New Zealand is blessed with stunning landscapes. Nowhere is this more clear than soaring over Aotearoa on level with the long white clouds.
Still, pilots have clear favourites.
Last week Air New Zealand's Chief Pilot, Captain David Morgan, landed on Queenstown as an all-time favourite during a public Q and A.
"I've been lucky enough to fly the entire Air New Zealand network over the years," Captain Morgan said on the Airline's Facebook Page. "The most spectacular flight I'd say is flying into Queenstown on a beautiful day."
Though a crowd-pleaser for holidaymakers and pilots alike, the Captain said his favourite stretches of tarmac did come with an "unique set of challenges."
"All airports are challenging depending on the weather," he said. "Like windy Wellington and Queenstown when there are crosswinds."
Other insights by the country's most senior serving commercial pilot was into bits of aviation trivia. Such as, what does the Z stand for in ZQN on tickets? Z for "Zealand", of course.
"This is an international code. All airports have a code which is determined by IATA," he said. Something which is a bit more obvious from the four letter ICAO: "NZQT"
Also why, when the cabin crew tell you to return to your original seats for landing, they mean it:
The balance of a plane changes as fuel is used up, and "because we calculate this before we depart, we ask passengers to return to their original seat prior to landing so that the centre of gravity is where it should be," he said.
Playing musical chairs could lead to some pretty bumpy landings.
Since joining the airline in 1985 he admitted it is a job that never gets old and he "will always get a buzz" from taking off in a 787 Dreamliner.
Much of this was extremely niche information you only gain from 43 years in the cockpit. However, Queenstown Airport in Frankton is hardly a secret spot.
New Zealand's fourth busiest airport regularly lands a top spot in the round up of most beautiful runways.
The annual Scenic Airport Poll, run by PrivateFly, named it within the top three most scenic in the South Pacific three years in a row.
However, there are a number of airfields around Aotearoa which are often passed over in the rankings, simply because you'll never fit a Boeing Dreamliner down them.
Here is our round up of the country's most spectacular landing strips to drop in at.
Queenstown International Airport
It's got the nod from Air New Zealand's top brass and 1,291,501 passengers in a good year.
The approach down the Gibbston valley, Wakatipu and the southern alps is beautiful in snow or midsummer glory. The backdrop of the Remarkables form the glassy Frankton terminal building means that the panoramic views continue, well after the tray tables are stowed and illuminated signs are switched off.
Just belt up and hold onto your armrests - the buffeting winds are notoriously bumpy.
Milford Sound, Fiordland
The scenic hop from Queenstown Lakes to the landing strip in Milford Sound really puts things in perspective. Only reachable by light aircraft the tiny runway at the foot of Mitre Peak and the Eighth Wonder of the natural world is one of the most impressive in the world, let alone New Zealand.
Whangarei District Airport
The Scenic Airport Poll found the relaxed, regional airport in Northland was voted a favourite with passengers in 2020. The flight over white sand beaches and welcoming Whangarei heads could be straight out of Bora Bora.
Auckland International Airport
A surprise addition to list of most beautiful airports. Jafas tend to get a bit jaded about flying home to the big smoke they often forget to look out the window at the treasures of Tamaki Makaurau. Whatever angle of your approach - the Manakau Heads, Piha and the dark Kauri covered West Coast or the sailboat lined islands of the Hauraki - Auckland is a stunner.
Mason Bay Beach, Stewart Island
So there's no landing strip to speak of, and the airfield is regularly covered by the South Sea - however arriving on Stewart Island's west shore is a once in a lifetime experience.
Landing on the 14 kilometre crescent of Mason Bay is the perfect way to get right into the Rakiura bush or start a multi-day hike back to Oban.
Claris Aerodrome, Great Barrier
Until recently it could be described as a 'hidden gem' but Great Barrier is well and truly on the radar of Auckland. Arriving at the Claris Airstrip involves a breathtaking sweep over Aotea, including seeing surfers catching waves on Medlands bay. From the wing of a Barrier Air Cessna Grand Caravan or a tiny Fly my Sky Norman Islander, it's the sort of flight that can make a holiday.
Tuuta Airport, Chatham Island
It's a long way to the Roaring Forties but the Chatham Islands' airport is worth the hour-and-a-half wait.
Sat in the middle of Te Whanga Lagoon Tuuta Airport appears to emerge out of the sea along with these rugged far-flung islands.
Wellington International Airport
There's no avoiding it. Wellington has some gnarly crosswinds. However, the harbour and (in one writer's humble opinion) the world's most ruggedly beautiful capital. It often is voted as one of the world's most frightening approaches, but don't let that put you off.
The walk up Mt Victoria makes for more vicarious but no less thrilling plane spotting.
Mt Cook Aerodrome / Glentanner Airstrip
Mt Cook Aerodrome was set up to bring alpine tourists to Aoraki in style. Today flying along the teal coloured Lake Tekapo and or onto the Tasman Glacier is an experience like landing on the set of the Lord of the Rings.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, go to newzealand.com