Friday, July 19, 2024

My helicopter ride over one of New Zealand’s beautiful national parks

Posted by Elena del Valle on March 4, 2020

The scenery was breathtaking.

One my most vivid memories from a 2019 trip to the South Island of New Zealand was a private helicopter ride over the popular Tasman National Park. A little after breakfast, my pilot landed a 2008 Eurocopter EC120 helicopter on the property lawn at the intimate lodge where I was staying. I quickly bid fellow guests and the property owners good-bye.

Logan Moore, pilot, Tasman Helicopters in front of the Eurocopter EC120 before our departure

Minutes later Logan Moore, chief executive officer and pilot of Tasman Helicopters (Tangmere place, Nelson Airport, South Island, New Zealand,, +64 03 528 8075), and I were airborne. Although the vessel could accommodate four passengers I was the sole one that morning.


At Wharariki Beach

At the Mount Olympus Lord of the Rings film site

On our way to Motueka Airport to meet my guide we flew over the expansive and unspoiled property where I had stayed, the nearby pristine coast and the popular Tasman National Park. We also stopped twice, at Wharariki Beach and at the Mount Olympus Lord of the Rings film site. The scenery was beautiful, the flight smooth and pleasant. With the exception of the park we saw no people. Because of the beautiful scenery and comfort the flight was one of the highlights of the trip. It was a heady experience I would enjoy repeating and recommend to friends.

Along Orlando North scenic trail

Posted by Elena del Valle on October 25, 2018

First of occasional travel notes

A section of the Seminole-Wekiva Trail, a 14-mile rail trail in Seminole County, Florida (click on the photo to enlarge)

Photos: Seminole County Parks & Recreation

One of the discoveries I most enjoyed during a recent trip to Lake Mary, Florida was the Seminole-Wekiva Trail, a 14-mile rail trail, which includes Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Lake Mary and Sanford in the central part of the Sunshine State. It runs alongside the abandoned tracks  of Florida’s old Orange Beltway Railway, at one time the longest railroad in the country.  Although I don’t recall seeing the tracks I noticed a small metal sign with the name of the trail.

It couldn’t have been more convenient as it passed by the front of my hotel (Westin Lake Mary Orlando North), curving through busy suburban streets, past water features and at times weaving beneath shady tall trees dressed with Spanish moss. My favorite part, I didn’t see the entire trail, was the canopied section that traversed a nearby residential area, offering views into the grassy backyards of some of the homes.

Seminole-Wekiva Trail

The Seminole-Wekiva Trail is part of the Florida National Scenic Trail.

The Seminole-Wekiva Trail is part of the Florida National Scenic Trail, a federally designated, non-motorized, recreation trail that spans approximately 1,300 miles across some of the state landscapes. According to the trail website, the trail end points are: Markham Road near CR 46A (Wekiva River Protection Area) (Longwood) and FL 436 near Laurel St. (Altamonte Springs). I wish we had a similar trail in my neighborhood.

Along its paved path I saw many locals walking their dogs, riding their bicycles (sometimes a bit aggressively), walking and jogging. In the greenest sections, where it was cool and shady, I heard birds calling and nature sounds. Exploring the trail was one of the most pleasant activities during my brief visit to Orlando North.