Since learning to fly paragliders four years ago, I’ve been back to New Zealand seven times. This summer was the longest trip so far and I had more cameras than ever!
Here are a few photos from the trip:
Hamish and I tried to stay together but as it happened I got low. Hamish flew off towards Wanaka while I landed early but stayed in the mountains and got a great consolation prize flight out the next day. The video is here.
I launched in the basin to my left, and after climbing out I tried to push up the Routeburn valley. Not a lot of luck with that but I did continue to have a great flight downwind, one of the longest distances (about 35km) of the season.
We took off from Sealy Tarns for a quick couple of hours of dramatic flying amongst big mountains before the winds got a bit funky and we scooted off to the valley to land. I got a photo of Grey flying the same wing as me (a size down) but while we were stopping at all stations Phil was ahead on the express train!
Covering more distance in a day than I’d covered all week, a day of light winds and high climbs meant that i’d be silly not to enjoy a flight path along the highest craggy peaks of the Richardson range. I had views of a fair chunk of the island, including Mt Cook!
The previous day in stable conditions, I had scratched against massive cliffs and not gained more than 100 metres above launch, and then as the sun set I finally retired to the valley floor after missing a very brief opportunity to land above bushline. While I can’t complain about flying for over 6 hours in a pristine environment, getting an actual thermal the next day was beyond comparison! One of the highlights of the trip!
Nevertheless I slipped below an inversion and yet again landed in the valley. With long summer days though I had a second chance and climbed though bush and boulders before flying the last bit up Mt Nox, and gliding back to civilisation to replenish my food supplies.
Paragliding allows you to get close and personal with landforms you might not appreciate from a distance. No scratched perspex windows to look through, and quiet enough to hear the birds sing and the water crashing down…