The weather didn't clear at Mount Cook so after hanging round waiting for 2 hours we moved on to Wanaka. Blue skies so no problem surely? A trip to look at Mt. Aspiring - New Zealand's Matterhorn - would do nicely. The very helpful staff at the visitor centre (far too helpful if you were stood in the queue for ages whilst they helped someone organise getting their arse wiped in Auckland in 3 weeks time.) 'phoned around several companies only to be told that they had just stopped flying as the weather was 'closing in'! What is the matter with these helicopter pilots? It's only a bit of cloud! So it's obviously not meant to happen is it?
We stop overnight at Wanaka and drink the most expensive beer ever. $17NZ for 2 bottles! And it's only brewed up the road at the airport. (That's why the helicopters don't fly. They can make more money brewing beer) Next day we drive through the rain to Fox Glacier (more in another blog). The following day - Thursday by now - the weather first thing in the morning looks fine. Blue skies etc. Surely now is my chance?
Ah no. That bloody cloud again. Look this is the West Coast of New Zealand. One of the wettest places in the world. There's always cloud! How do these guys ever make any money? Surely helicopters can fly in a bit of cloud? They fly all year to the oil rigs in the North Sea and when have you ever seen a cloudless day there?
And all the time Kate is being very patient, sitting waiting. How long can I spin this out? Spanish homework comes to the rescue and we agree I'll book on a flight at 10.30 and if that doesn't go I'll finally admit defeat.
10.15 comes and I go up to the desk. They take my money. But I'm not fooled - they did that at Mount Cook. 10.25 we get on the minibus and drive to the airfield. But they're just stringing me along aren't they? I'm not actually going to get into that helicopter.
But it looks as if I am! Then up and away and we're flying through the cloud up onto the top of the Fox Glacier. A quick landing on the snow then it's back down - with a few swoops and twists thrown in - and 20 minutes later I'm back on the ground, a few hundred dollars poorer.
And was it worth it? You bet! (Kate might beg to differ.)