Next, head up the Dart Valley through "Paradise" to Isengard for some time to enjoy this amazing location in this spectacular glacier-carved valley. Stories and behind-the-scenes secrets will be shared by your passionate local guides on the way back to Queenstown.

Franz Josef: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Glacier Landing

6. Franz Josef: Scenic Helicopter Flight with Glacier Landing

Lift off from a heli-base in Franz Josef and explore the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers from above on a scenic helicopter tour. Experience this natural phenomenon up close as you land on a glacier and walk through the snow. Meet your pilot and guide at the helicopter base and receive a brief introduction before boarding your flight and setting out on your adventure. Watch the ground disappear beneath you as you climb higher and enjoy the view as the city below turns into wilderness. Take in the vistas of the Southern Alps and marvel at the vastness of 2 of New Zealand's largest glaciers while enjoying informative commentary provided by your pilot. Then, get ready to experience this unique scenery up close as your helicopter prepares for a snow landing. Stand on the ancient ice of the glacier, breathe in the clean alpine air, and feel the seclusion of this awe-inspiring landscape. Hop back aboard your helicopter and enjoy more panoramic views on your return journey to the base. Throughout your flight, you'll also fly over the Tasman Glacier on the eastern side of the Southern Alps and past Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak.

Franz Josef: 3-Hour Kayak Tour on Lake Mapourika

7. Franz Josef: 3-Hour Kayak Tour on Lake Mapourika

Gear up for an incredible, three-hour guided kayaking experience. Begin your adventure by meeting your experienced team at the local partner's office in Franz Josef. Join them and your small group on a complimentary transfer out to Lake Mapourika. Glide effortlessly across the water, taking in panoramic views of the Southern Alps, glaciers, and untouched Jurassic rainforest reflected on the glassy waters of Lake Mapourika. Paddle into the heart of the Okarito Kiwi Bird Sanctuary, exploring the protected area with your knowledgeable guide. Tours depart at various times throughout the day. Mornings are often the calmest time of the day on the lake, a perfect choice for photographers looking to capture the beauty of the area. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and an experience not to be missed during your visit to Franz Josef.

Franz Josef Glacier: 2-Hour Scenic Lake Mapourika Cruise

8. Franz Josef Glacier: 2-Hour Scenic Lake Mapourika Cruise

Soak up panoramic views of the Southern Alps and glaciers reflecting on the mirror-like waters of Lake Mapourika on this 2-hour scenic cruise. The lake was created by the Franz Josef Glacier as it retreated 14,000 years ago and now sits calm and reflective between the Southern Alps and the sea. Meet your experienced skipper and small group at the office in Franz Josef and take a complimentary transfer out to Lake Mapourika. Board the boat, then sit back and relax onboard the Hanna-k in the comfortable enclosed cabin or on the covered back deck. Your skipper will take you through to the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary on the far shorelines of the lake and will help you spot New Zealand's native birds. Enjoy informative commentary and fascinating stories as you cruise past untouched Jurassic rainforest and 900-year-old Kahikatea trees. Sip on a cup of complimentary tea or coffee as you unwind in beautiful Glacier Country, a picture perfect way to escape the crowds and enjoy the West Coast’s scenery.

Franz Josef: Glacier Helicopter Ride with Snow Landing

9. Franz Josef: Glacier Helicopter Ride with Snow Landing

Board the helicopter at the local partner’s base in Franz Josef, then ascend into the New Zealand's highest mountain range known as the Southern Alps, where panoramic views await. Soar across the sky, passing over the spectacular ice pinnacles and crevasses of Franz Josef Glacier on the way to the snow landing site. Throughout the tour, soak up once-in-a-lifetime views of snow-capped mountains, ancient glacier as well as some of New Zealand’s highest peaks. Arrive at the landing site and take your first steps onto the snowy landscape. Be amazed by the sheer beauty of your surroundings as you are dwarfed by the size of this mountainous West Coast region. Enjoy enough time to take photos and soak up this magical location, then board the helicopter for the return journey to the base. Another view of this amazing and unique glacier formation as you descend back down across temperate rainforest and safe landing back at base.

Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Lake Mapourika Cruise and Walk

10. Franz Josef Glacier: 2.5-Hour Lake Mapourika Cruise and Walk

Begin your adventure at the meeting point in Franz Josef to join your small group and transfer out to Lake Mapourika with your guide. Cruise across the lake in the comfort of the boat and enjoy a stunning vista of Southern Alps and glaciers. On a clear day enjoy views as far as Mount Cook.   Sit back as you arrive into the calm estuary of the Okarito Kiwi Sanctuary. Your local knowledgeable skipper will provide you with exclusive access and will guide you through a private rainforest trail.   Follow your skipper through the Jurassic rainforest track and get local insight on the region. Spot native birds as you find your way to the scenic lookout, the perfect spot for a cup or tea or coffee made on the spot.

Other Sightseeing Options in Southern Alps

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What people are saying about Southern Alps

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 59 reviews

Professionals from first contact and better still a family company! Thoroughly enjoyed the flight with Poppy who went out of her way to provide a memorable experience. One of our group had his first flight in a helicopter and was amazed!

If you are a Lord of the Ring Fan this tour is a must trip. I cannot explain it in just a few words all I can say is WOW.

Short ride, but worth it. Unfortunately due to poor weather we did not do a snow landing.

Beautiful ancient podocarp forest. Pleasant lake ride. Interesting commentary.

가이드님이 매우 친절하며 긴 시간임에도 지루하지 않고 재밌는 하루였습니다. 다시한번 감사드립니다