John & Anne Wiley

2017/03/26

Second Is First

Well, I’ve finally reached this Over Under Adventure’s epiphany of our NZ flying (Wanaka, the second and most amazing of our two fabulous flights in a single day). These are the first of a very few pix I’ll post among my many faves among about 1,400 from our flight with CFI extraordinaire Gabrielle of U-Fly Wanaka. She generously took time out from her afternoon of Christmas eve to give us a leisurely eagle’s eye view of the Hobbit wilderness.

1332 Wanaka Takeoff

1332 Wanaka Takeoff

Having just enjoyed the beautiful drive from Clyde (I’ll spare you those magnificent pix), lifting off from Wanaka airport opened a whole new world. This short flight took the glories we’d seen from the road and expanded this striking scenery into an entirely new dimension of delights. After a glimpse of Lake Wanaka we turned East climbing out over Lake Hawea looking at the mountains beyond, and of course a vast panorama of similar wonders in every direction.

133407 Lake Hawea

133407 Lake Hawea

Below us the clear water unlocked shades of blue that dazzled the rods and cones in our overwhelmed eyes even beneath the high clouds. Like this sandy delta at the mouth of Craig “Burn” (aka stream).

1343 Shades of Blue Burn

1343 Shades of Blue Burn

We meandered across the Neck to Lake Wanaka, where the North tip offers this view up to the distant craggy peak of Mount Aspiring.

1421 Wanaka to Aspiring

1421 Wanaka to Aspiring

Everywhere there are waterfalls of every description, including these gossamer living threads of water wisping down a high green rock wall next to the lake.

1485 Living Thread

1485 Living Thread

Turning up the Young River at Makarora to Gillespie Pass into Siberia Valley and over icebergs in Lake Crucible, we followed the Wilkin River. As with our travels and flights in the glacial areas of North America we wondered aloud many times during the flight, what this area must have looked like before global warming.

1503 Glacier Shadows

1503 Glacier Shadows

From the bare carved rock not yet covered with vegetation, you can see the “shadows” of glaciers that have recently melted. We felt all the more fortunate to see what remains, with the flying probably made easier by the warmer weather.

1516 Carved Crevice

1516 Carved Crevice

Did I mention that the waterfalls are innumerable and diverse? Check out this magnificent pair.

1542 Tumbling Falls

1542 Tumbling Falls

Even though it’s “only” 8,340′ above sea level, Mount Pollux looks much like the higher Canadian and U.S. Rockies. The tall glacial waterfall into Lake Lucidus is breathtaking.

1597 Mt.Pollux & Lk.Lucidus

1597 Mt.Pollux & Lk.Lucidus

From Mt. Pollux across Rabbit Pass and West of Mt Aspiring we passed many iconic peaks of the “Southern Alps” that I’ve not yet been able to name definitively, apparently due to not recording a track in the free Android Avare aviation app. But thanks to help emailed from Gabrielle I’ll eventually figure most of them out using gMaps and NZ topo. Suffice it so say they are somewhat similar, different, innumerable, and few less striking than this.

1665 Clouded Majesty

1665 Clouded Majesty

The high clouds dimming this pic made it easier for my camera to capture the gradations between dark stone and brilliant snow, and reduced winds to make it a smooth ride. Yet there was enough breeze in some of the canyons to tickle the towering waterfalls.

1682 Wafted Waterfalls

1682 Wafted Waterfalls

When we finished gorging on mountains and glaciers to find our way through the broken clouds down to Big Bay, a little yellow plane (Piper Cub?) was about to take off from the isolated beach. Can you make it out right at the bottom-right corner?

1848 Big Bay "Airport"

1848 Big Bay “Airport”

Amazing as this brief flight had been already, we were about to begin the second of three main parts. In case you’re following along on maps (and especially if you can use our Contact Form here to name some features), here’s an approximate map of Gabrielle’s typical route.

Gabriella Map, Part 1

Gabrielle Map, Part 1

As you’ll note, our route differed as we kept well clear of clouds, including the fact we reached the coast at Big Bay rather than Martin’s Bay just to the South. Still ahead in Part 2 of this second flight of an enchanted day, is our flight along the coast down to the mouth of Milford Sound! 😀

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