Before kids, I wouldn’t have batted an eye about flying on a light aircraft,especially for the opportunity to view gorgeous scenery. I would’ve been the one to encourage a quicker, fancier and more expensive mode of transportation. With kids, however, I have become this crazy mother bear. Taking a 40 minute flight on a teeny-tiny plane to a remote area means putting your family at risk of falling out of the sky, crashing, burning, never to be seen again. Death. Or worse still, you survive and the kids perish. Just writing that sentence makes my stomach turn.
A friend of mine, who has kids of a similar age, said I shouldn’t worry about the small plane, that everything will be alright. I was relieved as I was being nonsensical. Then I asked if she would take a flight to Milford Sound. She said, “Oh no,” she wouldn’t take the kids on such a flight. Hold on!? Alarm bells right there!
Later, I started thinking about the 6 o’clock news, where a grainy picture of my family appears, pilfered from my Facebook profile with the headline “A Cessna carrying an Aussie family with 2 young children, on it’s way to Milford Sound, crashes. There were no survivors. The family should have taken the bus.”
The alternative, of course, IS to take a bus, which is a 5-hour journey each way along very windy roads. That is a long day indeed, including another 2-3 hour sightseeing trip around Milford Sound. I am sure we could’ve managed 2 screaming, unrestrained kids on a non-stopping bus full of strangers. We just didn’t want to.
So it was either see it or not see it. Of course we wanted to see it! We always want to see things. And so, with a lot of hesitation, we booked our flights.
The tour company cancelled our initial flight due to bad weather. We were rescheduled to depart on our last day in Queenstown. This wasn’t good, as there were 3 full days to really think about the flight. So I did what every sane person would do. I Googled “plane crashes Milford Sound” and, validating my lunatic thoughts, planes have indeed crashed.
By the time we were confirmed for our flight, I had already convinced my husband that this would be the last trip we would ever take. It didn’t help that it was raining. Pushing aside thoughts of JFK Jr, we took off. My son Liam spewing into a sick bag helped take my mind off things.
Once we were in the sky, the crazy subsided and the weather started to clear. We saw some of the most spectacular sights: tall snow capped mountain peaks, glaciers and deep blue-green water. The two lap kids were so well behaved; the constant hum of a noisy engine and high altitude lulled them to sleep.
We took a 1.5 hr cruise around Milford Sound and it was equally impressive. There aren’t a lot of places where you can see cascading waterfalls flowing straight into a fiord. There was such a fresh, peaceful feel to the place, and there were seals and dolphins to keep the kids entertained.
I guess if we were to crash, in my mind it would have happened on the way to Milford Sound, not on the way back.. So there was not one bit of trepidation upon boarding the flight back. I was more thankful we didn’t have to take the bus. We were picked up at 8:30am for a 9am flight and were back in town having a Mexican lunch by 1:30pm.
Keep an eye out for my downloadable Two Weeks in New Zealand guide. Lots more details about tours, things to do, places to go, and where to stay.
Do you think I’m a lunatic? Leave your comments below.