Well, having been back for almost 2 months we have decided that we really should get the blog updated and finished! The plan is to add a bit each week until it finally brings us back home - we'll see if that works!
Being home isn't too bad, it's been lovely catching up with friends and family and Glasgow in the springtime is a great place to be. We've started to explore our local surroundings more too and are beginning to appreciate what a beautiful country Scotland is. Anyway, shan't bore you with details of that... I think we left you on a bit of a cliff hanger as we were about to go up in a helicopter at Fox Glacier.... I'll let Andy fill you in!
We went to bed the night before our big trip and it really was touch and go as to whether we would be going up in the heli-hike at all as the previous two days' trips had been cancelled due to bad visibility, so when we awoke to see blue skies we were very chuffed. We met up with our guides and our fellow heli-hikers and got our safety training and were told what to do and what not to do while in the helicopter and on the glacier once we landed. I missed most of this as I was too excited just staring out the window at the helicopter wondering if they would let me drive?
We were in the last group to take off so we got to see the first copter loads take off from about 30 feet away. This just added to my excitment. Once it was our turn we both got in the back seat and strapped in with our headphones on. Just before take off I decided to get something out of my bag and bent down to rummage and when I was back upright again we were airborne; it was so smooth I didnt even know we had taken off.
The trip up the glacier only lasted about 5 minutes but it was amazing. We swooped from one side to the other and went to the top of the glacier, which is inaccesible by foot. All the time the pilot swung the aircraft around to give us great views of the features and sculptures that made up the landscape. This was definitley a big highlight of the trip, even if I didnt get to help by driving.
Once on the ice we donned our crampons and started our trek. We slid through ice caves, soaking our bums in the process, leapt (I use this term loosely) across crevasses, and scrambled up a few ice walls. We spent about an hour on the glacier in total and got to within a kilometre of the top. Our guide explained that the glacier is always changing with features melting and new ones being created so we were lucky to see the featues that we did. The range and depth of blue was a surprise too and we have a few cool photos of us in an ice cave, with a unreal blue background. At the end of our trek the copter came back up for us to take us back down to base camp. The timing was perfect as the the weather had started closing in and it was prety freezing.
After a hearty soup to warm us up we got on the road again and started driving for Lake Wanaka. This was a great drive because, after the last few days of miserable weather ,it suddenly started getting sunny and by the time we arrived at our cool campsite overlooking the lake we were in shorts and t-shirts again.
Lake Wanaka is a great wee town that is set on the banks of a big Lake called Lake Wanaka, clever that eh. It was probably our fave town in all of New Zealand, very tranquil, incredible scenery and not to over-run with tourism. We spent the first day just finding our feet and checking it out. The next day we got up early and climbed Mount Iron to get stunning views over all the lake. We met a nice couple from London there too and had a natter, giving each other tips on where we'd been.
That afternoon we hired some bikes, not tandems this time, and went for a cycle around the lake, stopping here and there to take in the views or throw stones in the water. As we did our return journey we stumbled across a wedding that was taking place on the lakeside - what a beautiful place to get married. By the time we had returned we were, for the first time in our entire trip, thinking that maybe we could actually live here is as it was such a nice place. We gave the bikes back, had some amazingly huge ice creams (and we'd only asked for small!!) and then bumped into some friends we'd met in Rio and spent the rest of the evening in the pub catching up on their stories and adventures and swapping tales of travel through South America. We also got recognised by one of the tribe members from our Maori evening who shouted out, "all right Chief"!
We left the next day heading for Queenstown, the adventure sports capital of the world, and wondered ,with trepidation, what crazy activites we might end up doing.
Will update you with our Queenstown adventures next week.....
V & A Xx