Sitting upfront in a helicopter flying over glaciers and the highest peaks in NZ was a singular experience. I don't think I stopped smiling the entire trip. All respect to these white-blue monsters and to Blair, pilot extraordinaire (bows). Also to the woman at my left who was airsick the entire time but managed to keep her breakfast in place.
Some pictures are Art's, some are mine. One of the mountains is Aoraki/Mt Cook, another is Mr Tasman. We flew over Franz Josef and Fox glaciers and several others. Because I was literally shaking with excitement my reporting skillz faltered. As a result, we'll never know what's what or in which order things happened. But I think you'll agree it doesn't matter.
I'm reminded of what Sir Edmund Hillary said to an interviewer after summitting Everest:
“The whole world around us lay spread out like a giant relief map. I am a lucky man. I have had a dream and it has come true, and that is not a thing that happens often to men.”
I do know we stood on Fox Glacier
Fox is 13K (8 miles) long, making it the longest glacier in Tai Poutini/Westland National Park. Also, it comes closer to sea level than any other temperate-region glacier in the world. In some of these pix you can see the Tasman Sea in the distance.
At the head of the glacier lies endless expanses of snow called neves, and within these areas the weight of new snowfall creates glacial ice in just three to five years. Ice can be 300 meters (984 feet) deep in the neve.
Did Blair purposely fly right up to the vertical walls of folded rainforest before lifting straight up just to hear me scream? It's possible.
Down there among the green folds, Blair sighted a tahr (wow, I thought. He's adorable and he has supervision) A what? Behold the mighty tahr...
Originally from the Himalayan Mountains of Asia, these magnificent mountain goats were liberated in New Zealand’s Southern Alps in 1904...The Tahr is the perfect extreme mountain animal with only the Rocky Mountain goat challenging him as the ‘King of the Mountain’. The tahr bounds down almost vertical rock bluffs, their hooves barely touching the rock, while we only can stand and watch in awe.
Can you see the tahr? I couldn't either.
I think I shot this one through the floor...
Back on earth (too soon!), The Queen of Flat Whites has worked up quite an appetite. These eggs bennie at the suitably named Cafe Neve were just the grounding we needed.
Thank you for flying with us.