Wings in The Clouds
The next morning early, (Friday), we headed to Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, a mecca amongst New Zealand’s holiday and ski resorts. René dozed as I negotiated the eight hour road journey, with views of the Southern Alps morphing in and out of vision, we made good time spurred on by the knowledge that we had to make our 16:00 PM appointment for our flight over those famous Alps. We arrived at the airfield and boarded the small 6 seater Cessna 185 Skywagon, and were whisked skyward after a quick safety speech by our pilot. The overhead wing Cessna is an obvious choice for sightseeing planes giving the passengers unimpeded views out of the windows and as we climbed I noticed a cricket match taking place on an adjoining field. I wondered if there had ever been any close encounters of cricket balls and aircraft!
Once clear of any possible cricket ball encounters, our pilot banked to starboard and took us first over the Remarkables, a Winter favourite ski area, then headed West toward the Southern Alps. Between the oohs and aahs of us all, she mentioned many of the peaks we flew over, but the names were lost except for those that stood out such as Moonlight, Coronet Peak and Grant Glacier, an alpine glacier some 2500 metres high in the Alps.
The 30 minute flip seemed way too short as we banked and headed back to Queenstown, encountering cloud cover as we descended past mountain peaks, at times having no vision except thick cloud! It was quite unnerving and a relief as we broke through the cloud and saw Lake Wakatipu glistening below us, rushing past as our pilot guided us down between Ben Lomond and Walter Peak toward the airfield in Frankton on the lake’s north shore.
After the plane landed, as we disembarked, I said to René:
“How awesome was that Babes? After Earthquakes, accidents, Tsunamis and Whale rescues, we come down to Earth in a plane!”
“Absolutely fantastic!” René agreed “I’m so glad we did this Phil, but also thankful of that medication, I felt like I was floating on the clouds!” She joked as we filed past the next lot of eager adventurers waiting to board the plane.
“Let’s rather overnight here my Darling and do the Shotover Jet Boat ride tomorrow!” I suggested! We had planned to drive back and overnight at Geraldine, one of those little gem towns one comes across on your travels, and have a shorter road to Kaikoura in the morning.
“I’m not sure if I should do that, but will decide tomorrow.” René said, proffering her broken right arm. “Great thinking that man, let’s look for a hotel.”
We booked into the St Moritz overlooking Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown and we were thankful to be able to sit down and relax! It had been a long drive down the South Island to Queenstown and with the rushing to take up our seats for our airplane flip, we could be excused for being a little exhausted. René sat down gently on the sumptuous sofa in our room and grimacing said:
“What a day, where are those magic pills Phillip?” “My arm, ribs and head are crying enough!”
“Let’s order dinner in the room and chill out.” I suggested. “Come I’ll help you get undressed.” I added with a lecherous glint in my eye.
Cold Play’s Paradise played with the video captioned This is Why We Fly, was the inspiration that took Phillip and René down to Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu: