Having never been on a helicopter, from the moment of booking I was excited.
It was an EARLY start from Queenstown, well it was planned to be a 7:30 am departure but morphed into an 8:05 pull away from the mountainside kerb. We had an 11 am helicopter fighter time so @maccagraeme bolted the Getz oven the hills and passes to get us to Glentanner heliport. From there we had no time to reconsider our choices, straight on the 50 minutes flight with snow landing over Mt Cook.
The first think about helicopters, the take-off is weird…. Up a few metres and then straight forward. It is such an odd sensation but, probably cause it is new, completely adrenalizing.
The flight took us up the meandering river that flows from the Tasman glacier, to a huge 3km long lake that was not there 30 years ago, yup that is global warming in action.
Also, having never really thought about it, I was surprised that the glacier was black…. Well at least the lower flat portion of it, they apparently pick up dirt and gravel….. due to ablation….
Our snow landing on a 7500ft opposite Mt Cook was awesome, to literally swoop in and land and then to look across the valley and glacier below to Mt Cook…. Words don’t do it.
We had a good 15 minutes up top before the real helicopter adventure began…. Straight across the valley, climbing to about 9000ft and over the range to the western side of the island. From up there we could see the Tasman Sea stretching out towards Australia. Circling around we took in the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers before circling the peak of the mountain, seeing climbers scaling up the cliff edges. It was then the Hooker glacier and home.
It may have been only 50 minutes, but it was the most awesome incredible 50 minutes.
One thing to note, when you hit turbulence in a helicopter, and as you might imagine there is a fair amount of it as you the Southern Alps, you feel very vulnerable and just a tad nervous. 😌
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