Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps


a short walk
Wayne McMillan next to the Pegasus of the Mount Cook Ski Planes that has just landed in the heights of the Southern Alps.
Zigzag Mist
Mist fills a gorge in the Southern Alps on New Zealand's South Island.
Lake Pukaki-Southern Alps-New Zealand
The Great Southern Alps
Peaks overlooking the Southern Alps, around Aoraki Mount Cook.
To Command
Wayne, one of the Mount Cook Ski Planes pilots in the cockpit of his Pegasus.
a fearless refuge
A cabin erected almost balanced on a cliff below Aoraki Mount Cook.
Tasman ice
The rugged top of the Tasman glacier, right in the Southern Alps.
walk in the heights
Passengers on a Mount Cook Ski Plane on a snowy plateau in the vicinity of Aoraki Mount Cook.
Southern Alps Shades
New Zealand's Highway 8 runs along the shores of Lake Pukaki, against the backdrop of the Southern Alps.
rock vs snow
Semi-snow covered cliffs in a canyon below Aoraki Mount Cook.
Tasman Glacier below
Mount Cook Ski Planes plane flies over the top of the Tasman Glacier.
Altitude poses
Mount Cook Ski Planes passenger couple are photographed on the mountain above the Tasman Glacier.
The Great New Zealand Glacier
the curving ice river from the Tasman Glacier, the longest glacier in New Zealand.
track in sight
Mount Cook Ski Planes Ski Planes about to land on the Mount Cook runway.
Tasman Lake
Large lake formed by the melting of the Tasman glacier, enlarged by the Southern Hemisphere summer.
New Zealand Ceiling
The sharp summit of Aoraki Mount Cook, the highest mountain in the Southern Alps and New Zealand.
In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.

On the other end of the line, in the fashion of good managers, Richard Royds sounds as diplomatic as he is pragmatic. “Are you in Twizel? Great! It's close enough. Come walking over here. You may have to wait a while but I should get you something soon.”

We had recently added NZ$250 to a still short list of speeding tickets in the downunder. We make an effort not to go overboard in haste.

After Flying Low, Over the Southern Alps

Still, after 25 minutes, we parked in front of the Mount Cook Ski Planes offices at Mount Cook Airport. Better than promised, with 25 more losers, we are boarding the Pilatus Porter PC6 from Mount Cook Ski Planes.

In a taxi, Wayne, the pilot in charge of the flight, gives us and two Asian couples – one Indian, the other Japanese – a brief safety briefing. Then, against the wind, as the rules dictate, we soar above the frigid waters of Lake Tasman.

Lake formed by the Tasman Glacier, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Large lake formed by the melting of the Tasman glacier, enlarged by the Southern Hemisphere summer.

As we ascend, Roaring Forties concentrated down the long canyon onward slam into the aircraft and cause passengers to cling more tightly to the front seats.

Wayne remains undaunted and unruffled: “It's okay, don't worry. I have been working this route for a long time, for too long, I dare say.

This wind is here almost always. If planes don't let me down, I won't let them down either.” secures while retouching the stick and adjusting knobs and knobs. “Do you know what bothers me? This heat.

Ski plane over Tasman Glacier, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Mount Cook Ski Planes plane flies over the top of the Tasman Glacier.

They came at the right time. Some 20 years ago, ice occupied a large part of what is now a lake, down there. If these summers continue like this, it won't be long, only the top will remain, where we will land.”

A Tasman Glacier Flight Above, Aimed at Aoraki Mount Cook

Pilatus Porter penetrates an unexpected cloudiness but breaks free in three stages. In an already completely clear sky, we lost the coziness of the valley and approached the most imposing peaks and fjords in the Southern Alps, Tasman, Dampier, then Teichelmann.

Mist, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Mist fills a gorge in the Southern Alps on New Zealand's South Island.

Shortly after, we also identified the aoraki Mount Cook slightly prominent due to its higher altitude and the prism shape of the summit, at that time sheltered by a curious lenticular cloud.

Lenticular Hat, Mount Cook, New Zealand

Summit of Aoraki Mount Cook accompanied by a lenticular cloud.

We went around New Zealand's Queen Mountain twice. Repetition allows us to admire the sumptuousness of the Southern Alps and, to the west, the wild coastline of the Tasman Sea, much more visible than we ever thought possible, considering the altitude at which we flew.

The initial purpose of the flight was fulfilled. Wayne points again to the ice bed of the Tasman Glacier that we flew over to the formation zone.

There, he reverses the direction of flight once more, lowers the ski-plane and lands on surface snow. Against the slope and friction, the plane does not take long to come to a standstill.

Pilot Wayne McMillan and Mount Cook Ski planes, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Wayne McMillan next to the Pegasus of the Mount Cook Ski Planes that has just landed in the heights of the Southern Alps.

Wayne takes advantage of the silence and announces with a heavy kiwi accent: “Here are the great New Zealand sets. Have fun". We were, on a majestic mountain glacier, just a few hundred meters above the peaks that countless climbers had aspired to climb.

Revolutionary Innovation Now at the Service of Mount Cook Ski Planes

A few decades ago, this easy access to the top of the mountain range also proved to be a huge achievement. The person responsible was the founder of Monte Cook Ski Planes, the company that had granted us the privilege of adventure.

In 1953, Harry Wigley, a former New Zealand Air Force pilot, was already taking scenic flights around Aoraki Mount Cook and over the glaciers.

Around that time, he realized the need for a retractable ski system that would allow planes to take off from normal runways and land on snow.

Wayne, Mount Cook Ski Planes Pilot, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Wayne Mc Millan, one of the Mount Cook Ski Planes pilots in the cockpit of his Pegasus.

Fixed skis already existed but an international investigation revealed that the retractable system had not yet been developed.

On the other hand, stationary skis could only be used part of the New Zealand winter, in seasons when the Monte Cook airfield had its runway covered with snow.

Wigley didn't conform. He invested hundreds of hours in creating a wheel that would stand out through the ski during take-off and landing on asphalt.

And a way for the ski to descend during the flight to allow landings on the high snowfields of the Tasman Glacier.

Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand

Passengers on a Mount Cook Ski Plane on a snowy plateau in the vicinity of Aoraki Mount Cook.

On September 22, 1955, Harry Wigley landed there the first ski plane – an Auster – equipped with the new system.

One of the most famous passengers to benefit from it was Sir Edmund Hillary who, seven years earlier, had conquered his beloved New Zealand roof, but nevertheless failed to visit.

Later, the concept and design were perfected and the skis were given plastic bases and hydraulically operated.

The introduction of a more powerful aircraft, the Cessna 180 allowed Mount Cook Ski Planes to operate year round and carry more fortunate passengers like us.

The Landing High Above the Tasman Glacier

The Indian couple is the first to leave. They take a few steps and, in a cold but romantic micro-climate, possibly on a honeymoon, they embrace. Japanese youths move away towards lush rock shapes and have themselves photographed in comic and eccentric poses.

Couple next to ski plane, Southern Alps, New Zealand

Couple is photographed by the ski plane of Mount Cook Ski Planes, above the Tasman Glacier.

We started to climb the ice field with the aim of peeking again beyond the highest edge of the mountain range.

Wayne lives his routine and little strays from the Pilate Porter.

He tells us we wouldn't have time for that, so we've given up on the little expedition.

Instead, we let ourselves be dazzled by the white grandeur of the scenery and the insignificance to which the colored aircraft were subject.

Tasman Glacier, Southern Alps, New Zealand

the curving ice river from the Tasman Glacier, the longest glacier in New Zealand.

Return to Starting Point, via the same route as the Tasman Glacier

Around it, at an altitude of 3.000 meters, stretched the vast base of the largest ice river in Oceania, 27 km long, 4 km wide and no less impressive 600 meters thick.

The day was drawing to a close and the smudge of light that hit the valley was diminishing to the eye like the tenuous heat that had hitherto caressed the passengers.

Wayne checks his watch and gives instructions to return to the plane. We glide over skis and snow once again with surprising smoothness and return to the heights delimited by the valley.

Ten minutes later, we're running on the aerodrome's abrasive tarmac.

Landing view from cockpit, Southern Alps, New Zealand.

Mount Cook Ski Planes Ski Planes about to land on the Mount Cook runway.

The dynamic landing device was working perfectly again.

Thus, we complete another part of the feat that Harry Wigley insisted on accomplishing.

Nelson to Wharariki, Abel Tasman NP, New Zealand

The Maori coastline on which Europeans landed

Abel Janszoon Tasman explored more of the newly mapped and mythical "Terra australis" when a mistake soured the contact with natives of an unknown island. The episode inaugurated the colonial history of the New Zealand. Today, both the divine coast on which the episode took place and the surrounding seas evoke the Dutch navigator.
Annapurna Circuit: 1th - Pokhara a Chame, Nepal,

Finally, on the way

After several days of preparation in Pokhara, we left towards the Himalayas. The walking route only starts in Chame, at 2670 meters of altitude, with the snowy peaks of the Annapurna mountain range already in sight. Until then, we complete a painful but necessary road preamble to its subtropical base.
Wanaka, New Zealand

The Antipodes Great Outdoors

If New Zealand is known for its tranquility and intimacy with Nature, Wanaka exceeds any imagination. Located in an idyllic setting between the homonymous lake and the mystic Mount Aspiring, it became a place of worship. Many kiwis aspire to change their lives there.
North Island, New Zealand

Journey along the Path of Maority

New Zealand is one of the countries where the descendants of settlers and natives most respect each other. As we explored its northern island, we became aware of the interethnic maturation of this very old nation. Commonwealth and Maori and Polynesia.
Banks Peninsula, New Zealand

The Divine Earth Shard of the Banks Peninsula

Seen from the air, the most obvious bulge on the South Island's east coast appears to have imploded again and again. Volcanic but verdant and bucolic, the Banks Peninsula confines in its almost cogwheel geomorphology the essence of the ever enviable New Zealand life.
Mount Denali, Alaska

The Sacred Ceiling of North America

The Athabascan Indians called him Denali, or the Great, and they revered his haughtiness. This stunning mountain has aroused the greed of climbers and a long succession of record-breaking climbs.
napier, New Zealand

Back to the 30s - Calhambeque Tour

In a city rebuilt in Art Deco and with an atmosphere of the "crazy years" and beyond, the adequate means of transportation are the elegant classic automobiles of that era. In Napier, they are everywhere.

Altitude Sickness: the Grievances of Getting Mountain Sick

When traveling, it happens that we find ourselves confronted with the lack of time to explore a place as unmissable as it is high. Medicine and previous experiences with Altitude Evil dictate that we should not risk ascending in a hurry.
glaciers

icy blue planet

They form at high latitudes and/or altitudes. In Alaska or New Zealand, Argentina or Chile, rivers of ice are always stunning visions of an Earth as frigid as it is inhospitable.
Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand's Cursed Wizard

Despite his notoriety in the antipodes, Ian Channell, the New Zealand sorcerer, failed to predict or prevent several earthquakes that struck Christchurch. At the age of 88, after 23 years of contract with the city, he made very controversial statements and ended up fired.
Mount cook, New Zealand

The Cloud Piercer Mountain

Aoraki/Mount Cook may fall far short of the world's roof but it is New Zealand's highest and most imposing mountain.
Fiordland, New Zealand

The Fjords of the Antipodes

A geological quirk made the Fiordland region the rawest and most imposing in New Zealand. Year after year, many thousands of visitors worship the sub-domain slashed between Te Anau and Milford Sound.
hippopotami, chobe national park, botswana
Safari
Chobe NP, Botswana

Chobe: A River on the Border of Life with Death

Chobe marks the divide between Botswana and three of its neighboring countries, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. But its capricious bed has a far more crucial function than this political delimitation.
Thorong La, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, photo for posterity
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 13th: High camp - Thorong La - Muktinath, Nepal,

At the height of the Annapurnas Circuit

At 5416m of altitude, the Thorong La Gorge is the great challenge and the main cause of anxiety on the itinerary. After having killed 2014 climbers in October 29, crossing it safely generates a relief worthy of double celebration.
Sculptural Garden, Edward James, Xilitla, Huasteca Potosina, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Cobra dos Pecados
Architecture & Design
Xilitla, San Luis Potosí, Mexico

Edward James' Mexican Delirium

In the rainforest of Xilitla, the restless mind of poet Edward James has twinned an eccentric home garden. Today, Xilitla is lauded as an Eden of the Surreal.
Full Dog Mushing
Adventure
Seward, Alaska

The Alaskan Dog Mushing Summer

It's almost 30 degrees and the glaciers are melting. In Alaska, entrepreneurs have little time to get rich. Until the end of August, dog mushing cannot stop.
drinks entre reis, cavalhadas de pirenopolis, crusades, brazil
Ceremonies and Festivities
Pirenópolis, Brazil

Brazilian Crusades

Christian armies expelled Muslim forces from the Iberian Peninsula in the XNUMXth century. XV but, in Pirenópolis, in the Brazilian state of Goiás, the South American subjects of Carlos Magno continue to triumph.
Frederikstad-Saint-Croix-American-Virgin-Islands-Freedom
Cities
Frederiksted, Saint Croix, US Virgin Islands

The Emancipation City of the Danish West Indies

If Christiansted established itself as the capital and main commercial center of the island of Saint Croix, the “sister” of the leeward side, Frederiksted had its civilizational apogee when there was the revolt and subsequent liberation of the slaves that ensured the colony's prosperity.
Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo, Japan
Meal
Tokyo, Japan

The Fish Market That Lost its Freshness

In a year, each Japanese eats more than their weight in fish and shellfish. Since 1935, a considerable part was processed and sold in the largest fish market in the world. Tsukiji was terminated in October 2018, and replaced by Toyosu's.
Tatooine on Earth
Culture
Matmata Tataouine:  Tunisia

Star Wars Earth Base

For security reasons, the planet Tatooine from "The Force Awakens" was filmed in Abu Dhabi. We step back into the cosmic calendar and revisit some of the Tunisian places with the most impact in the saga.  
combat arbiter, cockfighting, philippines
Sport
Philippines

When Only Cock Fights Wake Up the Philippines

Banned in much of the First World, cockfighting thrives in the Philippines where they move millions of people and pesos. Despite its eternal problems, it is the sabong that most stimulates the nation.
Alaska, by Homer in Search of Whittier
Traveling
Homer a Whittier, Alaska

In Search of the Stealth Whittier

We leave Homer in search of Whittier, a refuge built in World War II and housing two hundred or so people, almost all in a single building.
capillary helmet
Ethnic
Viti levu, Fiji

Cannibalism and Hair, Fiji Islands' Old Pastimes

For 2500 years, anthropophagy has been part of everyday life in Fiji. In more recent centuries, the practice has been adorned by a fascinating hair cult. Luckily, only vestiges of the latest fashion remain.
View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

Registration Square, Silk Road, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
History
Samarkand, Uzbequistan

A Monumental Legacy of the Silk Road

In Samarkand, cotton is the most traded commodity and Ladas and Chevrolets have replaced camels. Today, instead of caravans, Marco Polo would find Uzbekistan's worst drivers.
Mdina, Malta, Silent City, architecture
Islands
Mdina, Malta

The Silent and Remarkable City of Malta

Mdina was Malta's capital until 1530. Even after the Knights Hospitaller demoted it, it was attacked and fortified accordingly. Today, it's the coastal and overlooking Valletta that drives the island's destinies. Mdina has the tranquility of its monumentality.
Passengers on the frozen surface of the Gulf of Bothnia, at the base of the "Sampo" icebreaker, Finland
Winter White
Kemi, Finland

It's No "Love Boat". Breaks the Ice since 1961

Built to maintain waterways through the most extreme arctic winter, the icebreaker Sampo” fulfilled its mission between Finland and Sweden for 30 years. In 1988, he reformed and dedicated himself to shorter trips that allow passengers to float in a newly opened channel in the Gulf of Bothnia, in clothes that, more than special, seem spacey.
José Saramago in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain, Glorieta de Saramago
Literature
Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain (España)

José Saramago's Basalt Raft

In 1993, frustrated by the Portuguese government's disregard for his work “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ”, Saramago moved with his wife Pilar del Río to Lanzarote. Back on this somewhat extraterrestrial Canary Island, we visited his home. And the refuge from the portuguese censorship that haunted the writer.
Howler Monkey, PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Nature
PN Tortuguero, Costa Rica

Tortuguero: From the Flooded Jungle to the Caribbean Sea

After two days of impasse due to torrential rain, we set out to discover the Tortuguero National Park. Channel after channel, we marvel at the natural richness and exuberance of this Costa Rican fluvial marine ecosystem.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Autumn
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Horseback riding in shades of gold
Natural Parks
El Calafate, Argentina

The New Gauchos of Patagonia

Around El Calafate, instead of the usual shepherds on horseback, we come across gauchos equestrian breeders and others who exhibit, to the delight of visitors, the traditional life of the golden pampas.
Jerusalem God, Israel, Golden City
UNESCO World Heritage
Jerusalem, Israel

Closer to God

Three thousand years of history as mystical as it is troubled come to life in Jerusalem. Worshiped by Christians, Jews and Muslims, this city radiates controversy but attracts believers from all over the world.
Heroes Acre Monument, Zimbabwe
Characters
Harare, Zimbabwewe

The Last Rales of Surreal Mugabué

In 2015, Zimbabwe's first lady Grace Mugabe said the 91-year-old president would rule until the age of 100 in a special wheelchair. Shortly thereafter, it began to insinuate itself into his succession. But in recent days, the generals have finally precipitated the removal of Robert Mugabe, who has replaced him with former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mahé Ilhas das Seychelles, friends of the beach
Beaches
Mahé, Seychelles

The Big Island of the Small Seychelles

Mahé is the largest of the islands of the smallest country in Africa. It's home to the nation's capital and most of the Seychellois. But not only. In its relative smallness, it hides a stunning tropical world, made of mountainous jungle that merges with the Indian Ocean in coves of all sea tones.
Hikers on the Ice Lake Trail, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Religion
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal,

Annapurna Circuit – The Painful Acclimatization of the Ice Lake

On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.
On Rails
On Rails

Train Travel: The World Best on Rails

No way to travel is as repetitive and enriching as going on rails. Climb aboard these disparate carriages and trains and enjoy the best scenery in the world on Rails.
Sentosa Island, Singapore, Family on Sentosa Artificial Beach
Society
Sentosa, Singapore

Singapore's Fun Island

It was a stronghold where the Japanese murdered Allied prisoners and welcomed troops who pursued Indonesian saboteurs. Today, the island of Sentosa fights the monotony that gripped the country.
Fruit sellers, Swarm, Mozambique
Daily life
Enxame Mozambique

Mozambican Fashion Service Area

It is repeated at almost all stops in towns of Mozambique worthy of appearing on maps. The machimbombo (bus) stops and is surrounded by a crowd of eager "businessmen". The products offered can be universal such as water or biscuits or typical of the area. In this region, a few kilometers from Nampula, fruit sales suceeded, in each and every case, quite intense.
São João Farm, Pantanal, Miranda, Mato Grosso do Sul, sunset
Wildlife
Fazenda São João, Miranda, Brazil

Pantanal with Paraguay in Sight

When the Fazenda Passo do Lontra decided to expand its ecotourism, it recruited the other family farm, the São João. Further away from the Miranda River, this second property reveals a remote Pantanal, on the verge of Paraguay. The country and the homonymous river.
Bungee jumping, Queenstown, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown, the Queen of Extreme Sports

In the century. XVIII, the Kiwi government proclaimed a mining village on the South Island "fit for a queen".Today's extreme scenery and activities reinforce the majestic status of ever-challenging Queenstown.
PT EN ES FR DE IT