Venturing Deep Into NZ's Largest Glacier
You may all realized by now that we just love NZ so much.
I don’t really know how to explain why we love it so much. But it’s always full of some new awesome adventures every single time we visited the country. Whether it is just strolling around Queenstown, trekking around in Mt Cook, or just chilling by the Lake Wanaka. There’s always something interesting.
Last time out, I decided to do something a little bit more exciting. After 2000km+ roadtrip with all of our awesome travelers, I went back down to Mt Cook and stayed for a few nights. And one of the days there I hopped on a helicopter and fly to the top of the largest glacier in NZ, Tasman Glacier.
The weather has been kind of ugly the last few days I was there. But luckily, there was 1 good weather window before the it turned to a full on winter storm. So, I made my way to Mt Cook Airport and fly.
It wasn’t my first time on a heli, but boy.. it never gets old. The feeling of excitement never fade away. When I stepped into the heli, put on my headphone, and the pilot said, “Welcome on board..”, man it feels unreal every single time.
Anyway, we took off and our first view was the Tasman Lake. I’ve been hiking there many times, but seeing it from above was just a completely different things. The icebergs look tiny, and you get to feel the scale of this huge mountain range around you. As we approached the main glacier, it feels like entering another world. Everything were white with some touches of blue and black. It was cold, like -13c and the wind was quite strong for the first few minutes.
We stepped out of the heli, put on the crampons and started exploring. Here it got even more interesting. It was my first time walking with crampons on my feet. It felt weird, but anyway we needed it to be able to walk on the ice. The wind started to slow down a bit, and we explore even deeper into the glacier. Our guide, started to look around for some “neat feature” (that’s how he said it) of the glacier. And by the way it was an ice cave. He checked for 2 ice caves there. The first one was not quite safe, since it has a bottomless cravass underneath it. The second one, it was quite “safe” so we went into it and it was just mindblowing. A world of blue, everything looked like crystal shaped by the elements for thousands of years (literally!). It was just a pure magical moment. We were the only group in that cave, so we had an absolute blast just exploring every inch of it. Such an experience!
After that crazy session in the ice cave, we walked back to our heli, and all of the sudden we heard a loud cracking sound from afar. And it was an avalanche. Quite a huge one actually. We were just far enough to be in the safe zone and to be able to observe it. Our guide (who’s by the way called “Gnarly”) explained to us about another “neat feature” of the mountain called serac. It was a pile of huge ice just underneath the summit of Mt Cook, which is very unstable and dangerous. It is in fact a very similar one with the one in Everest. And it explains a lot why the first human on the top of the world was from New Zealand. We hopped on back to our heli and flew around the serac for a bit, before heading back to the airport.
In the end, I could not explain, what an experience that was. Just a pure adventure in the most beautiful place I’ve been to. A proper way to end my adventure in NZ this year. And looking forward for another one already!