Scenic flight over Lake Tekapo

This is one of a series of stories written for us by UK based customers Glynis and Graham, following their travels around New Zealand last Summer.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we do...

Omg! Then we did this on a whim!

We left Twizel and drove down the canal which links the top lake and dam to the rest of the complex. Nothing like any canal I have seen in England or France. Turquoise, wide and cutting straight through the brown landscape.

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So then our routes takes us along the other side of the lake we went to yesterday when we went to the bottom of Mount Cook. All the way along the lake we can see the mountains and the snow caps.  We are going to Lake Tekapo to the observatory to see the view and have the coffee as recommended by Carole. Then we pass the airfield. The day is clear and warm and no wind. We call in to see what the chances are of a flight over all the bits of NZ we have now driven over.

High as it turns out. 2 seats left on the 6 seater plane leaving in 20 minutes. So we book. Just like that. You have to understand I hate flying so to do this the motivation is ENORMOUS.The promised route is everything we have seen from the West to the East coast before we leave it all to go back to the East coast. Everything we have seen, the coast, the mountains, the glaciers, the lakes, the canals. On a perfectly beautiful, warm, clear, windless, sunny day.

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The engine takes 3 attempts to start. Am I worried? No. I am anticipatory. This is the riskiest thing I could possibly do!

We take off over the road! Direction Mount Cook, over the town of Tekapo. Pop about 300. Over the lake. Over the observatory where we will have lunch carole! As recommended. We follow the road up to mount Cook that we drove up and down to yesterday afternoon.

We see the contrasting colours of the lakes as one is glacial and the other is something I missed. The pilot is the guide. It's like having the coach driver who took us over the mountain pass to Doubtful Sound and just as bumpy with the air currents! This driver is reassuringly more professional and less of a jokey clown than our bus driver. Both appropriate for their respective tasks though. Don't get me wrong.

Braided rivers filled with glacial dust which leaves white trails on the flat valley floor. We fly across the Sybil braid towards the 10 000 feet high peaks. Snow banks standing out in the black gritty cols that we could put our hands out and touch.

Above Tekapo

 The lakes up here are a light grey, just up from Snow White. Murchison glacier, Mannering glacier on this East side. Slow moving and thick thick. 600 metres. Then over the great NZ fault line and we can see the sea on the west coast right down the Tasman glacier all the way along where we have driven. And now we are all around the mountain tops and the ice and glaciers. We fly over the tops of the hugest mountains and we are looking directly at them ! WOW! Graham and I pass the iPad backwards and forwards to get everything on both sides! We have a million photos.

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And over the Fox glacier. And then the Franz Joseph and we can see to the bottom from the top! And we can see where we walked to last week, (was it only 12 days ago?) when we stayed there! We are now one of the annoying noisy gnats we saw when we were there. And it's magical and I am so glad we waited till the end to do this as I had thought about it earlier but the weather was never this clear and amazing before. Then we start the journey back. They said it would be 40 minutes but as it's a lovely day and ideal conditions and the pilot seems to be having a good time so it's closer to an hour. Result!

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This time we can see the tiny houses clustered at the bottom of mount Cook where we were yesterday. Insignificant and almost invisible against the mountains soaring up behind them. The road leading in is not visible at all.

This was worth waiting for as an experience. Everything we are seeing from here we have seen. From the ground. Unbelievable perspective. And some things you can never see from the ground. Not even if you tramp the wilderness for days. Back over the lake and town and the famous observatory.

And in to land and it's over but I am still high.

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And we have a certificate!

And now we are at the observatory having lunch. I showed the waiter the picture of it I have just taken as we flew past. He hasn't done it but is on a promise. I hope he gets to go.

Here are a few more pictures,  spectacular!


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