WALK­ING on the moon

My for­ti­eth birth­day was on the hori­zon, and I was strug­gling to come up with a way to cel­e­brate it. I knew I wanted to be back in my home­town of Tau­ranga to catch up with friends, but be­yond that... Imag­ine my sur­prise when two of my old­est and dear­est f

Go Travel New Zealand - - Bay Of Plenty - by Teresa Kulesza

Their thought­ful gift com­bined two el­e­ments on my wish list: fly­ing in a he­li­copter and see­ing a vol­cano. I had been fas­ci­nated with vol­ca­noes since pri­mary school when a teacher had demon­strated an erup­tion from a pa­per mache vol­cano al­beit with food colour­ing, bak­ing soda and vine­gar.

The morn­ing of the flight was crisp and clear. As my friends and I made the short trip to Tau­ranga Air­port I was full of ner­vous an­tic­i­pa­tion at the thought of my first ever he­li­copter flight. Kay and Louise had re­cent- ly been on a sight-see­ing flight with Aerius He­li­copters and were ex­cited to be able to share the ex­pe­ri­ence with me.

White Is­land (or Whakaari) lies 52 kilo­me­tres off the Bay of Plenty coast and is New Zealand’s most ac­tive vol­cano. Built up by con­tin­u­ous vol­canic ac­tiv­ity over the past 150,000 years it is a link in the chain of vol­ca­noes known as the Pa­cific Ring of Fire. I have done a lit­tle re­search over the years about vol­ca­noes in gen­eral; lit­tle did I know that I was about to get up close and per­sonal with this one! Our pi­lot Dave es­corted us to the he­li­copter – a four seater in­clud­ing pi­lot (one of two the com­pany of­fers – the other be­ing a six seater in­clud­ing pi­lot). Dave got us all com­fort­ably aboard and buck­led in – he has a very calm, friendly de­meanour which helped set me at ease as my nerves were def­i­nitely get­ting the bet­ter of me at that stage. I had no idea what to ex­pect as Dave started the he­li­copter, and the ro­tor be­gan spin­ning. The revs in­creased to seem­ingly fever-pitch and then we were gen­tly climb­ing away into the air with the ground steadily re­ced­ing be­low. It was a very dif­fer­ent sen­sa­tion com-

White Is­land IMAGES: cour­tesy of Aerius He­li­copters

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