I was really looking forward to this. 30 minute helicopter ride with a glacier landing? Oh yes.
We woke up to near white out conditions on the glaciers, meaning no helicopter ride for us. However, it cleared slightly after about thirty minutes and we were able to go up. We probably should have opted out, as the helicopter was only able to land on the glacier for less than two minutes and we couldn’t see too much. On a brighter day, this would have been such an amazing trip, but the weather was a huge disappointment. At any rate, we all loved being in a helicopter! I gave up the front seat of the helicopter to the boys, so they got better photos than I did.
That little hut is where the hard core climbers can seek shelter. The glacial ice has a blue tone to it which you can see in the photos.
I wasn’t kidding about the weather conditions. In fact, looking back at these, we must have been out of our minds!
No lazing around on this part of our trip. After our helicopter adventure, we continued driving up the coast to to Punakaiki, home of the famous Pancake Rocks. I begged Mark to take what turned out to be quite the detour through dairy farm country to see Hokitika Gorge. I had seen images of it online and couldn’t miss it. We hiked for about 2o minutes down a concrete path, and it didn’t disappoint. Yes, it really is that color!! The lack of haircuts on the boys killed all hopes for much of a decent family photo!
Finally, we got to our little cottage rental across from the beach in Punakaiki. This area of the west coast is really remote – we could only find two restaurants anywhere nearby. This area of New Zealand reminded me of the Oregon coast.
These Pancake Rocks were formed millions of years ago from fragments of dead creatures and plants. Immense water pressure caused the fragments to solidify in hard and soft layers. Then, seismic action lifted the limestone above the seabed, and slightly acidic rain, wind and seawater helped to make these crazy shapes.