Friday, 29 January 2016

Milford Sound and flying

Today I wake up a little tired after last night but wanting to get right up and going. What a great day I had yesterday!  I move out of this damp flat and into somewhere new today :) I am also hoping I get to go to Milford Sound :)

I navigate the shower and getting ready situation and put lots of sunscreen on my now red looking face. I can't believe I have got burnt after trying so hard not to. It's the one downside to this beautiful place. 

I have decided to go and have breakfast at The Bathhouse again because it is just sooooo delicious :) I walk down the hill and take in the view. I am up so early that all the birds are asleep on the beach. 

I opt for this lovely looking breakfast today :) 

I sit, eat my breakfast and take it all in. I can't stop smiling regardless of the weird couple in front of me and to the right who I suspect have remained drunk over night and now are having the most rediculous conversation where he explains how "everything is bullshit"... he has already covered the government, tourists, cars, vegans and ice cubes... "Take antibiotics" he was inspired with a new line of thought... "Do you really think they work?... Nah... Bullshit... I took them last week and they didn't work at all, I kept taking them but I just got better on my own in a few days." My eyebrow rises and I mentally talk it back down.

I've looked over and our eyes meet. There is a jarred attempt at some sort of look of understanding... nothing... and he returns to looking at his drunken friend and me the mountains and the lake. 

The waitresses at The Boathouse are nothing short of delightful. They remembered me from the day before and ask me whether I am going to fly today. I feel like they now treat me as a regular although this is only my second visit. They have beaming smiles and it's easy to see they are very happy people living in paradise. 'I could waitress' I think and I consider which is better: waitressing here or researching fusion at home. Fusion wins, but only because I care about this ozone layer, this earth and these people on it. I wonder how fat the chefs loved ones are due to living with these culinary skills in the family. 

It's 10:30am and I make the call. It's engaged. At 10:33 I get through, "Hello! Yes the weather is good and we'll be flying. We'll pick you up from the Novotel behind the cafe like yesterday yes?", yayayayay I'm gonna go up in a tiny plane and see great things and then a boat! My heart starts pounding with excitement and I get fidgety. My conversation is overheard by the waitresses who share in my mood. "Great news I hear, how exciting!" 

I finish my tea and head for the Novotel. I sit on a chair there and try and work on catching up with the blog. It's actually a bit of a challenge to find the time but I also love it and so I sneak time here and there while I have tea and ice cream ;) #firstworldproblems.

At the local Novatel I sit and watch paragliders decend and at 11:15am the taxis arrives! The driver gets out and greets me with a broad smile and a chuckle. "You look ready to go!" he says and I really am. I am on the edge of my seat literally and metaphorically. I jump up and hop in the van. My heart is filled with excitement and I babble to the driver about how I was supposed to go yesterday but they said it was ok to go today (since he is picking me up he has probably guessed that ;) 

"Yeah the weather can change like that here. Yesterday some people got stuck over there. I thought we'd have to bus em back!" 

Then we're off and the drive is beautiful.

Then I am at the airport and Milford Air talks the group through what is going to happen. My face is aching from smiling. 

This is Mary, I have spoken to her quite a bit on the phone now and it's nice to put a face to a voice :) She explains which pilots we will have. The first plane is quite full, there are only five of us in the second plane with Antony. 

We met Antony, what a dish! and follow him to the plane. 

There are only five of us so we get our pick of seats. Within our group are a lovely couple Mary and Michael. Mary and Michael are really awesome people and I like them straight away. :) Michael is a pilot himself and flies for Delta; on hearing this Antony says "well you can be my co-pilot then!" Whoop! Two pilots is better than one.

We get close to the plane and I go to take a photo. Mary asks "want me to take it?" Yes! What a great day! 

Mary and I jump in behind the pilots:

Antony explains what's about to happen and encourages us to wear our seat belts :) 

We haven't even taken off and the view out of my window is awesome. 
This is the lovely Mary and her window view. Mary is a nurse. What an awesome couple, a nurse and a pilot! 

We're lining up for take off now and I'm so excited my legs are jittering. Let's go!!

Then we're off! I took a video but I don't know how to embed them in these blogs yet :P so they will remain a little treat for all your Facebook and Twitter fans ;) The ground turns from a tangible 'I know what to do with that' thing into a flight over a intricate carpet. My brain has watched the transition but I know it's struggling to really comprehend the view. I love that I can see the wheel!

The plane holds about 12 passengers and our take of was smooth and expertly done. I am now thinking 'I want to be a Pilot!' as we soar through the clouds. 

Here is the second best gold mining river in the world (the first is in Alaska). This is what drove the creation of Queenstown! I want to come back and go panning for gold! 

"Over to our left you can see Lake Wakatipu! This lake is incredibly deep at around 1000ft which means the temperature never rises much above 13 degrees." says Antony. (At least I think, I'm trying to remember now :P) 

Recognise this next pic from Lord of the rings? This area was used for eisenguard, mordor and other bits too! 

Now we're in the clouds! 

It's so peaceful

It's like the opening sequence to Highway to Heaven

This is the start of the national park. You can also see one of the awesome hikes you can do, this is a three day one! 

Welcome to Milford Sound area here you can see a mountain go from sea level to to the top one mile high. 

Milford Sound! With co-pilot Michael :) 

Flying in between mountains, like a bird among gods :) 

A really gentle landing for a plane actually under the control of a person rather than a computer :) 

Out we hop and now to a bus to a boat! 

On the bus the pilot and the bus driver discuss the weather... If they were also drinking tea I'd think they were Brits ;) 

Antony hands us cruise boarding and lunch passes. He tells us to eat food early but my tip is get your seats early and then get food :) 

The bright sunshine and the spray from the boat made amazing rainbows by the side of the boat. 

The scenery is stunning

Tea is available on the boat and I find out it is made with glacier water. :) 

Tastes pretty bad though, only Twinnings tastes like tea to me :) 

There are waterfalls everywhere! 

The water sparkles beautifully and the boat sails across the surface. 

Mary, Michael and myself have secured a nice booth with a window from where we can keep popping outside for pictures and the amazingly fresh and crisp air.

Time for a few selfies:


The captain of our spectacular trip.

On top of the boat it's beautiful. I'm on a boat, on a boat, I am on a fricking boat. 

This is a waterfall. ;) 

Seal rock!
Now closer...
And closer...

The photo of the inside of the seals nostril didn't come out well so I've left it out ;) 

Now for a massive waterfall that we back into so close that we get sprayed. It is said that you get younger the longer you're in the falls.

Here's to anything! :) 

As we sail away, I look back and it's beautiful. 

We have a bit of a delay until our flight out and so Antony takes us on a beautiful walk. 

This is called a Coru and is the inspiration behind the symbol on the back of the New Zealand Air planes.

Heading back to the plane this warning amuses me ;) 

Team photo time!

What an awesome trip so far and then as I am talking with Mary and Michael, and Michael asks if I would like to be co-pilot on the return trip. Omg!!! Yes!!!

We head to the plane and I jump in super super super excited and Antony hands me my backpack, smiles and says "If you want to put on your seat belt: It's a 5point harness, but I doubt that's any trouble for a physicist." I grin and set myself up. The seat belt is awesome, everything is awesome!  My first duty as copilot is folding up the heat shield from the windscreen :) I perform my duty excellently if I do say so myself! This photo shows the heat shield before I folded it up ;) 

Headset on so I can hear all the flight communications: 

Michael is kind enough to go through the details of the dials with me and what I am likely to hear over the headset "Sierra Kilo Bravo" is our call sign.

Antony speaks to the passengers 

"If you can check you all have your seat belts on now and that you're sat next to someone attractive. As you can see, I've done rather well up here in the front."

I grin and feel my face blush. Could today get any better?

We take off and it's awesome! 

We cruise through the sky and it's magical.

We take a different route back and the landscape is still incredible.

The view from the front is amazing! I want to be a pilot and a physicist and a tour guide and well everything... So many amazing things to do.

The mountains rise into the sky so full of strength and power. Love em! 

The photo captures the propellers in the clouds :) 

Whispy clouds around the rocks 

Snow capped mountain tops.

It's strange how being so high up can make you feel so connected to the earth. 

One of my favourite photos.

We start to make a decent and Antony brings us close to the airport

Leaning into a curve.

Getting lined up and moving down to land.

Then we (haha well not really me lol) park the plane up :) 

Wow! What a day!!! I am dropped off again in Queenstown centre and I practically skip to sit on the beach. 

I look out at this:

And I feel happier than I have in years. The sense of freedom that I have felt on this trip has been amazing! I think about how we all make our own destiny.  It's a very empowering feeling. The conversations I have had, the places I have seen, the things I have done: I can feel myself changing. It's awesome! Every time I lie to myself here (and we all do it sometimes), I think 'why bother now?'. 

What's next, a Fergburger!! The queue for this place is down the street so it feels like a must! Nom! An amazing burger on the beach. :) 

Then I check into my new place which is amazing!! 

A quick nap and I go out to meet a fellow traveller called Kyle. He is from Washington DC and I give him a quick tour of the place that I now feel so attached to after only 3 days. 

I head back to my new place with its amazing view and I curl up in bed excited to see the view in the morning. What an unbelievably good day! :)

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