|On the way here from Hokitika we stopped and did a nice walk to a viewpoint of a lagoon. The walk started in the town of Okarito, population of about 30! But they had a tiny campground with hot showers for $1 so we were big fans of theirs! We arrived in the afternoon at Fox Glacier, another tiny town populated mostly by tourists. There is one general store, 2 cafes, and a couple of tour agencies and that's it! We spent the night out by Lake Matheson along with about a dozen other vans. It felt a lot like a high school party out there! It was the first time our free camping had been next to so many others, so it was a fun new experience. This morning as the fog lifted we had incredible views of Mt. Cook and Mt. Tasman, but then the tour buses started rolling in around 8 and didn't seem like they were going to stop, so we drove out a windy and narrow road to a neat black sand beach where they used to mine gold in the '30s.
Sounds like a nice relaxing morning, but it wasn't really since it was filled with anticipation for our afternoon activity - skydiving! Yup, we went against all the laws of nature and jumped out of a plane. To be honest, the plane was so tiny that it almost felt safer to be flying towards the earth! Almost. The guides we had were great, they've been doing this for years. Kate went with the owner of the company (a treat since she was definitely the more nervous one!) who has done over 10,000 dives! They took really good care of us. First we got to take a 20 minute scenic flight over the Southern Alps and glaciers, during which we managed to actually forget about jumping now and then. Then the door opened, we swung out, the pilot took some pics of us with the wing-mounted camera, the guide pushed off and away we went! It was pretty amazing. When the guides spun us around during the free fall we could see huge snow-capped mountains, glaciers, rainforest, and ocean. Pretty incredible. Once the chutes opened (which they did, much to Kate's relief!) we were floating, taking pictures of each other, checking out the views, and even steering. It was a fabulous experience. Still feels a bit surreal, and our stomachs are still not quite right, even a few hours later!
Not much can follow the skydive, but tomorrow we're off for a guided walk on the glacier. Should feel pretty tame after today!