How many times have all of us travel professionals heard that statement?! The internet - which we love as without it we would not have our business or lifestyle - perpetuates and emphasizes those places to which most people go. By letting the internet dictate your travel plans, you are dropping yourself into that great flow of people beating a path to Milford Sound; to Franz Josef; on the Tranz Scenic; to Kelly Tarlton's; to Te Puia - to all the obvious, touristic places. You can usually tell by all the buses parked there.
Just taking Milford Sound as an example. What is this and why does everyone want to go there? It is a picturesque stretch of water over on the South West coast of the South Island. Quite beautiful. As is all of Fiordland. All of Mount Aspiring National Park. All of these glaciers (New Zealand has 3,100 glaciers larger than a hectare, and most are in this area. Where does everyone go - Franz Josef. "I must go to Franz Josef as this is what the internet tells me")
Doubtful Sound is beautiful, in some ways more beautiful than Milford. And Dusky is the remotest, most romantic of the lot. Never mind the other dozen or so major waterways feeding into the Tasman.
So why Milford? The answer is accessibility. Milford is unique in that it has a road going to it. This allows lots and lots and lots of people to get into buses and then get into lots and lots and lots of ships and see Milford Sound. That's why lots and lots and lots of people talk about it, and why lots more keep asking us to send them there.
But that's not what Ahipara is all about. We're about discovering the essence of a place without being mown down by crowds. We're about informing people as to why their friends advice was somewhat lacking. We're about connecting people to New Zealand. Connecting them to all of Fiordland (if possible) rather than the obvious selling point at an attractive price point.
And as we keep mentioning, we work with the right people to try and realise these lofty ambitions for our clients. For a number of years we have been perfecting a special helicopter day with Aspiring Helicopters. We worked with Lydia Bradey (first lady to climb Everest without oxygen) in developing the concept and have now been putting people through our version of a Fiordland Discovery for a number of years.
What's our version? First of all you can see some photos of us enjoying it on our Facebook site here. We're undoubtedly having fun but also double-checking timings, distances, contingencies, menus, landing spots. We're spending a full day with experts working out how to bring the experience to our clients.
Our version involves the right helicopter; the right pilot; the right menu; an unrushed schedule; the right landing places; lots of flying time; and as much time on the ground as you want. Oh yes, and we do fly through Milford Sound when the weather lets us. It takes up maybe 10 minutes of our 4 hours of flying and allows our clients to see buses and cruise ships from the air. The best way to see them.