# Come Fly With Me...#
Trip Start Nov 09, 2011
71Trip End Ongoing
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We drive on to the Mount Cook lookout on Lake Pukaki described in one of our books as 'the best view in New Zealand'. We arrive shortly after midday and the view to be honest is nothing spectacular
We turn off heading towards it. The road follows the lake as we head towards the source of its water. Mount Cook continues to play hide and seek with us as we twist and turn along the road. Each time it reveals itself larger than the time before. Annie says this is the first time she has seen a mountain, let alone one so resplendent, covered with snow, even though this is mid summer. As we reach the head of the lake there is another carpark / information centre. We stop to check out the best way forward. The large building also houses a cafe and is the base for one of the scenic helicopter services.
The ground crew direct Annie into the front next to the pilot and I resign myself to sitting in the back. But no as I approach I too am directed to sit up front next to Annie. Behind us the other 4 passengers sit. We soon lift off, slowly at first. We climb above the scree estuary at the head of the lake and head up the valley to climb slowly up the side of Mount Cook. The helicopter is more or less a gall bubble - we are able to look out ahead, to the side, above and below us. It feels as if we could put out our hands and touch the rock face and snow that lies all around us.
In places there have clearly been avalanches as the snow is almost vertical hanging above a sheer rock face below. In each gulley snow covered glaciers stretch out below us
We climb gingerly down from the helicopter onto the snow and ice the lies everywhere around us. All the time the rotors of the helicopter continue to turn. The clouds seem to hang earily around the surrounding mountains that enclose the glacier valley. They look as though they will envelope us any minute, but somehow they just hang there a stones throw away. We all walk around and take photos of the scene. Nothing can quite prepare you for this. After about 10 minutes the pilot beckons us back on board. We had been led to believe that we would swap to the back for the return journey, but to our surprise and relief we are once again up front with the pilot. The other two couples apparantly a little too large for the cramped front seats
Slowly we lift off from the snow and move slowly back down the glacier valley towards the upper reaches of Mount Cook. The valley is increasingly cloudy ahead of us so the pilot informs us we will return the same way. We circle and climb up the side of Mount Cook, over the top of the ridge and then begin our slow descent back down the valley to our base 15' away. When we finally come to rest at the foot of the mountain we look back at the awesome sight all around us. Our faces one huge smile from ear to ear. The most awesome experience of our lives, and one that we had not planned on, though had considered it.
We drove back to the car park at the end of the lake, had a meal and stayed their for the night. Enjoying for ourselves New Zealand's best view. We had experienced it in every way possible. What an incredible, amazing, awesome day.
(Annie..this was an incredible day...I have never seen anything so amazing, beautiful, natural, powerful,interesting and magical in my life.. i will always remember this day..from start to finish mount cook beckoned us..the weather was superb..and they had two seats to fill on the helicopter when we arrived...the right place right time again...and to go back to the lake car park and just stare at the mountain knowing earlier we were standing on it... the pictures will not show the awesomeness but i willl try.. )
We awoke the following morning with the hills, mountains and snow no where to be seen. We remembered someone yesterday saying that the view was the best they had seen for some years, and we wondered whether todays visitors would get even a taste of what we had seen and experienced, or would it choose to hide itself from everyone.
We have indeed been very lucky. A day like no other....