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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Heliflight from Milford

We had originally paid extra to take a scenic and breathtaking flight from Milford back to Queenstown. We'd planned on driving up to Wanaka & wanted to get there at a reasonable hour. Due to the usual weather, the plane flight was canceled, but we were able to "upgrade" (i.e. pay more!) and catch a helicopter ride back to town instead of spending 4 hours in the bus.

It was the two of us & two other women wanting to get back to town sooner. We quickly lifted off the ground & flew into the clouds.

This is where the river runs into Milford Sound- sorry for all the window reflections & the blade motion.

The valley itself & the river are quite impressive, and the hovering clouds add a aura of mystique to the landscape.

Many more trees and waterfalls as we left the sound and headed back across to Southern Alps to Queenstown.

It was cool to be at the top of the very steep mountain faces & look down below (instead of looking up from a boat).

Waterfalls and rivers meandered in and out of sight as they cascaded down the mountain.

It was a beautiful ride, but I can only imagine how stunning it is when the weather is clear & the waterfalls are still running strong.

We flew inland along the valley floor & followed the river.

There's actually a really large high-country farm station in the middle of nowhere.

Sometimes the river displayed some very impressive rapids.

Away from the water & over top of the mountains, the ride got pretty bumpy & we started climbing.

There were several terrifying minutes that we were flying into the clouds & I kept trying to remember that the pilot knew all these peaks like the back of his hand.

Again, this is all part of the area where Lord of the Rings was filmed & the landscape all looked so foreign and other worldly.

I looked at these remote valleys and wondered if anybody had ever set foot in there.

For all the money we paid, we did get a very cool stop on top of a bluff back at Lake Wakatipu. This is one of my favorite shots from our whole trip- on a mountain, overlooking a lake, in the clouds.

We fit 5 people & all our luggage in that tiny helicopter.

Although not as clear as our earlier days in Queenstown, the clouds added a very moody feel to the scene.

We were right around the lake from where the Dart River Jet boats came out of the river and into the lake.

This one is already hanging on the wall at my office :)

The whole crazy flight was worth it to stop at this area & enjoy the amazing view.

Lots of wind!

I took a picture with the pilot just because he was that much of a character- such a cowboy & rebel, braving the treacherous weather & taking such risks.

Loved the blue-green water in Lake Wakatipu.

I sat in the middle with 2 men on either was a tight fit & hard to take photos out the windows.

This was generally my view, but it was nice to be surrounded by windows on our first of three helicopter flights in New Zealand.

GOOD NEWS OF THE DAY: Hubby is going to cook his first brisket today.

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