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.

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! 😀

2017/03/21

Up Again At Last!

Excited as I was last week to begin posting pix of our two amazing NZ South Island flights in a single day, it was delayed by resolving a minor avionics issue with Tripp. So here are my fave pix from the first of those two flights. You may recall our drive to the Alexandra airport on a mesa in the previous post. Well the next day we scored a free short ride with a generous expert pilot in their club!

0964 Clyde Perspective

0964 Clyde Perspective

Just a couple of minutes after liftoff we had this glorious view up the valley to Clyde next to the dam and to snow-capped peaks beyond. Driving and hiking in the area had been interesting, beautiful and fun of course. But seeing it all now from this perspective made our aviator hearts soar with delight! Soon we passed over the red roof of our B&B on the cliff above the river.

0967 Clyde B&B

0967 Clyde B&B

In just a few more minutes we got this new view up the gorge to Cromwell.

1020 Cromwell & Beyond

1020 Cromwell & Beyond

We just Love the spectacular views and perspective provided by flying in small planes (G.A.), and how many different delights like this you can enjoy in just a few minutes aloft. About ten minutes after takeoff we saw these beautiful jagged peaks above Queenstown to the West, as we turned back South toward summery Alexandra.

1033 Distant Snowy Peaks

1033 Distant Snowy Peaks

Along the gorge on the way back I got a new view of the many ancient rocks, far beyond what we’d glimpsed on the bus ride from Dunedin. This outcrop had a natural stone bowl sheltering a bog at the base.

1098 Stories in Stone

1098 Stories in Stone

As you might guess from my rock obsession, I snapped far too many pix like this. But here’s just one more I really like, with magical shapes that shifted before our eyes as we drifted past with a Tolkien dragon’s eye view of this terrain ideally cast for scenes in Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films.

1170 Rune Stones

1170 Rune Stones

As we approached Alexandra to turn back again to overfly the airport before turning yet again to land, we saw it anew. You can’t really make them out in this pic, but we could see the old bridge abutments beyond the new bridge. Off to the left a little we could see the footbridge we’d walked with the giant clock on the hill above, now looking so small as to be nearly invisible in this pic.

1226 Alexandra Anew

1226 Alexandra Anew

Thrilling as it is to see newly familiar places from above, we were about to fly over territory completely new to us. Too much excitement for one day? Not at all, but maybe too many pix from that flight for our next post?

For this incredible half an hour aloft, we dearly thank Mike and the wonderful group that is the Central Otago Flying Club. I hope they’re reading this, because true to the open spirit of the international aviation community we dearly hope they’ll visit so we can return the favor flying them around Santa Barbara.

2017/03/05

Delightful Dunedin

Again celebrating our decision to fly rather than drive, the hop from Christchurch to Dunedin in a smaller airliner flying lower gave us great vistas.

120519 Distant Mt. Cook

120519 Distant Mt. Cook

Too bad cameras don’t capture the beauty we enjoyed, but it was better as we gradually descended.

122946 Hills to Mountains

122946 Hills to Mountains

Soon the hills gave way to flatland, where we saw this TXT message.

123042 TXT to Aircraft

123042 TXT to Aircraft

We took a leisurely and sociable shuttle van to town. The driver and other passenger even let me stop at the small airport on the way to town, but alas no contact with any GA flight prospects. After hotel check-in we set out to explore the city, and were immediately captivated by the many murals.

152406 Consumption Art

152406 Consumption Art

Thinking of food, we checked out the elite Bacchus but they weren’t open so we returned down the hypnotic stairway to snack and stroll instead.

162228 Wooden Stair

162228 Wooden Stair

Māori culture is embraced in New Zealand, as with this bi-lingual sign on a university building.

72148 To Where Wanna To Go

72148 To Where Wanna To Go

My brain refused to pronounce it correctly, perhaps because Dunedin is a city we so wanted to go. The streets are lively, colorful, friendly and fun.

123316 Street Colors

123316 Street Colors

We loved having two nights here that gave us three different days to explore, mostly on foot. In addition to several museums we haunted, a highlight was taking in lots of street art, sculpture, and murals.

124342 Flying To Pieces

124342 Flying To Pieces

Art has an effect on us. As we strolled, art even appeared suddenly at the end of blind alleys.

124447 Lost Art

124447 Lost Art

Before long we were seeing art everywhere, including this wall in earthquake country with a relevant sign.

124922 Fair Warning

124922 Fair Warning

Many of the murals probably have a logical story, but I kinda hope not because they can readily evoke responses far beyond logic and language.

123417 Enigma

123417 Enigma

As you can begin to see from these mercifully “few” examples, our wander took us far into the realm of the muse, where everything is art.

124159 Performance Art

124159 Performance Art

Even everyday directional signs became somewhat metaphoric.

125244 Hope Lies Beneath

125244 Hope Lies Beneath

If you’re not already overwhelmed by all this, here’s a more mundane pic from a different day. The old train station is beautiful inside and out, making it popular with visitors including art-dazed Yanks. 🙂

163834 Train Station

163834 Train Station

One last highlight is this view that enhanced a great and inexpensive meal just a short, scenic and immersive city bus ride up at the Luna Cafe.

133208 Luna Cafe

133208 Luna Cafe

We barely scratched the surface, adding to our itch for a return trip.

2017/02/27

Christchurch Impressions

Several people suggested we skip or even avoid Christchurch on this trip, yet we felt drawn to spend a night there. So after our blissful small plane ride out of Ardmore, we shuffled back into a jet for the first time since the Sydney jaunt. Takeoff provided yet another perspective on the Auckland area, climbing across the bay toward the West coast.

115444 Jet Again

115444 Jet Again

With all the clouds I thought we might not see much, but happily enjoyed many scenic views through broken clouds. Especially over the South Island, like this glimpse of alpine Lake Tennyson about 20 miles North of Hammer Springs.

123834 Lake Tennyson

123834 Lake Tennyson

Soon we were descending over the great turquoise Waimakariri River with Christchurch Int’l (CHC) just below that red tip of our jet fairing at the upper-left.

125242 Waimakariri River

125242 Waimakariri River

The city sprawled below us on the wide plain as our jet turned “base” toward the airport, giving a sense of the setting next to the East coast with snow-capped peaks beyond.

125420 CHC Approach

125420 CHC Approach

After the familiar process of getting to the city center and checked into our hotel, we set out to explore. There seemed to be lots of public art, more graffiti than we’d seen elsewhere in New Zealand, and it was shocking to see so much destruction from the quakes.

173937 Crushed Cathedral

173937 Crushed Cathedral

Behind a fence stood the remains of this large cathedral being heroically rebuilt. Getting closer and walking to the right we could see inside.

174030 Restoring from Rubble

174030 Restoring from Rubble

From the many damaged buildings still standing, most in varying stages of repair, we got hints of the quakes’ power. From all the bare empty large lots among the few high buildings, we got a sense of how different Christchurch looks to locals. From all the construction cranes we could see how many new (and highly quake-resistant) buildings were going into some of those empty lots.

174052 New Construction

174052 New Construction

A few blocks away we found much more public art, and refuge from the rubble, at placid Victoria Square along the relaxing Avon River.

175055 Avon River Relaxation

175055 Avon River Relaxation

Back on the street, we paused to watch this couple practicing their moves at the Dance O Mat.

182951 Dancing in the Streets

182951 Dancing in the Streets

All the destruction seemed to have brought out creativity everywhere and a palpable mix of hope, fear, courage, despair, and some sort of somber resolve among the survivors, and splashed in bright colors on the surviving buildings.

184308 Survivors

184308 Survivors

The streets close around our hotel were colorful and inviting, yet felt strangely quiet as if awaiting more recovery to blossom into something new arising from a great little city.

185135 Quietly Waiting

185135 Quietly Waiting

We were very glad to have visited, yet also glad to spend only a night of our precious time there. Plus we celebrated having decided to fly rather than stick with our plan to drive between cities. It gave us views like this taking off the next day.

20114524 Sprawling Christchurch

20114524 Sprawling Christchurch

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