Air West Coast Ltd

189 Heaphy Road, Lake Haupiri, Greymouth, West Coast
Physical address
Private Bag 611, , Greymouth, 7840
Postal address
Other Categories: Scenic Flights Airlines
 based on 1 review(s)
Telephone (03) 738 0524
Fax (03) 738 0212
Toll free 0800 2479378

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10th July 2009
On 4th January 2009 my wife and I travelled from Christchurch to Greymouth on the TranzAlpine train. The weather was clear and we had good seats (north side facing the direction of travel). The commentary was excellent and the views were superb.

Rather than travel back to Christchurch directly on the train, we booked a private flight back to Christchurch with Air West Coast. Air West Coast offers a Mt Cook and the Glaciers route from Greymouth to Christchurch.

We had lunch in Greymouth and visited the Jade Museum. We then walked to the coast to take our first look at the Tasman Sea. In some places the sea can seem almost benign but here we could really sense the power of the ocean. We followed the coast south for a few hundred metres and came to the airport. The Air West Coast building was clearly marked and we went in to meet our pilot Samuel.

We took off in our single engine Cessna and Samuel provided us with headsets, so we could hear his commentary and talk to each other comfortably. We flew south along the west coast. Samuel explained the topography and answered all our questions. We flew over braided rivers and lakes, including a lake which is the only NZ breeding ground for white herons (too high to see any herons). The colours of the lakes were different and although we knew that this was the result of the chemical content etc. – the sheer beauty of the colours gave them a “magical” appearance.

As we approached the Franz Joseph Glacier, the weather closed in and Samuel flew as close as he could, so that we could clearly see the foot of the glacier at the point where the ice was collapsing into the river.

Once above the clouds, the sunshine made it look as though we were travelling over cotton-wool. In the distance we could see the peaks of the Alps rising above the clouds. We flew directly to the Alpine range and could clearly see Mt Cook and the other major peaks, snow-covered and protruding out of the cotton-wool blanket of white cloud. We passed the north side of Mt Elie de Beaumont (actually really close to the mountain peak) and on the east side of the Alps, the cloud cover disappeared completely and we had a clear and very dramatic view of the Tasman Glacier. Samuel circled round in that area and we could see people out walking on the glacier and nearby a helicopter on the ground, with its rotors turning, looking like a giant black dragon fly on the pristine white snow.

The cloud cover on the west of the Alps was being held back by the mountains. The sky was completely clear on the east side – all the way to Christchurch. Samuel flew us down the Tasman Glacier and the eastern side of Mt Cook, with an excellent explanation of what we were seeing. To say that the topography is dramatic is a huge understatement. We flew approximately south, for a while to see the terminal lake at the end of the Tasman Glacier and then we turned north east, for Christchurch.

Samuel knew that I was having sinus problems and very kindly descended slowly and gradually, to reduce the discomfort. We arrived in Christchurch and landed in our small Cessna amidst the passenger jets – which was quite an odd experience. The ground staff were bemused when we explained that we had arrived in the Cessna.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Samuel for a “flight of a lifetime”. Samuel’s knowledge added tremendously to what must be one of the most beautiful 2 hour flights available anywhere in the world. We highly recommend anyone to take the Air West Coast flight across the Alps to Christchurch; it is stunning and certainly good value for money. If you take up this recommendation, we hope that you are lucky enough to have Samuel as your pilot and guide.

David and Pat Cottrell

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Contact  Air West Coast Ltd
Telephone (03) 738 0524