Wanaka airport is tiny. It has no control tower (the pilots just give their position and intentions to one another over the VHF) and in typical Kiwi style, to which I have now become accustomed, there are no rules apart from a somewhat understated board suggesting that pilots should be careful when they refill so as not to spill fuel on the grass. The air is shared by fixed wing pleasure aircraft, the very occasional commercial flight, skydivers and helicopters. You would think the latter two wouldn’t mix but they seem to co-exist happily even if the parachute landing ground is immediately adjacent to where the helicopters land and take off.
The airport also supplies a wonderful breakfast ranging from the all day variety to pancakes, smoothies in addition to other delicacies and it was for this reason that we had headed here on my departure day.
As we finished our breakfast, Bill, a friend of Shannon’s (she seems to know everyone) ambled up from his helicopter, had a coffee and invited us for a flight. And what an experience! Flying low over Wanaka, my home for the past fortnight, then alongside Mount Roy, a wide sweep past Glendhu Bay, toward and over Lake Hawea and back to breakfast! To say the flight was awesome would be an understatement.
As I write this from the Air New Zealand lounge at Auckland airport waiting for the flight to Los Angeles then London I’m already starting to miss this amazing country and most of all Dirk, Shannon and little Eva: But I know that I’ll be back soon and that makes everything better.
Vincent van Walt