Our scenic helicopter flight across Abel Tasman.

Milady A - Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Third day at the Split Apple Retreat was all about visiting Abel Tasman National Park by helicopter.

A few days before our stay in this beautiful coastal national park, we decided ‘not’ to book a helicopter flight to see the Franz Josef Glacier as we would have been stuck like anchovies in a jar, sitting with plenty of others in one helicopter! However this time, as we were staying in the Split Apple Retreat where just everything was private, Lee booked us a helicopter tour for 5 hours with just the two of us, and an amazing pilot of course.

Lee dropped us off at the pick-up point, a 3-minutes drive from their heavenly place, where Andrew, the pilot, was going to pick us up.

When I drive my own car, I am a ‘very’ sportive driver as we call it, however I get totally carsick when I am in the passenger seat, except when Mr Big is driving. Because of this motion sickness, I have always been a little reluctant towards scenic flights on vacation, but this time Lee assured us that Andrew is an amazing pilot who even steers his helicopter through strong winds as if the sky was totally tranquil for the passengers. And so it happened.
When Lee says: “Andrew is a great guy!” … we could be damn sure that we were going to have the most fabulous day!
When Lee says: “You’ll see, you’ll fly as smooth as you ever imagined!” … it turned out he was right again!

It was a spectacular voyage, which allowed us to see the golden sandy beaches, the limestone cliffs, lush native bush as well as the clear turquoise water of Abel Tasman from the air.

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Luxury Places - Luxury Travel - New-Zealand - NZ Abel Tasman Scenic Flight

The scenery was stunning, and I decided instantly that I would do more of these scenic flights when we are travelling through the most beautiful spots on earth, however … only “private” flights for Milady A!

The day consisted of much more than flying over the spectacular national park; we started our journey with a visit to a huge sheep farm, situated near the ocean in the midst of breathtaking nature.

My gosh, I could live right there … !

The only thing I’d need, is fly back and forth to Milan every 4 months to do my shopping because brands, or fashion in general, is just non-existent over there.

The farmer’s couple welcomed us warmly and showed us how he manages to bring the hundreds of sheep from one side of the hill to the other, and how his so-damn-well-trained dogs each have a specific task according to their skills. Amazing to see and experience!

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Luxury Places - Luxury Travel - New-Zealand - NZ Abel Tasman Scenic Flight

Andrew came to pick us up in his heli, after we walked all the way up the hill together with the sympathetic farmer, and took us to a totally deserted beach where we would have lunch.
My goodness, once again we were baffled!

We landed on an awe-inspiring beach, where we were totally alone!!

A private beach which is only accessible by boat or air but obviously not mentioned in the touristic magazines as we could enjoy the place all by ourselves.

“The perfect spot to do our next fashion shoot,” we said, and that’s what we did, but that story is for the next column.

Pen prepared us lunch that morning, just before we left, and we indulged her delicious meal at the seashore, with the sound of the waves, the birds and the wind.

Is there anything better in this world?

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Luxury Places - Luxury Travel - New-Zealand - NZ Abel Tasman Scenic Flight

Next landing point sparkled our eyes with another thrilling experience as we discovered amazing transparent, and yet blue, Te Waikoropupu Springs which are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand, the largest cold water springs in the Southern Hemisphere and contain some of the clearest water ever measured.

It was fascinating to see the springs from land first and afterwards from the air, as Andrew wanted this view from above to be the perfect closure of a perfect day.

More on photography.milady-a.com
Luxury Places - Luxury Travel - New-Zealand - NZ Abel Tasman Scenic Flight

Around 16h we flew back and before we were about to land, Andrew flew across the Split Apple Retreat where we could see Pen waving from the terrace. Lee was back at the pick-up point in the meantime and was logically perfectly on time to take us back to his own paradise.

The rest of the evening, we enjoyed a revitalizing Kundalini meditation, under the guidance of Lee, and felt totally replenished with energy and inspiration.
I wrote a full column in half an hour that evening!

The next morning, we felt totally sad as we had to leave this wonderful spot and the most delightful hosts we’ve met throughout our travelling experiences.
We enjoyed our last coconut yoghurt and self-made granola for a last time, pampered our taste buds with our last banana pancake and were so delighted that we decided to change our ferry transfer to the Northern island to a later shift. If not, Milady A would have been a total mess as my wonderful man would have been forced to push me into the rainbow shower at 5h in the morning and that, my dear readers, would have been a disastrous plan!
Lee took care of that matter the night before – I think he perfectly understood that Milady A is not a morning person – which gave us another perfect ocean-view-breakfast-moment.

Lee wondered outloud: “How is that possible that your travel agency booked you on such an early ferry? They should know their clients better!”
We muttered … and moaned a bit … and were saved from having to speak as Lee said: “Hey, I can introduce you to Doug and John, great friends of ours and organizers of all of our travel worldwide. Are you interested in such an international travel agency? I can introduce you right away!”

And that’s how the following happened …

We heard so many praising words about their two friends, compliments about their outstanding work, their exquisite taste to find the most unique spots in the world and their extraordinary client-oriented attitude, that we were almost begging to find such travel experts ourselves. Lee explained that Doug and John travel around the world for minimum 8 months a year, going from one luxury place to another, and advising their clients only on hotels and resorts they’ve stayed in themselves.

“Gosh, that sounds like a dream!” I shouted.

And in our last minutes at the breakfast table, Lee went inside, sent a mail to his friends, and e-introduced us to Doug and John, mentioning the special click we felt as of the moment we arrived. Doug, who is living on the other side of the world, in Los Angeles, replied right away and we were all stunned and were calculating what time it must have been in LA … but decided that Doug and John could as well be in a totally different place than their home base.

The moment of our departure was unique.

We said: “Lee, Pen, if you would ever come to Belgium, you have to let us know as we just have to meet again!”
Lee answered: “Oh, well, we travel to Italy in the summer, why don’t we meet up there?

We loved this way of looking at life, as for many Europeans it would be a huge journey to travel to Italy for a get-together with some friends … not for us, I have been dreaming of that kind of life since long and it seems that the ball started rolling. Having friends from the other side of the world and combining travel and get-together short trips is just the best life ever!

That’s how we decided, right there, right then, that we would book a trip to Italy in June to meet up with Lee and Pen who became friends in just a few days.

It goes without saying that Doug and John, from Celestielle Travel , received their first travel assignment from us in their mailbox.
As they always look for the most exclusive spots in the world, and more importantly stay there themselves in order to advise their clients appropriately, it goes without saying that they are the perfect match for our travel wishes!

This week I read an article on Doug’s facebook page, mentioning that Celestielle Travel claims to be ‘The Best-traveled Agency in The World’ in the Travelmarket report. I feel honored to have them as our travel agency from now on!

Where this experience in Italy will takes us, will be a story for June.
As always, do come back for more … !

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