Monday, October 26, 2009

Float Plane

Well, it's nearly tea time a couple of days later, and we're in Taupo - our second day here.   Turned out the YHA was so nice, and we had an en suite, that we decided we'd just stay on instead of moving further down the island.   It means a long trip tomorrow, but we'll take it in stages - leave early, and stop frequently (as we did on the way up from Wellington).  

I'm not going to go into detail about what we've done so far, though as always, when you're travelling, there's plenty to talk about: new experiences, new ways of seeing things and so on.   Might as well talk about the particular new experience I had today, and make this post worthwhile!

Yesterday we'd discovered that there are two float planes (flying boats is an old name for them) taking people up for trips of various lengths.   Depending on how much you want to pay, you can fly a shortish trip (it turned out to be a very long ten minutes) over the town and beyond (Huka Falls and the thermal area, for example) or you can make the trip increasingly long by paying more.   Some of them take you up over the triple mountains across the lake: Ruapehu and its friends.  

Anyway, they couldn't take me yesterday because they needed at least two people to make the trip worthwhile, but they said they'd ring me if someone else wanted to go. Celia wasn't keen on it at all (she had enough after one of the Te Papa rides - more on that in another post) so she wouldn't go, but today about 10.30 I got a call to say that they had a booking for 12 midday, and could fit me in.   In the end there were three of us as well as the pilot - a couple of blokes from Sydney.  

I was just keen to go because it was a flying boat/float plane, and that's not an experience you can have everywhere.    In NZ, apparently, there are only about half a dozen being used commercially, and maybe three or four more besides that (the Catalina that visits the Wanaka Air Show is one).    

There's not a lot of room in one of these planes: I sat in the front because one of the guys had arthritic knees and couldn't squeeze in between the space between the pilot's seat and the back one.   Just as well I've lost some weight recently (kidding!)

Anyway, it was a great trip: taking off on the water was a lot less of a bumpy process than happens with jets, though coming back down on the water (which was relatively calm today) caused the usual thump on landing.   (It shouldn't be called 'landing' I'm sure, but I don't know the proper word.)     The flight itself was a bit bumpy, but you're not far off the ground, relatively speaking, and so you pick up quie a few air pockets and other thermal features.  

Taupo turns out to be a lot bigger than I'd expected, but then I've been surprised by the size of a few of the towns we've passed through on this trip. 

Photo by angelb, on Flickr.com.


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