John & Anne Wiley

2017/04/15

Peaks & Lakes

Many majestic views of lakes and peaks awaited on the last leg of the last GA flight of our NZ adventure. Strolling the serene ramp at TEU we had no idea that so much delight was minutes away. [Note: click here to read in sequence from the start of this “Over Under” Big Adventure]

2231 TEU to Mountains

2231 TEU to Mountains

Soon after takeoff we turned away from Lake Manapouri for a quick closer look at tiny Lake Henry and Te Anau on the shore of massive Lake Te Anau.

2256 Te Anau

2256 Te Anau

Climbing back toward Wanaka, we saw this silhouette of a person’s head facing left. It’s comical that amid so much spectacular beauty, this shape formed by the North end of South Mavora Lake stood out somehow.

2268 Cartoon Shape

2268 Cartoon Shape

Maybe the human spirit tends toward adaptation to beauty when overwhelmed by such sustained exposure to it. Still, this view along the Von River to Lake Wakatipu found us in silent enjoyment.

2288 Von River

2288 Von River

The rapids next to the lake are thrilling from the air, especially when they evoke the experience of whitewater sports down in that gorge.

2301 Rapids

2301 Rapids

As we continued out onto the bend in Lake Wakatipu, at the North end Glenorchy sheltered among the towering mountains.

2327 Distant Glenorchy

2327 Distant Glenorchy

Across the lake toward the East, colorful scenery continued the amazement that flooded our senses.

2341 Across the Bend

2341 Across the Bend

All along the lake as in every moment of every GA flight, our souls overflowed with the beauty of this land. Of course we have many more pix than can be shared, so how are these few chosen? Why choose this one of rapids among many along our mountainous route up Rees River and Invincible Creek and back East toward Wanaka?

2353 Inexplicable Rapids

2353 Inexplicable Rapids

As if the many stunning peaks like Mt. Aspiring we’d already visited weren’t enough, the grizzled heads of these peaks added to our overwhelm.

2362 Grizzled Peaks

2362 Grizzled Peaks

As always, the pix we share here aren’t just a small fraction of our total but also a tiny slice of the view we swam in. Here’s a larger one.

2387 Bigger Slice

2387 Bigger Slice

Now a few more pix and fewer of the words that pale and fail.

2412 More Peaks 1

2412 Peaks Aplenty 1

2431 Peaks Aplenty 2

2431 Peaks Aplenty 2

2442 Peaks Aplenty 3

2442 Peaks Aplenty 3

Like the U.S. and Canadian Rockies, each of the peaks in this vast expanse of mountains majesty kindles a deep emotional response in the human heart.

Another deep breath comes as we descend back into the green of New Zealand.

2545 Down Into Green

2545 Down Into Green

Even minutes from the end of this amazing flight, Glendhu Bay offered yet another stunning vista.

2571 Glendhu Bay

2571 Glendhu Bay

Continuing our descent across the South end of Lake Wanaka the shallows were reminiscent of our Bahamas flights.

2578 Colorful Shallows

2578 Colorful Shallows

But now Wanaka sprawled toward the airport where we’d begin the scenic drive to Queenstown for yet more memorable moments in this thrill-packed day.

2587 Wanaka Approach

2587 Wanaka Approach

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2017/04/07

Quill to Manapouri

The reason we didn’t follow the highway straight up from Milford, was to turn right and fly over Lake Ada.

2027 Lk.Ada up Arthur

2027 Lake Ada up Arthur River

Along that deep canyon we passed raging rapids on the river and many other beautiful scenes, and moments later a tall waterfall appeared in the blue misty distance.

2083 Track to Falls

2083 Track to Falls

The famous Milford Track hiking trail was below us as canyons opened on both sides revealing higher features hidden high above the Arthur River along our path. Like this view up Mackay Creek past the lake to the jagged peak of Mt. Danger.

2098 Mackay to Danger

2098 Mackay to Danger

It was soon clear why our local pilot had come this way, as we approached spectacular Sutherland Falls.

2128 Sutherland Falls

2128 Sutherland Falls

It’s so magnificent we flew in a wide circle to pass it again even closer, where we got this zoom shot of that upper landing where it pounds to mist on the rock outcrop.

2170 Hidden Rainbow

2170 Hidden Rainbow

Even in this dimmed light below thick high clouds, there was a hint of the rainbow that must be radiant on clear days. Then turning East along the Clinton River we saw the Flower Falls at Iceberg Lake in the hazy distance.

2175 Iceberg & Flower

2175 Iceberg & Flower

But our real destination on this easterly path was the larger Lake Erskine higher among the snowy Summer peaks.

2192 Lake Erskine

2192 Lake Erskine

It’s a beautiful alpine lake that begs to be visited by float plane. But for us the main attraction there is Bowmar Falls cascading into the long canyon formed by Neale Burn. This short piece of the towering falls gives an impression of how amazing it is.

2194 Bowmar Falls

2194 Bowmar Falls

Then we turned South along Lake Te Anau descending until it emptied into this glimpse of Horseshoe Bend in the clear colorful waters of Waiku River.

2218 Waiku River

2218 Waiku River

Moments later we got a close look at the colors and shapes of this intricate marsh along Home Creek.

2223 Marsh Miracle

2223 Marsh Miracle

Having yielded the Pilot In Command role to the various New Zealand aviators we’d flown with on this adventure, I decided on a whim it would be fun to take the controls for this landing. Our esteemed aviatrix had been asking if I’d like to do that all along this flight but my focus was sightseeing and pix, so she was surprised when I asked. When I greased it she exclaimed aloud, “Woah!!”

2239 View from TEU

2239 View from TEU

After taxi back to parking she explained that most visiting pilots who don’t hoard the controls often have trouble landing smoothly, so she’d assumed I lack skill and experience. I didn’t think much of it until Anne joined her in making such a fuss. 🙂

As we took a break and strolled the ramp at Te Anau Airport (TEU) two miles North of Manapouri on Hwy.95, I breathed in this pause. So many incredible experiences already on this “Over Under” adventure. In just this one unforgettable day we’d relished so much of the breathtaking “Hobbit” landscape, and memorable Queenstown still awaited before dark. Yet a somber tinge of sadness touched me, as I could feel it all winding toward our departure. But soon we were back in the air, and as you’d expect I have pix to share in the next post.

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