St. Patricks Day on a Glacier!!!

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Saturday, March 18, 2006

Franz Joseph - we've arrived!

Happy birthday mom! Hope you had lots of green beer to celebrate!

Jeffrey pulled into Franz Joseph on St. Patrick's Day. It was a rather dreary, grey afternoon here in this famous glacier town. We were hoping to take advantage of a contact we have here and hop aboard a helicopter for an aerial view of the glaciers.

All stores and tourist stops were closed so we decided to head out to a pub for St. Patricks Day and have a drink or two to celebrate mom's birthday. We had a great time!

We woke nice and early the next morning in the hopes that we might get the chance for the helicopter ride. Unfortunately it was far too miserable a day for any flights to go up. Visibility was basically zero, and we would have to keep checking in.

To fill our time during the awful weather, we first found ourselves a hostel. It ended up that we found one that was willing to trade free accomodation for 2 hours of cleaning. Being as it was such fine weather, and we were waiting around anyways, this agreement worked extremely well for us. We helped make beds, clean bathrooms, and do laundry that morning, and in return, we each had a bed to sleep in, movies to watch, warm showers and a full kitchen at our disposal. (We just hope Jeffrey doesn't find out!)

As the day drew on, so did the rain. We found ourselves infront of a computer for a large chunk of the day, which was actually great as we had lots to catch up on!

We went to sleep in real beds that night with high hopes of a morning of blue skies. We awoke the next morning (perhaps a little confused as to how to get out of bed without opening a passenger door) and quickly looked out the window. Clouds, clouds and more clouds. It appeared that it was going to be another hazy, bad day.

We headed to the Heli-Hike offices anyways, just in case they were flying later that day. The office was a zoo and it wasn't even 8:00am yet. If they were flying today, it looked like there may not be room for us and our free ride.

We ended up hanging around the office for nearly an hour when we were suddenly beckoned forward and rushed to join two seperate groups going up immediately. So it ends up that I was in one helipcopter and Trevor was in another. We were so thrilled to be able to get a flight over the glaciers and it all happened so quickly to get us out there, that we didn't even say goodbye - just went running out of the office to the helicopter.

How do we begin to describe this helicopter ride?

From far above, we were able to see both the Franz Joseph and the Fox glaciers. They looked like two mighty rivers of ice tumbling down the valley towards the sea. Not only did we fly over the glacier, but we also flew past Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman, and even landed in the head of the glacier snow fields.

Neil, you'll like this. This part of New Zealand was the beacon scene from The Lord Of the Rings when brightly lit beacons shone from hilltop to mountain peak and beyond. We were there!

This is the first time we have seen snow since it melted away in Canada in the Spring of 2005!!!

The decent was incredible. We hovered down the valley of the glacier, the pilot tilting the helicopter from side to side, allowing us to see everything from so many angles. As for descriptions...just look at the pictures. We have no words.

Hugs and Love,
Dana and Trevor
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