Okay so this post is a little different from what this blog is all about. However this project wouldn’t be possible without the love and support of my amazing better half and the following is a story about how we got engaged.
Te Anau, NZ
We decided to walk into town from our small little apartment style hotel room we were staying in while visiting Te Anau. This was the start of the second leg of our adventures in New Zealand. It was a sunny Saturday and we had a helicopter ride scheduled first thing Sunday morning to take us around Milford sound.( For those of you who don’t know about Milford Sound, it’s a vast array of beautiful fjords that meet with the Southern Alps) The time was ten after two and Bre mentioned we should check in with the helicopter company about tomorrow’s flight. The lady at the counter pulled up our reservation and said a storm was moving in and it was a little unknown at this point. She checked the time and told us she may have something today for us. As she got on her radio, we looked at each other with some very nervous excitement. We got word that there were open seats on the next flight leaving in just 10 minutes! I panicked a bit and said, “I need to run back and grab my camera!”
Flying to Milford Sound
It was settled then, we were changing our afternoon stroll through the sleepy town for an earlier than scheduled helicopter ride. I grabbed the room key from Bre and sprinted back to the hotel room mentioning something about getting my camera bag ready. I grabbed what I thought should work, which included my camera, two lenses, and my Gopro. She arrived shortly after I did, we grabbed some puffy jackets and headed to the chopper. As we pulled up to a small hanger and field, the helicopter was already warmed up and the pilot was out waiting for us. We looked at each other like two kids entering Disneyland for the first time. It was an AS350 B2 Squirrel 6 passenger Helicopter. Before we entered the craft, our pilot gave us the only advice we really needed “whatever you do don’t go walking towards the back of the helicopter!” Sounded reasonable enough, so we hoped in and buckled up. We took off for our first leg to Milford Sound located just over 100km away.
We arrived at a tiny airfield in the middle of towering mountains surrounded by water and waterfalls in every direction. The plan was to pick up two girls who had been kayaking some of the lakes and rivers in the area earlier that day and were hitching a ride back. After a few seat arrangements we smuggled our way up front for the next lift off. The skies were clear, and our awesome pilot Mark took us up to over 6700 feet. He informed us we were going to land on a glacier and get out for some fun. Everything happened so fast and with so many amazing views, I didn’t even have time to be nervous as we crept closer to the edges of the jagged mountains. The helicopter crested up and over to a gorgeous white chunk of snow. We could see large crevasses and mountain tops in all directions. We managed to spin around and find a good solid spot to land on the large flat glacier that was part of Mt. Tutoko.
Planning makes all the difference
We all got out and immediately had to start taking pictures of this moment. My plan was to have the pilot take our picture with my large DSLR camera which had my Gopro attached and recording. This would be the moment I thought, this is finally the moment I was preparing for. Just then, Bre gave her phone to the pilot and he snapped a few pics before moving on to the others. I thought back to when I emailed the company. I told them my plans, so they were in the loop, hopefully the pilot was ready. We enjoyed the sights together for a moment before I hustled back over to Mark to ask him to take a few more with my camera this time. I whispered in his ear about my plans. He mentioned he was sorry he didn’t have a bottle of champagne as requested since we were originally scheduled tomorrow. I informed him that was the least of my worries. We both smiled as I handed him my 5-pound camera to use.
As I ran over to Bre to take some pictures, the nerves hit me like a ton of bricks! Everything I wanted to say to her, all the lines I had been practicing, seem to vanish from my mind. If you know me personally you know me as a man of few words, but this was different. This time I had what I figured stage fright felt like. My palms started to sweat, and I was trying to muter something about having more time. I turned to her and started unzipping my pocket regardless. Still unable to speak, I started getting on one knee. At this moment Bre’s expression on her face changed dramatically. My confidence persevered, and I asked her if she would marry me! Unable to speak herself, she put her left hand out as her right hand managed to wipe the tears coming from her eyes. The shock seemed to affect us both as I slide the ring on her finger. We kissed and hugged as though we hadn’t seen each other for weeks. After what seemed like a long while, I looked over at Mark and he was smiling still snapping pictures. As we walked towards him he asked what her answer was, and she said screamed out “yes!” He congratulated us both, I shook his hand and gave him a warm thanks for doing this for us. At this point, the 3 other passengers began taking pictures and congratulating us. We had a few introductions and some smiles as we all enjoyed the brief yet memorable moment.
I let out a sigh of relief knowing that all the things that could have gone wrong didn’t. And felt lucky and blessed with how things turned out. Mark wrangled us all up back in the helicopter and told us he had another beautiful spot to take us. I had no idea we were doing two landings on our trip. As we flew closer to more jagged mountains, we gasped at the blue glacier lakes that seemed to be hidden from the rest of the world. Mark knew which one had a big enough spot for choppers to land and since no others were present, he was happy to put us down next to Lake Erskine near flat top mountain. Everyone was in awe at how clear and blue the water was or as Bre would say “Gatorade”. We all looked like we were thinking the same thing, wanting to jump in. However, we were due back soon so we all jumped back in and buckled up.
The flight back was fairly quiet but smiles from ear to ear were on everyone. Mark continued to inform us of all the areas we passed over as any great guide would. He had a certain wit and dry sense of humor that made the experience with him that much more fun. Mark set the chopper down in the backyard of some very nice homes and let the two kayaking girls out. When we arrived at the hanger, the lady who had spoken to us at the front desk was outside waiting for our return. She immediately asked Bre what she said and was excited to give us a nice bottle of champagne to share in celebration. After a few pics with the amazing pilot Mark, we sat down outside at a picnic table and drank our wine in tranquility. I pulled out the paper I had written on which had the speech I had been practicing. I mentioned I was sorry I wasn’t able to say everything I wanted to. She informed me now was better than anytime. We baked in the sun for a bit and laughed about me caring the ring around the whole trip. Special thanks to Mark our pilot and fiordland helicopters for providing such a great experience.
A Lifetime Adventure Partner
We still had a week left exploring the south-island of New Zealand. Hiking in the Southern alps and checking out the small towns around them before we had to head home. The rest of the trip turned out great and I have never more excited to have someone in my life. Someone who supports me, understands me, and gives me the encouragement to conquer my goals. She is my adventure partner, lover and rock. Thank you for all you do and continue to do as we grow our lives together.