We left Franz Josef, but not yet glacier country as we made a little detour to a viewpoint for Fox Glacier and then to Lake Matheson. This is a mirror lake and on nice days without wind you can see the tops of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman in it. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t that great when we were there, even though the reflections did come out better than expected 🙂 This was our coffee break, then we went on towards Haast.
Haast I remembered from my last visit as being very much in the middle of nowhere and having not much to offer. It’s still like that, a bit bigger maybe, but at least we got some lunch there 😉 From there it was more scenic drives through the mountains and past the Gates of Haast where we got off the bus for a photo stop – even though it’s illegal to be a pedestrian on the bridge 😉
Next stop were the Blue Pools, a nice walk leading us down to a swingbridge and crystal clear blue water, glistening in the sunshine and with the mountains as backdrop – not bad at all 🙂
Once we reached Lake Wanaka, we did a couple more photo stops because the scenery was absolutely breathtaking! Then it was time for the activities: we had some skydivers, some wanting to fly their own plane and me, going for the 1940s plane experience. We got dropped off there and signed in, then my pilot Peter took me to put on my outfit: a green overall, thick leather jacket, leather helmet and goggles 🙂 The helmet had the headphones in it and a cable dangling down so we could communicate once we were up.
He took some pics of me outside and in the plane, I got the front seat 🙂 He strapped me in with leather “seat belts” which meant I could not really move much. When you look at the photos, that’s the reason why most of them are a bit crooked to one side or the other 😉
What can I say? It was an absolutely great experience, I loved every minute of it! And I understand now why the first pilots felt like pioneers – it is a huge difference to what we call flying today 🙂 You feel the wind and the elements, how the plane reacts to it and it is just amazing 🙂 We only had 20 minutes, but I could have stayed up much longer than that – the views over Lake Wanaka of course helped too 😉
When we got into Wanaka, we checked into our hostel and pretty soon after went to find some dinner. It turned out to be Indian that night, very tasty! After that, I was pretty much ready for bed and the others went to the pub 🙂