John & Anne Wiley

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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