The big day has arrived, we are going on a helicopter flight over Mt Cook and the four glaciers: Hooker, Tasman, Fox and Franz Josef. Looking out the window it was overcast! Will we fly? Certainly not at 10am as originally planned, but call later, maybe noon.
So with that we toddled off and looked at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Tekapo, a small stone church looking out over Lake Tekapo with a view from behind the alter to ensure you return each Sunday. No photos inside please. Nearby was a statue of a Collie dog, credited with ensuring the success of sheep breeding in the Mackenzie district.
We then set off for the hour’s drive to Mt Cook Village near to the heliport where we received an update, maybe 1:30. A coffee and cake at the Hermitage overlooking the clouds (but they were rising) and then we set off for a walk along the Tasman Glacier Track. You could imagine being all on one’s own…but not to be with a car park crammed with campers (and the rare car) and numerous people along the track.
We stopped at a memorial to those, particularly climbers, who had lost their lives on the slopes of Mt Cook.
Finally the call came: yes we are flying at 2:30. And what a flight!
Up over the glaciers and along side Mt Cook (3,754 m or over 10,000 ft) plus Mt Tasman and 17 other mountains over 3,000 m.
We flew up the Tasman Glacier valley (the glacier has receded and now there are many miles of moraine and then a large lake before you reach the face of the glacier) on the east side.
We then flew over the saddle and onto the west side of the mountains to the Fox and Franz Joseph Glaciers where we landed for some fun in the snow and ice.
The glaciers were covered with a reddish pink tinge which the locals blamed on the Australian bushfires for sending over smoke and fine ash that then settled on their nice white glaciers.
We then returned over the saddle and flew down the Hooker Glacier with Mt Cook right there outside the window. Interesting to see Muller Hut down below (1,800m), the starting point for ascents of both Mt Cook and Tasman.
Back over Mt Cook Village and then to the heliport. Wow, what a trip. Well worth doing.
With all that excitement over we just needed there classic car picture and then returned to Tekapo for a dip in the hot springs and out to dinner overlooking the lake.