I wasn’t really sure what to write here, I have written and rewritten this post several times, but it is something that has been on my mind and I felt the need to put it down in words.
My husband and I arrived in the town of Franz Josef in New Zealand on a Thursday afternoon. We were intending on taking a 30 minute Twin Glacier Tour helicopter ride, complete with snow landing, of Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier – a popular activity on the West Coast.
When we got to the office of the tour company, we were told that it wouldn’t be possible to take the tour that day due to poor weather conditions, and to come back tomorrow. The weather was pretty awful, so we were half expecting them to say that. Still, we returned on two occasions the following day, but were told the same thing again.
Around 9.30am on the Saturday morning, we made one last ditch attempt at getting ourselves on to a flight but were told they weren’t operating from Franz Josef still. We had, however, been booked on the 11am flight from Fox Glacier, the man had told us that we might have better luck if we tried from there. So we took the half hour drive from Franz to Fox but saw no improvement in the weather. The staff in the office at Fox couldn’t say for certain whether or not our flight would take place and as we had a 3 hour drive south ahead of us, we decided to cancel our places on the 11am flight and leave town.
At 10pm that evening, we received a phonecall from an unknown number on our New Zealand phone. It was my mum, sick with worry. She then told us that the BBC News had reported that a helicopter had crashed on Fox Glacier at 11am NZ time that morning, all 7 people on board had died including 4 Britons, 2 Australians and the pilot. As we’d had no wifi access and the tv was being used for movies in the hostel, we were none the wiser. I felt sick and shaky to think that that could have easily been us.
Whenever you hear this kind of story on the news, you always feel shocked and sad for those involved but it is always something so far removed from home that you barely give it another thought. It isn’t until you think ‘that could have been me’, that you take a step back to appreciate life and realise just how lucky you are. Every day is a blessing.
People (myself included) decide to go on these crazy adventures, ticking things off their Bucket List, living life to the full… but you never consider that your life could be over in an instant. It’s a scary thought and makes you realise just how precious, and short, life is. My deepest condolences go out to the friends and families of the 7 people on board that helicopter. I cannot imagine how you are feeling, my thoughts are with you.