Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities to see from the air. A city surrounded by water, it is alive with vivid greens and blues of the lush suburbs and waterways surrounding the CBD. With its beautiful harbour and stunning golden sand beaches, Sydney is a very hard city to top in terms of its picturesque beauty from any angle, but especially from the air. Every time I take off for a flight in Sydney I see something new. Whether it be humpback whales moving up and down the northern beaches, the mass of purple in November as the jacaranda trees bloom across the city or the multitude of yachts that fill the harbour every weekend, there is always something new in the city to catch your eye.
I always tell passengers that there is no better way to see a city or see the world than from a helicopter. You are low level, close to the buildings and landmarks and you literally take in a birds-eye view of where you are. Moreover, it allows you to appreciate the overall architecture. You can see how big it is and where everything is, placing the area into a new perspective. Also, it opens the door to some very hard to reach locations, allowing you to land in the most remote places. But ultimately, some things you need to see from the air to fully take in.
I have been lucky enough to see a great deal of the world from the air but, these are some of the locations that stand out to me.
Victoria Falls - Zambia & Zimbabwe
On the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia you will find Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Located on the Zambezi River, it is the largest sheet of falling water in the world. The local name for the falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya, means "The Smoke That Thunders", named after the towering column of water spray that can be seen for kilometres and the thunderous sound of the water rushing down into the gorges. From the ground, it is a spectacular site. From above, it is breathtaking. Start off by flying along the mighty Zambezi, one of Africa’s great rivers. The area near the falls is rich in game including elephants, hippos, buffalos and numerous species of gazelle. As you become airborne you can easily see Victoria Falls. As you fly over the falls, the mist clears and you can see straight down into the 108 metre chasm, looking upon the churning waters of the gorge. It is a scenic flight not to be missed.
Tasman Glacier & Mount Cook - New Zealand
Whether you are travelling on the North Island or South Island, New Zealand is one of the world’s most picturesque countries. Snowcapped mountains, blue rivers and glacier lakes, rolling green hills and stunning temperate forests, it truly is as you see in the movie “The Lord of the Rings.” One of my favourite flights in New Zealand was to the Tasman Glacier on the South Island. Fly past the majestic Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak, to the Tasman Glacier where you land for a half day glacier hike. The vivid blue of the glacier powder lakes welcomes you as you lift off into the valley. You are surrounded by walls of snowy mountains as you fly across the glacier, looking down upon the cracked rugged surface, with some crevasses at least 30 metres deep. The helicopter lands on the glacier, a place where seldom people visit and most have to admire from afar. The entire glacier is yours with your personal guide. It is an incredible adventure.
The Grand Canyon - United States
The Grand Canyon, carved long ago by the Colorado River in Arizona, is one of the most popular sites for helicopter scenic flights in the world. Many companies operate out of Las Vegas meaning you see both the natural wonders of the canyon and then the man made colours and lights of this famous casino city. The Grand Canyon is 446 km long, up to 29 km wide and attains a depth of over 1,800 metres, meaning, unless you want to see a very small snippet of this incredible canyon, you need a helicopter! Some companies can take you on tours into the canyon and land along the Colorado River for further on foot exploration or even a spot of lunch in the secluded wilderness. As you soar over and through the canyon, you can appreciate the different layers of rock that have been carved into, painting brilliant colours on the steep canyon walls. It is a must do on anyone’s list !