Mount Cook History
The founder of Mount Cook Ski Planes, Harry Wigley, developed an interest in aviation while still at school and started flying in the early 1930s and gained his A Class pilot’s licence in 1935. He also flew with the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
In 1953, while flying tourists around Mount Cook and over the glaciers, Harry Wigley saw the need for a retractable ski that would allow aeroplanes to take off from an airfield and land on snow.
Although fixed skis used for snow takeoffs and landings existed, international enquiries confirmed that a retractable ski had not yet been developed. Fixed skis were not practicable at Mount Cook Airfield, where snow remains on the runway for only a limited time during the winter.
Hundreds of hours were spent developing a wheel that protruded through the ski during takeoff and landing at the airfield. The ski was then mechanically lowered during flight to allow landings on the snowfields of the Tasman Glacier.
Harry Wigley piloted an Auster aircraft, the first ski plane using a retractable ski on 22 September 1955, with Alan McWhirter as a passenger. Another passenger on that historic day was Sir Edmund Hillary.
Over the next few years, the concept and design were refined, including hydraulically operated skis with plastic soles. The introduction of the more powerful Cessna 180 allowed the ski planes to operate all year round.
In 2015, Mount Cook Ski Planes was purchased by INFLITE and joined the nationwide network of bases. Today, Mount Cook Ski Planes & Helicopters operates a fleet of Cessna 185, Pilatus Porter PC6 and Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) Squirrel aircraft.
Discover the stunning ice formations of the Hochstetter Icefall as you fly beneath the east face of Aoraki Mount Cook and along the length of the Tasman Glacier. Experience the unique thrill of landing on either the Tasman, Fox, or Franz Josef Glaciers.
- Experience New Zealand’s iconic scenery like never before with one of these incredible scenic flights from Mount Cook Ski Plane & Helicopters.
- Soak up spectacular views of the breathtaking countryside, during your 10-minute scenic flight in one of their ski planes.
- Alight atop New Zealand’s largest glacier, and be awed by the sheer scale and majesty of the Tasman Glacier, during your 35-minute scenic flight and landing.
- Extend the experience, and traverse even more of the South Island’s unique landscape, with a 65-minute scenic flight and double glacier landing – this one-of-a-kind experience landing, on not one but two different glacier areas, is sure to leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
- Flights available in 25min, 35min, 45min, or 55min options.
- Helicopter or ski plane glacier landing flights available. Minimum numbers apply.
- Combined helicopter and ski plane options available for group bookings of 8 or more at no additional cost.
INFLITE NZ - NZ's Leading Aviation Experience Operator
INFLITE is a leading aviation tourism operator with nationwide coverage. INFLITE have a fleet of over 15 aircrafts and a range of spectacular experiences. INFLITE also provide luxury air travel solutions and lodge transfers through its Charter division.
Mount Cook Ski Planes & Helicopters have 64 years experience flying around Aoraki/Mt Cook and Westland/Tai Poutini National Parks and landing on the iconic Tasman, Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers.
Skydive Franz Josef are NZ’s original high altitude skydivers, who pioneered the 20,000ft skydive commercially in New Zealand. Their signature skydive featured in Red Bull’s list of Top 9 Insane Places to Skydive.
Skydive Abel Tasman have been operating for almost 30 years and jumps over the stunning landscapes of the Abel Tasman National Park.
Nelson Tasman Air offer four stunning scenic flight options by helicopter or plane.
INFLITE are committed to sustainable tourism through partnerships with the Abel Tasman Tree Collective, Motutapu Restoration and Kea Conservation Trusts’. INFLITE are proudly Qualmark Gold and have committed to planting a tree for every hour their aircrafts fly.
Gold Sustainable Tourism Business Award
In 2017, INFLITE & Mount Cook Ski Planes & Helicopters were awarded Qualmark Gold by Tourism New Zealand.
A Gold Award recognises the best sustainable tourism businesses in New Zealand, with the delivery of exceptional customer experiences as an integral part of everything they do.
A Gold Sustainable Tourism Award identifies those businesses leading the way in making the New Zealand tourism industry a world-class sustainable visitor destination.