Southern Alps Air
About Us

Celebrating 37 Years of Operation

Southern Alps Air operates from Makarora and Wanaka airport, Air New Zealand’s base for flights to Christchurch and connecting flights to Wellington and Auckland. Queenstown airport is approximately one hour by car from Wanaka airport.

Southern Alps Air is Wanaka’s only locally owned and operated fixed wing scenic flight company. It has been operating in this region since 1975 and has an excellent safety record. We take pride in offering unobstructed views from window seats and personalized service.

Safety and experience

As a Qualmark endorsed company, we take pride in working to the highest industry standards. We are Civil Aviation Authority Certifiedand members of the New Zealand Tourism Industry AssociationLake Wanaka Tourism and Tourism Flight Operators New Zealand.

The environment and the community

Our involvement with Sustainable Wanaka began in 2005.  We understand that all businesses create environmental and social impact through their activities.  Ours is no exception.  We try to actively reduce any adverse effects through buying wisely, using resources efficiently, disposing of waste responsibly, reducing noise pollution and providing an environmentally and socially responsible service to our clients.

As Southern Alps Air is committed to being a sustainable business, we have the following environmental practices.

  • To reduce noise pollution we try to avoid flying over walkers and climbers and we only land in designated areas to preserve the natural landscape.
  • We offer a free service of flying rubbish out of the Siberia Valley.  Trampers/walkers are invited to leave their bagged rubbish on the Siberia Valley airstrip it is collected by our pilot and flown to Makarora and disposed of in the correct manner.  We encourage visitors to the area to pick up any rubbish they may see on their way.  Our aim is to preserve the natural landscape of our World Heritage National Parks.
  • Pilots are trained in engine handling to reduce energy and emissions.
  • Southern Alps Air donates many scenic flights each year to local groups as fundraising prizes, and staff are actively involved in community projects.

Southern Alps Air has also undertaken a native plant restoration project around its Makarora Airfield to maintain the beauty of the natural land.

The goals of the Native Plant restoration project are: 

  • To restore a small part of the beautiful native land.
  • To make the areas around the Southern Alps Air Airfield more attractive and look more in keeping with the Mt Aspiring World Heritage National Park.
  • To help offset the carbon emissions from the fuel used on scenic flights

During the summer season passengers who fly with Southern Alps Air from Makarora have the opportunity to support our "Native Plant" restoration project. Simply by donating $4 towards the cost of a native plant , passengers can make a major contribution towards the New Zealand environment which they will have enjoyed so much.

History of the company

Southern Alps Air began in 1975 in the tiny settlement of Makarora. The company operated primarily from Makarora with flights in to the backcountry, including the Siberia Experience and scenic flights to Milford Sound and Mount Cook.

12 Lloyd Dunn Ave, Wanaka, 9382, New Zealand
Switch to desktop site