by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Journeys : April May 2010
mosquito on the snow, ready to make the flight back up to a new starting point. A picnic lunch at 2500 metres is the prelude to our second run, another eight kilometres of powder, dow n through lengthening after noon shadows to take the short flight back to the tarmac at Mt Cook Village. Our knees may be shaky and our noses sunbur nt, but after a brilliant and intriguing day's skiing, the first frosty Steinlager in the bar of The Hermitage, Mt Cook's wonderful hotel, doesn't even touch the sides. More on Alpine Guides' Ski the Tasman day: www.alpineguides.co.nz To plan your New Zealand holiday, call RACT Travelworld on 1300 368 111 or visit your local branch. The snow is crisp, creaking, boot-deep powder. It sits on top of a river of solid ice, 600 metres thick. The gently-sloping r un is eight kilometres long and a kilometre wide. The setting is the broad white back of the Tasm an Glacier in the heart of New Zealand's Souther n Alps, sur rounded by the serene summits that gave Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud, its lovely name. From a base in the Hermitage Hotel in Mt Cook Village, Alpine Guides has a long tradition of leading mountaineering, trekking and skiing expedition s in New Zealand's high country. One of the jewels in their crown is the guided Tasman Glacier descent. As well as promising the longest downhill r un in the southern hemisphere, Ski the Tasman offers a day of insights and discoveries about the secret life of glaciers. Glacier skiing is easy on the knees -- the grades are moderate and only intermediate skiing ability is needed. The thrill of the Tasman descent lies in the spectacular access flights, the delights of car ving easy tur ns on kilometre after kilometre of superb snow and the fascination of being close to a moving river of ice. Our day starts with a safety briefing and equipment check, then a 15 minute flight by ski plane from the valley, crossing the Tasman's terminal lake dotted with icebergs to land on Tasman Saddle near the head of the glacier. When the aircraft has droned out of sight, we're alone in a silent and beautiful alpine environment. After some stretching and warming up, the business of the day begins. Gentle slopes mean there's time to enjoy the astonishing scenery and the skiing just goes on and on, with one hissing r un linking into the next. An hour flies by, then another -- no lifts, no queues, no diesel fumes, no snowboarders to dodge -- just down, down and down again. There are plenty of chances to pause for rest and contemplation -- but while we pause, New Zealand's landscape is on the move. The glacial ice beneath our skis is grinding dow n the valley, a few centimetres every day -- an all-white bulldozer with the relentless power of an All Black scr um. Soaring from the ice edge are massive piles of ancient rock, being forced upward, faster than your fingernails grow, by the collision of two continental plates -- then being cr umbled down at a slightly slower rate from the forces of ice, water and wind. Because the ice is for med from compacted layers of snow, it's sometimes possible to read history, frozen in time. Our guide points out where an icefall has exposed a tall column with a prominent dark band -- it's sooty dust from Victoria's 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, carried by prevailing westerlies across the Tasman Sea and dropped with a late-summer snowfall. Last year's snow covered another, even thicker layer, from the disastrous Febr uary 2009 fires. It will take about 1000 years for this season's snowfall to move from the head to the snout of the glacier, 20 kilometres dow n the valley. Our guide relates the tale of the Japanese executive who chainsawed out a chunk of glacial ice and flew it back to Tokyo, to be chipped up and splashed with the finest scotch. Dense from the weight of a millennium, the compressed ice responds with a dramatic snap, crackle and pop when the liquor hits. After a break, it's back to business, slipping between seracs, sliding past crevasses and peering cautiously into the blue depths. Ahead and behind, the terrain seems featureless and it's hard to grasp a sense of time and place. At last, there's the Pilatus Porter, a red and yellow Destinations 17 April / May 10
Feb March 2010
RACT MNJ June July 2010