Risk Disclosure Statement

Thank you for choosing to fly with Glenorchy Air. Before booking, it is important for you to understand and acknowledge the risks associated with flying in a single-engine aircraft over and around New Zealand’s mountainous terrain. Please read the following Risk Disclosure Statement carefully as these risks will be present at all of our flight destinations.

Flight Risks

1. Aircraft Limitations

Single-engine aircraft have certain limitations compared to multi-engine aircraft, including reduced redundancy in case of engine failure. Although these aircraft are well-maintained and are modern, unforeseen mechanical issues may arise. 

2. Weather Conditions

Flights are subject to weather conditions, which can change and impact the safety and comfort of the flight. Our aircraft are flown under Visual flight rules only.  In certain circumstances, flights may be delayed, rerouted, or cancelled for safety reasons or if the conditions are below our legal meteorological minima. 

3. Pilot Experience

Our highly experienced pilots are qualified, trained and assessed under all appropriate Civil Aviation rules. Flying in a single-engine aircraft requires skill and proficiency due to the terrain and environment we fly in. While our pilots prioritize safety above all else, there is always a level of inherent risk associated with flying. 

4. Turbulence

Turbulence can occur during flights, especially in certain weather conditions or over specific terrain. While turbulence is typically not dangerous, it can be unsettling for some passengers. 

5. Motion Sickness

Flying in a small aircraft can be different from flying in a commercial airliner and may cause motion sickness in some individuals. If you are prone to motion sickness, please take necessary precautions before the flight. We carry air sickness bags in the seat pockets and our pilots will explain the best ways to combat airsickness. 

6. Emergency Procedures

In the unlikely event of an emergency, our pilots are trained to handle various situations. However, it is important for passengers to follow all instructions provided by the pilot to ensure a safe outcome. We provide a detailed briefing before every flight to ensure passengers are aware of procedures. 

Seismic Events

7. Earthquakes

Milford Sound lies within an area susceptible to seismic activity due to the presence of the Alpine Fault, a significant geological feature spanning 800km along the South Island of New Zealand. This fault line, which influences the distinctive geological formations in Milford Sound, experiences periodic ruptures, with events occurring on average every 300 years. These ruptures, often exceeding Magnitude 8, can result in considerable destruction, including landslides and the potential for localized tsunamis. A rupture of this magnitude could also inflict damage on critical infrastructure such as key road networks in Milford Sound.  

The last significant earthquake was in 1717AD. For more information, please follow the link here: AF8 [Alpine Fault Magnitude 8]

8. Tsunamis

Milford Sound and Stewart Island face the risk of both local and distant sourced tsunami events. Scientific analysis indicates in the event of any severe earthquake (Magnitude 8 or higher) a destructive landslide inside Milford Sound (including submarine) induced tsunami could be generated with devastating consequences. Supporting analysis indicates that the displacement of a significant volume of water by landslides may lead to substantial wave heights and run-up levels. Given the influx of visitors to Milford Sound, a tsunami triggered by a landslide poses a significant risk to people at Milford Sound. The only warning these people would receive of a potential tsunami is the onset of an earthquake. 

Severe Weather Events

9. Flooding

The mountainous terrain of Milford Sound results in considerable annual rainfall, averaging over 7-8 meters per year. The region’s low soil absorption capacity often leads to rapid runoff into the sea, lakes, or high-capacity rivers. Rainfall accumulations of up to 200mm within 24 hours, with intensities reaching 30mm per hour, are not uncommon. While the road infrastructure is robust enough to withstand most heavy rainfall events, prolonged and intense rainfalls can lead to road closures, isolating Milford Sound until repairs are completed. 

10. Landslides

Landslides are frequent in Milford Sound due to the combination of severe weather conditions and soil characteristics. Coastal areas can experience vegetation-based landslides due to limited topsoil, while inland regions see landslides composed of rock and soil. 

11. Snow and Avalanches

Mt. Cook National Park is filled with glacial covered mountains with very steep sides. Avalanches are very common during the summer months as the ice melts away. Using walking tracks and stepping onto an actual glacier can also be risky due to this natural occurrence. Although the risk is very low, it is still something you must be aware of when self-guiding on the walking tracks around Mt. Cook Village. In the winter months, snow can also cover these tracks and make things slippery either in the form of ice or mud once its melted. Suitable footwear and clothing should always be worn when carrying out these activities.  

By agreeing to fly with Glenorchy Air, you acknowledge and accept the inherent risks associated with flying and the areas we visit. While we take every precaution to ensure your safety and comfort, we cannot eliminate all risks associated with aviation and the experiences we offer. Your safety and satisfaction are our top priorities, and we want to ensure that you have an enjoyable and memorable experience with us. 

Thank you for choosing to fly with us. We look forward to showing you the spectacular.