17.02.2012 - 18.02.2012
17 - 18 Feb
Tantalising glimpses of Mount Cook this morning and after a hearty breakfast at the cafe (this is our only accommodation without breakfast), we set off on a 1.5 hour walk (or so I thought). Instead, we spent the day trekking through rainforest to a number of Fox Glacier viewpoints, one of which was close to the terminal face of the glacier. Views were excellent - the sheer size visible by watching the guided parties as dots walking up the glacier field, and we returned to enjoy a drink in the local 'saloon'. We'd have liked a helicopter trip to view the glacier and Mt Cook summit but the extensive cloud cover meant we'd missed our chance.
Yet more tantalising glimpses of Mount Cook this morning but cloud looks more widespread than yesterday morning. We started packing before the 5 hour drive to Queenstown when we noticed that more of the snowy mountain tops were visible. Could this be a last minute chance of a heli trip? One quick call from our motel manager & we were booked on the 10 am flight. And what a flight. Along with 4 other passengers, our pilot Sam took us straight up into clear the blue sky to the top of the Franz Josef Glacier for a landing and 10 minute frolic on the ice, then on to fly around the summit of Mts Cook & Tasman and down the full length of Fox Glacier before landing. And, after unsuccessfully trying to persuade the next flight's waiting passengers that it was a waste of money and they should give us their tickets, we finally left for Queenstown. But what a start to the day! A truly unforgettable experience, especially after having written off the idea the day before.