News and Updates

Aerial Photography for Beginners

Posted by on

Our South Island scenic flights are an amazing way to take in the very best of New Zealand’s phenomenal scenery, showcasing glaciers, mountains, rivers and more. While there is no comparison to the thrill of a scenic flight first-hand, sharing incredible pictures with friends and family can help paint a clear picture of what you experienced and let you relive special memories. Whether you are a photography novice or you’re already handy with a camera and keen to add aerial photography to your repertoire, here are some tips to consider before we take off on your flight.

Choose the right aircraft

In the world of aerial photography, not all aircraft are created equal! If there is one thing you need to snag a great photo from the air, it’s a clear, uninterrupted view. All True South aircraft that embark on scenic flights have been carefully selected with exactly this in mind, with large windows and guaranteed window seats for all passengers. Our Airvans have bubble windows and can also be flown with the doors open, and our Piper PA32R Lance can have its rear doors fully removed, making both aircraft ideal for aerial photography.

Know your scenic flight highlights

A solid understanding of the main landmarks you’ll see will help you to be as prepared as possible. Taking a scenic flight over Milford Sound? Great! A spot of research will tell you that there is a high chance of cloud and perhaps some rain—but this can make for magnificently moody pictures with the right equipment and well-prepared photographer at the helm!

Experiment with settings beforehand

There are plenty of variables with flying: light, weather and altitude among others. We recommend experimenting with your camera (or phone) settings before taking your flight so you can understand which settings will get you the best result. A fast shutter speed is a must; one thing we can guarantee is that will be travelling at pace, so this is the best way to make sure you don’t end up with a blurry shot!

Bring more than one lens

If getting the perfect picture is a priority and you have a good camera at your disposal, you’ll want to bring a couple of different lenses along for a variety of different landscapes. A wide-angle lens is great for capturing a vast landscape, while a telephoto lens will allow you to zoom and capture your subject in more detail.

Communicate with the pilot

It can be tricky to juggle equipment, adjust your settings and get your timing right too. If you need another attempt at getting your shot, simply let our pilot know and we will do our best to help. If you book a flight specifically for the purpose of aerial photography, we can customise our altitude and distance from your subject and circle as many times as you like!


Interested in booking a private South Island aerial photography flight? Get int touch via email or call us on 0800 777 922 to see how we can help!

aerial photography

Photo by Tobias Mrzyk on Unsplash

Spotlight on the Tasman Glacier

Posted by on

Unlike Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers which have become household names, the Tasman Glacier remains shrouded in an element of mystery.  While it’s not our most famous glacier, it’s certainly one of our most spectacular, with some unique characteristics that make it a ‘bucket-list’ destination for all New Zealand travellers.

The Tasman Glacier is an impressive, expansive ice formation that runs down the Eastern side of Mount Cook. At 23.5km in length it’s New Zealand’s longest glacier, running south east down the Southern Alps towards the Mackenzie Basin. Because of its position on the Eastern side of the Alps, the Tasman Glacier is thought to experience more pleasant weather than it's Western neighbours. This means more sunshine hours, less wind and more opportunities for epic heli-skiing, glacier hikes and scenic flights.

Skiing the tasman

The scenes on the Tasman Glacier are jaw-droppingly magnificent and inredibly varied: huge expanses of textured fluted ice, tiny winding streams and deep vertical caves cover the icy landscape. The top of the glacier’s surface is dense and smooth, and as you move toward the bottom of the glacier, the surface becomes more rocky until you reach the iceberg-littered terminal lake.

The Tasman Glacier’s unique geology makes it ideal for a heli-hike. After landing in the glacier’s upper reaches at 1,200 metres above sea level, you’ll make your way across the landscape, exploring the many canyons and caves that lie beneath the commanding peaks of the Southern Alps. And if youre a skiier or a snowboarder looking for somewhere new to explore, the glacier has long runs from multiple landing sites.

The Tasman Glacier is thought to be over 18,000 years old but unfortunately it is unlikely to get too much older. Since the 1990s, increased temperatures have caused the glacier to melt rapidly. Over a period of 35 years the glacier went from having no terminal lake to having one seven kilometres long and 250 metres deep – reflecting the speed of the glacier’s decline.

With the glacier currently retreating hundreds of metres each year, scientists predict that in 20 years time the glacier will have disappeared completely and the terminal lake will reach its maximum size. This means there’s no time like the present to experience the Tasman Glacier in all its glory, creating memories to share with future generations.

Tasman Glacier


Posted by on

With Mother’s Day only a matter of weeks away, you’re probably starting to think about gifts and what you can possibly come up with this year that is going to be special. You’ve done flowers and chocolates to death, the foot spa is gathering dust in the garage and with isolation a reality for at least a few more weeks, you can’t just nip out to browse around the shops until you see something that you know she will love.

Well, if you’re looking for the gift of all gifts—the one that will spark surprise, delight and excitement and earn you serious brownie points—stop searching, because we have the ‘mother’ of all gift ideas right here! Give your mother, grandmother, mother-in-law or the mother of your children something to look forward to with the gift of one of our incredible True South scenic flight experiences.

Scenic flight over Milford Sound

She might have already been to Milford Sound. She might have done the cruise, seen the dolphins and felt the spray from Stirling Falls – but has she seen the beautiful Milford Sound from above? Present her with a voucher for a Milford Sound scenic flight, an experience that she will never forget. A Milford Sound scenic flight may not be something she would ever treat herself to—and it should be a right of passage for all New Zealanders and New Zealand tourists… Book some extra seats and bring the family along too!

South Island charter flight

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Is there somewhere special you would like to take her? Why not go all out with the promise of a charter flight departing from Queenstown. Fly her to the town where she grew up to spend the day reliving old memories or fly the whole family to the alps for the ultimate ski trip. If she enjoys hiking and the wilderness, we can arrange a charter flight into Martins Bay in Fiordland to join the infamous Hollyford Track—one of New Zealand’s best walks. With our South Island charter flights, our versatile planes can access hundreds of small airstrips—so let us know if you have an idea and we will be happy to help turn it into a reality.

Mount Cook helicopter glacier landing

Mount Cook helicopter glacier landing

Combine a Mount Cook scenic flight and an exhilarating helicopter adventure with our glacier landing package. This once-in-a-lifetime experience includes a scenic flight out of Queenstown, up and over the snow-capped Southern Alps to one of the airports located on Mount Cook. From there, a chopper will whisk her up the mountain to land on one of the glaciers—either Tasman Glacier, Hooker Glacier, Lake Pukaki, Fox Glacier or Franz Josef Glacier—where she can step out, breathe in the crisp alpine air and take some spectacular photos. With this offer, we’ll even throw in courtesy transport to and from any Queenstown accommodation to have her feeling like a superstar.


Best Skiing Spots In The South Island

Posted by on

New Zealand’s annual ski season kicks off in mid-June, bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Southern Alps for fun, fitness and fresh powder. So where exactly are the best spots for skiing? Whether you’re a beginner or a budding Olympian, a parent or a penny-pincher, we have a spot for you. We’ve even thrown in the spot with the best views and the best South Island heli-skiing experience to leave you counting down the days until you can hit the slopes.​

Southern Alps

Best for families
Our pick of the South Island ski fields for families is Cardrona, one of four popular fields located close to the busy hub of Queenstown. Cardrona offers group and private lessons for children with specially trained instructors for the littlies under five. Planning a full week of skiing? No worries, Cardrona’s four-day adventure programs run from Monday to Thursday. And if your children aren’t quite up for four full days on their feet, there is a fully licensed childcare centre on site for kids aged three months to five years.

Best for the budget
Mt Dobson is one of the less crowded ski fields in the South Island—but not for a lack of good skiing! With a great mix of prepared trails and off-piste trails (away from pre-prepared ski-runs) Mt Dobson offers fantastic variety. In 2020, a single-day adult lift-pass is just $90—or you can grab a season pass for an affordable $279. What’s to lose?! Just two hours and fifteen minutes from Christchurch by car, Mt Dobson is a great choice for those city-slickers who love to ski in the weekends.​

 ski fields in the South Island

Best views
As South Island scenic flight operators, we know a good view when we see one. Treble Cone’s stunning views over Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps are a truly a sight for sore eyes. A little café overlooking the lake offers a welcome respite from the slopes. Stop off for a hot drink, rest your weary legs, soak in the scenery and take some happy snaps before you set off for another round.

Best semi-pro
The Craigieburn Valley ski area is popular with experienced skiers and is a non-profit, charitable organisation. Don’t count on any extras here – there are no chair lifts, hire shops or fancy restaurants—but the trade-off is some incredible terrain that can challenge even the most competent of skiers. A highlight is the 600m vertical descent and there are hiking and ski-touring opportunities here too.

Best heli-skiing
Looking for something out of the ordinary? Try heli-skiing the phenomenal Tasman Glacier—the longest glacier in New Zealand. With True South and Alpine Guides, the Tasman Glacier experience offers the best heli-skiing in New Zealand. Breathtaking views? Check. A full day of adrenaline-filled skiing? Check. A complimentary picnic lunch? Of course! And you’ll be flying in style with comfortable and scenic flights to and from Queenstown and Mount Cook, courtesy of yours truly.​

Mt. Cook - Ski the Tasman



Posted by on

The incredible Milford Sound is more than just a picture-perfect place to visit. It is geographically unique, historically significant and incredibly important to surrounding wildlife and communities. Read on to learn some amazing facts that will make your Milford Sound scenic flight all the more fascinating.

Milford Sound New Zealand

Milford Sound is not actually a sound

You might’ve heard this one before, but Milford Sound is not actually a sound—it is a fiord. What’s the difference? Well, a sound is formed when a river valley is flooded by the sea, whereas a fiord (or fjord) is typically created when a glacier carves a valley which is then filled by the sea.

Milford Sound is deep!

You couldn’t tell from a scenic flight over Milford Sound, but some parts of the fiord are an astonishing 400m deep. This means that you could take Auckland’s Sky tower and put at the bottom of the fiord, and you’d still have over 70m—the width of a rugby field—between the tower’s tip and the surface of the water.

Pounamu can be found near Milford Sound

Precious Pounamu or greenstone can be found near Milford Sound. Also known as jade or nephrite, Pounamu was formed hundreds of millions of years ago by the recrystallisation of minerals within rocks deep under the earth’s surface. You can actually see where the Pounamu can be found on your Milford Sound scenic flight—just ask our pilot to point it out!


Precious Pounamu or greenstone

The highest waterfall provides power and water

The Lady Bowen Falls is Milford Sound’s tallest waterfall, standing at 161m high. Through a small hydroelectric scheme, the falls provide electricity for the Milford Sound village which is home to around 120 residents. But that’s not all—the impressive Lady Bowen Falls is also the main water source for the local community.

Dolphins can be seen in Milford Sound

There are thought to be over 60 Bottlenose dolphins living in the area, and occasionally visits are made by the dusky dolphin—the Bottlenose’s slightly smaller friend—and the rare southern right whale. You may spot some of these beautiful mammals from the window of your scenic flight, so keep a close eye out for any action!

It rains there for half the year

On average, rain falls in Milford Sound on 182 days of the year. The mean annual rainfall in Milford Sound is 6,813mm, so with most areas of New Zealand experiencing between 600mm and 1600mm of rainfall, it is definitely one of the rainiest parts of the country. This won’t make a different to your scenic flight experience though—the waterfalls look even more spectacular with a good bout of rain!

The Worlds Best Scenic Flights

Posted by on

A scenic flight is often the icing on the cake to any holiday, adding excitement, adventure and the gift of perspective. With so many beautiful sights to experience in the world, we’ve lined up the best ones to see from above.

The Grand Canyon, United States of America

The best way—some would say the ONLY way—to experience the Grand Canyon is through a scenic flight. At 446 kilometres long, 29 kilometres wide and 1,800 meters deep, its immense size is best appreciated from above. Grand Canyon scenic flights can take you over the Grand Canyon National Park, the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, the Grand Canyon West and the Colorado River, showcasing the fascinating, intricate and rocky landscape that is thought to be many millions of years old.

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Another of the world’s natural wonders that makes for an epic scenic flight is Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Like the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef can be seen from space, but you don’t need to venture that far to get an incredible view. 360-degree views from your scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef will have you marvelling at stunning blue-green waters, vast stretches of coral, remote tropical islands and—if you’re lucky—glimpses of marine wildlife such as whales, sea turtles and dugongs.

Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe

The breathtaking Victoria Falls In Zimbabwe

The Victoria Falls is one of Southern Africa’s biggest tourist attractions. At 100 metres high, the waterfall isn’t the tallest, but what it lacks in height it makes up for in width. Measuring a whopping 1,708 metres wide, it is considered the world's largest waterfall.  One of the best parts about a scenic flight over the Victoria Falls is not just the impressive sight of the roaring Zambezi River spilling over the side of a cliff face, but the added bonus of spotting distinctive African wildlife in the savannah below. Lucky customers may see elephants, buffalo, giraffes, zebras, hippopotamuses and more. 

New York City, United States of America

Stunning New York City

It’s not just natural wonders that make for the best scenic flights, some cities are pretty special from above too! New York City is just one of these, with a scenic flight offering a relatively quick and unique way to check out all the major landmarks in the sprawling metropolis. A New York City tour by helicopter or seaplane will let you see the Hudson River, Central Park, the State of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Madison Square Garden and more.

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Beautiful Milford Sound

We had to do it! We wouldn’t be true to ourselves or our readers if we didn’t feature our very own Milford Sound. A Milford Sound scenic flight takes the cake for its remarkable mix of scenery featuring magnificent mountains, gushing waterfalls, powdery snow, sparkling glaciers, abundant native bush and eerily calm bodies of water. Our amazing pilots fly low enough to offer close and unobstructed views of some of the best sights in New Zealand’s South Island—which we think are some of the best sights in the world.

Tips for nervous flyers

Posted by on

We’ve been operating our South Island scenic flights and commercial transport since 2012 and over that time, we've come across hundreds of different people with varying degrees of anxiety when it comes to flying. For some, it’s a heights issue, and flying is nerve-wracking no matter what. Others suffer from claustrophobia and struggle with being in a confined place for a set amount of time. Occasionally, we have somebody who can sit on a major flight between cities without batting an eyelid—but has a specific fear of small planes. These fears and anxieties are not uncommon, so we’ve put together some tips for nervous flyers to help you cope if you’re feeling a little on edge. We want you to enjoy yourself as much as possible! These tips are based on practical experience and what we’ve seen help over the years.

Stunning South Island

Practice deep breathing

Taking deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth has been proven to decrease stress, lower your heart rate and regulate your blood pressure by letting sufficient oxygen circulate around the body. Start this before you climb aboard and continue throughout take-off and before you know it, you’ll be so blown away by the incredible views from your Mount Cook or Milford Sound flight that you’ve forgotten all about the nerves!

The art of distraction

One of our top tips: bring a friend! The less you focus on your anxious feelings, the more comfortable you’ll be. Having a friend with you or being art of a group can ease the nerves by giving you a sense of familiarity and the simple yet effective distraction of easy conversation.

Heed our safety briefing

We take safety very seriously and give all passengers a full safety briefing before take-off. Listening to the briefing, asking questions and ensuring you have a good grasp on what actions to take in the extremely unlikely event of an emergency, can relieve unease by giving a sense of confidence and preparedness.

Check out our experience

We’re lucky enough to have some of the best pilots around operating our scenic flights. Our CEO Peter Daniell has over 12 years of experience in the Fiordland area and our other pilots teeming with local knowledge and eager to share their love for this beautiful country.  Not only that, but they understand the unique and often-complex weather in the region like nobody else. If the weather is unsafe for flying, we won’t fly. You’re in good hands with True South and we can’t wait to welcome you on board!


Posted by on


New Zealand’s South Island is home to some of the most incredible scenery in the world. It’s the special type of scenery that makes you gasp then sit in awestruck silence. As operators of scenic flights over Milford Sound and Mount Cook, we’re lucky enough to see these sights regularly and these priceless reactions time and time again. Our scenery never fails to disappoint—and no matter how many times you visit one of these locations, you always want to go back for another look. More than just a chance to impress your friends, relatives or Instagram followers with a photo that looks like it could adorn the front of a magazine, our Milford Sound and Mount Cook scenic flights offer a thrilling adventure with compelling commentary on the history and geography of the region, courtesy of your friendly pilot.

Milford Sound scenic flight

A scenic flight over Milford Sound is the perfect treat for yourself or a loved one, or an essential stop on your quest to see New Zealand’s ‘highlight reel’. Our one-hour scenic flight from Queenstown takes you over the Mount Aspiring National Park and into the Fiordland National Park to cruise above the picturesque Milford Sound, which is arguably even more stunning from above than it is at sea level.

Carved by glaciers millions of years ago, Milford Sound’s still and serene waters are encased by dramatic cliffs and lush rainforest. Our skilled pilots descend low enough to give you clear views of the iconic Mitre Peak, showing you exactly why it is one of New Zealand’s most photographed landmarks. You’ll also pass closely by the magnificent Stirling Falls, the largest of the two permanent waterfalls in Milford Sound, then head back to Queenstown via one of New Zealand’s tallest waterfalls—the Sutherland Falls.

Want more? You can choose to extend your flight over Mount Aspiring, the Snowball Glaciers and the Olivine Ice Plateau, or over Doubtful Sound for the ultimate Fiordland experience.

Milford Sound New Zealand

Photo by Anderson Aguirre on Unsplash​

Mount Cook scenic flight

Experience the sheer scale of New Zealand’s highest mountain by taking a scenic flight over Mount Cook. After departing from Queenstown, you’ll spend a generous two hours in the air, cruising across the Southern Alps along the main divide—which separates the East Coast from the West—and to the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.

 We’ll take you over some spectacular glaciers including New Zealand’s largest, the Tasman Glacier, which stretches for a whopping 27 kilometres before settling in a truly beautiful lake. You’ll fly over the famous snow fields [T1] that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors over our winter months, seeing them from a perspective like no other.

There is a lot to take in on this flight—make space on your memory cards and get ready because the photo opportunities are nonstop!

Southern Alps

Photo by Trent Kuss on Unsplash

Book your South Island scenic flight now!

Does one of our South Island scenic flight tour options take your fancy? We take bookings on demand, with set departure times of 8.30am or 2.30pm for our Milford Sound scenic flight. To check our availability or book your epic adventure, get in touch with us now!


Things To Do in Queenstown in Winter

Posted by on

Queenstown is the ultimate all-year destination and winter promises many incredible activities and attractions that the other seasons cannot offer. Visiting Queenstown in winter? Here are just a few things to do that might tempt you…

Queenstown Mall in Snow

Snow snow snow!

Of course, Queenstown is probably best known for skiing and snowboarding in winter. Snow bunnies from all over the globe come to explore the slopes at our local fields, in particular, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables. The season normally runs from mid-June to early September. Busses up to the ski fields depart regularly from the town centre or you can drive yourself (just remember to take chains with you!).

Hot Pools

Queenstown is beautiful but it can get cold in winter - with temperatures often falling beneath freezing overnight. Some hotels and accommodation providers have their own spa pools, but we recommend warming up with a visit to the Onsen Hot Pools at Arthurs Point. With indoor and outdoor options, this is an excellent way to soothe your aching muscles after a day’s skiing or exploring!

Historic Boat Cruise

Did you know Lake Wakatipu is actually tidal? It is the third largest lake in New Zealand and its unusual “lightning bolt” shape causes the water to rise and fall every 25 minutes or so. Cruising across the lake is a year round activity and a great relaxed way to see the local surrounds. The TSS Earnslaw is a New Zealand icon – a vintage steamboat over 100 years old. Enjoy a 1.5 hour cruise or include a visit to Walter Peak Farm (BBQ lunch optional).

Queenstown Winter Festival

The 10 day festival runs every year in June and kicks off with an opening party with fireworks. The event includes an ice rink, parade, comedy gala, competitions, markets, and lots more – with something for all ages.

Get your heart pumping

Skydiving and bungy jumping are year round activities… Queenstown is the adrenalin capital of the world, after all. 

Scenic Flights

Well, we couldn’t write this article without including a scenic flight in Queenstown! This is a superb way to experience Queenstown’s alpine scenery and snow-covered mountains, and there are plenty of options to choose from. Milford Sound is by far the most popular destination – include a cruise across the world famous fiord for the full experience. Flights are weather dependent, so we recommend booking your flight for the first day you are in Queenstown in case you have to readjust to another time.