NZ-Antarctica scenic flights resume
Tue, 04 Sep 2012 6:16p.m.
By Tom McRae
The first scenic flight from New Zealand to Antarctica since the Erebus disaster will take off this summer.
Thirty-three years ago, Air New Zealand Flight 901 crashed into Mount Erebus, killing all 257 onboard.
Scenic flights have been operating out of Australia, but demand from Kiwis means the company will now expand to Auckland.
It's the coldest, driest, windiest and most remote place on Earth.
But Antarctica is now that much closer for Kiwis.
“You go out to the airport, get on a flight, fly for three or four hours and you're somewhere that's so surreal and so different, and then get back home that night,” says Phil Asker of Antarctica Sightseeing Flights. “That's what's makes it really quite amazing.”
Antarctica Sightseeing Flights have flown from Australia for 18 years.
They've avoided flights from New Zealand until now because of sensitivities since the Erebus crash in 1979, and never fly over the crash site.
“We certainly don't want to upset anyone,” says Mr Asker. “What we're offering to New Zealanders is a very safe and comfortable way to go to Antarctica and a very easy way.”
The 12-hour charter flight, operated by Qantas, takes you down to 10,000 feet, slowing as it reaches the ice to give you a better view.
Polar experts give a running commentary. It’s very special and very few people get the opportunity to see the continent.
Passengers rotate so everyone gets a chance at a window seat.
“It also gives people the chance to leave Antarctica to science and not to mine the continent, not to build hotels there, but leave it as the pristine place it is,” says Mr Asker.
There's only one Auckland flight this summer, on February third.
Seats start from $1600, but that includes bragging rights.
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