Day 195 on the Road
Landing on the Tasman Glacier in a Ski Plane
Today’s epic activity, as part of our 365 Days: 365 Activities, is landing on the Tasman Glacier in a ski plane in Mt Cook! If you like this video and want to see more must-do activities in New Zealand then fly on over to our YouTube Channel!
Today for the first time and probably only time in my life, we are going on a ski plane.
Today is a pretty awesome day as we are heading to the Mt Cook Airport once more because we are going to fly up to the Tasman glacier and actually land on a glacier with a plane. It’s called a ski plane and I’m stoked about it.
As soon as we arrive in the middle of the Mt Cook Airport we are seeing a hugely busy airport. There are people after people going on awesome experiences all around the area and we are one of them.
We meet Matt which is gonna be our pilot today and a bunch of other tour goers that are going to be joining us for this awesome flight.
The goal today is to fly all the way up New Zealand’s longest glacier and land on top of it in the snowy part just to see a very different angle of the Tasman Glacier than we saw last time when hiking in and out the beautiful glacier. Check that video out we did that two days ago and that was called Mt Cook glacier heli-hike.
As soon as we take off we are absolutely amazed by the plane itself first. It is a pretty old dingy and it’s really awesome to see that that old technology actually works very well. I’m really used to those massive airline plane which are beautiful and super techno-logic and that reassures me but this is just a simple soap box with good old physics.
There’s no need for a fancy plane when the views are that good. We are following the whole length of the Tasman Glacier which is actually New Zealand’s longest glacier at 23km long and it’s 1 to 2 km wide and God knows how deep.
And we’re getting such awesome views of the glacier which looks like a super long and straight white river below us. And another really striking thing about this flight is actually how close we’re getting to the mountains. We’re sort of flying alongside the mountains not really over the top of them so this is such a real surreal feeling.
But then we notice that we are actually getting closer to the ground, the mountains are towering above us and this means that we are finally coming into landing onto the Tasman Glacier onto the snowfields.
As the propeller is slowing down and skis are getting closer to the ground, this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Everyone in the plane is glued to windows watching those skis touch the snow.
This is the first and probably the only time in our lives that we are in a ski plane landing on a glacier. In fact there’s not that many places in the world that you can have this experience.
But as you can see we are super stoked that our pilot managed to pull this off so we are now hopping out of the ski plane and we are stepping onto the Tasman Glacier.
The Tasman Glacier is New Zealand’s longest glacier and it’s also quite fast moving glacier it moves at 0.65m a day which is quite fast for a glacier.
And there is snow on top of the Tasman glacier all year round so this tour is available all year round since the plane can only land on the snow.
We’ve got heaps of time actually we’ve got about 20 minutes to explore the glacier, take heaps of pictures, embrace the stunning views, and feel tiny surrounded by so many gigantic mountains before we head back onto the plane for the journey back to the base.
For the flight back, Laura and I have swapped seats so she can get a front view and I get a view from the side wings which is pretty awesome. The take-off is a bit of an an unreal experience as the plane is starting to speed really really fast on the snow before finally taking off.
I don’t know if the wheels were actually moving or the plane was just sliding downhill and at some point it finally took off.
It was really awesome to be able to access such a remote area. There is basically no other way aside from 9 days hike in the snow to arrive into the top of the Tasman Glacier so we feel super lucky.
And the awesome thing about the flight back as well is that we get to see a whole different side of the valley. Our pilot Matt is taking the time to get us really up close to the mountain ridges on both sides of the mountains and we get really really really close to a massive ice fall coming down from Mt Cook. It’s an impressive sight I have never seen anything like that and I did not know we could flying so close to it. I feel like I could almost just reach out and touch it with my hand if I could open the window.
Luckily Robin doesn’t have the right to open the window in this tiny airplane but once we get to the end of the Tasman Glacier that is not the end of the stunning views because at the end of the glacier is where it terminates into the Tasman Glacier Lake. And this lake is an ever expanding one it’s getting bigger and bigger every year it’s currently around 5km long.
It features loads of different ice bergs that have broken off from the glacier and from up here they just look like little white dots in the lake but if you get close up to them they’re actually massive.
Another really awesome feature to see from the sky is braided rivers making their way into Lake Pukaki and once we see this sort of scenery that means that we’re actually coming closer to the Mt Cook Airport so now it’s time for us to do our final landing of today.
Admittedly it’s not as exciting as landing in the snow but it’s still pretty cool.
It was an absolutely amazing experience to fly in such an amazing area we got a birds-eye-view on some of the most prestigious and pristine landscapes of the country and it really makes us want to do it even more so tomorrow we are going to hop onto another flight to do a 360 loop around beautiful Mt Cook.
I know that we’re about to land. He’s putting the skis down on the plane and it is not a system where you push a button nope it’s…. [noises]…. and the skis slowly go down. It is pretty impressive how you know basic it is.