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Mar 10

Conquering Fears & Flying to Milford Sound

Considering I’ve traveled to 31 countries and only some of them via boat, it might surprise you that for the past few years I’ve dealt with serious plane anxiety. I sit in the chair staring out the window at the tarmac with sweaty palms and a racing heart, and as the plane takes off I’m only one ounce of self control away from a nervous breakdown in which I yell like Kristin Wiig about the colonial woman sitting on the wing.

Flying to Milford Sound

With this kind of outlook on airplanes, the thought of hopping in the front seat of a tiny 12-seater Cessna was further from my mind than the desire to ride a hippopotamus—yet that’s exactly where I found myself not long ago.

Flying to Milford Sound

While living in Queenstown, New Zealand my job involved selling tours to people, and most local companies offered free trips to familiarize us with the products we were selling. I happened to sell a lot of flights to Milford sound on Air Milford, so I decided to suck it up and take advantage of this opportunity, even if I fainted and/or vomited on myself in the process.

Flying to Milford Sound

Flying to Milford SoundFor once, the weather was on my side and we glided off the runway and up into calm, blue skies. As we ascended, my anxiety completely dissipated while I stared out the window at the jaw dropping views. I’m not exaggerating—my jaw was literally hanging for most of the flight, I was in such awe.

Flying to Milford Sound

Flying to Milford Sound

We flew above the sparkling turquoise waters of Lake Wakatipu and between the peaks of jagged, snow capped mountains. We passed by a lake in a high basin that spilled over its edges into a waterfall with no end in sight. I felt like I was in a scene from Lord of the Rings but without any scary orcs chasing me.

Flying to Milford Sound

We reached the coastline and turned back inland to fly in through the famed Milford Sound. We landed at the base of the sound and boarded a boat for our cruise through the waters. It was like some kind of magical Lucky Charms commercial: dolphins splashed alongside our boat; seals lounging on rocks raised their flippers in a lazy wave; a rainbow arched across the sound above us; a waterfall cascaded down a green moss-covered cliff.

Flying to Milford Sound

Flying to Milford Sound

The only price we had to pay for the clear day was the wind.

Flying to Milford Sound

We finally had to return to the plane for our flight back to Queenstown. With all anxiety long forgotten, I requested to be co-pilot and was granted the chance to sit in the cockpit for the flight back. As we flew back through the craggy mountains and breathtaking scenery, I didn’t want the flight to end.

Flying to Milford Sound

Not wanting to get off of a tiny airplane? I consider that a fear conquered.

  • Amy Bruckbauer

    May I ask how you found your job selling tours in Queenstown? Do you have a working holiday visa? This sounds like a dream job if it lets you take free tours!

    • KaleenasKaleidoscope

      I have a working holiday visa, Americans can get one free for a year. My job was working in guest services at a hotel–selling tours was my favorite part. It’s always fun sending people on trips to enjoy themselves! I got it because I have experience in the field (I used to be a travel agent, among other things) but you might be able to find a job in some kind of tour office whether you have experience or not.

      • Amy Bruckbauer

        Ah, thank you! I hope to do something like this in a few years in New Zealand or Australia (or both!) 🙂