About us


GT2 0427 CroppedGlenorchy Air is a fixed-wing scenic flight company. 

Operating out of Queenstown Airport and flying across the Southern Alps on some of the most spectacular scenic flights in the world, Glenorchy Air is a family business owned and operated by Janet and Robert Rutherford.

We provide scenic flights from Queenstown and Glenorchy to many destinations around the South Island including Milford Sound, Fiordland, Mt Cook, the Glaciers, and to the penguin and albatross colonies of Otago's east coast.

Glenorchy Air worked on the Lord of the Rings movies and offer a unique insight into movie locations with various flightseeing options and personalised tours on offer. 

Mission Statement

We have the privilege of flying in the most beautiful part of New Zealand.  Our aim is to share our beautiful environment and its unique wildlife with our guests, whilst showing concern for the conservation of this environment. We maintain the highest standards of safety and personal service to our visitors


Glenorchy Air has long recognised the importance of developing Safety and Quality Systems. We employ an independent Safety and Quality Assurance organization to oversee and develop our Safety and Quality Assurance programmes. 

Our brand new Aeroplanes have three point safety belts for all our passengers. As all aircraft have to carry life jackets on over water flights, we ensure all our passengers wear theirs. These are the modern self-inflation type and are so comfortable passengers soon forget they are wearing them.

All our pilots undergo regular training to ensure they maintain a high level of competence.

We employ GPS tracking technology so that we can keep track of aircraft for safety purposes


As we have the privilege of flying in one of the worlds most beautiful and pristine environments, our company decided that whatever we did, we needed to ensure that the environment we operated in was protected. One of the advantages of viewing our glorious wilderness from the air is that it has absolutely no physical impact upon it.

Carbon Footprint Minimization

Glenorchy Air has replaced all except one of our aeroplanes with latest technology machines. Our GA8 Airvan, an eight seater aeroplane, is the most technologically advanced aircraft of its type flying today. It has the smallest carbon footprint of any aircraft operating into Milford Sound from Queenstown or Wanaka. Its fuel burn is about 7.94 litres per passenger per hour flown.

Whenever possible we make sure that every passenger seat is full when we fly to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum. Even though the route we fly to Milford Sound is slightly longer than those of the other Queenstown operators, we keep the fuel burn to a minimum by flying the way in which we make the best use of prevailing winds. By flying our route to Milford in an anti-clockwise direction we reduce the flight time by 6 minutes thereby saving about 6 litres of fuel.

By using the GPS systems our new aircraft are equipped with, we can fly at heights and directions that allow us to reduce the effects of any headwinds to a minimum. All our pilots are trained in these techniques.

The way in which a pilot handles the engine can increase or reduce the amount of fuel burnt per trip. All our pilots are trained to operate engines in the most efficient manner possible. By operating our engines at the highest allowable manifold pressure, as well as the lowest rpm setting for any particular power output, and making sure that the fuel to air ratio is on the lean side of optimum for the efficient burning of the fuel, we can obtain a significant saving of fuel. In the industry, this is known as operating the engine lean of peak and over square.

Noise Reduction

We have developed flight paths through our national parks that (where possible) avoid making excessive aircraft noise over the tracks and other noise sensitive areas. Some noise sensitive areas such as the Mackinnion Pass we avoid completely. During the summer months, we avoid whenever possible the Gertrude and Homer passes. Where we do follow the line of a track we aim to fly at a high level which reduces noise on the ground, or we descend along its axis at low RPM and low power which can make the aircraft unnoticeable against the natural background noise.