The wonder of gliding

A first-timer's description of gliding over the Waitaki River

When my mother and sister planned their visit to Oamaru to see our new home, my sister made a particular request to visit Omarama to see the world gliding championships.

So I made my inquiries, and discovered that the championships are not exactly a spectator sport, but that we would be more than welcome to go for a flight ourselves.

Having never glided (glid??) before, this was something that I approached with some trepidation, but I figured that nothing would be a better Christmas gift to my sister after making such a big trip than to buy us an afternoon's outing.

When the appointed day arrived, we were greeted with stunningly blue skies--something one often finds in the Waitaki District, perfect conditions for gliding.

We made our way to Omarama, a mere hour's journey by car from Oamaru, and reported to the gliding office to start our adventure.

Little did we know that Omarama is the home of the world championships for a reason--it's one of the world's best sites for gliding, owing to the thermals that come up off the Southern Alps and the winds that some in off the ocean (or something).

We were given the safety instructions and shown to our gliders, each of us flying separately since each plane only has room for one passenger and the pilot.

Before long, a tow plane was attached to my glider and after a quick run down the runway our glider was airborne! The sensation of flying in a virtually silent craft is a bit unusual at first, but you get used to it quickly.

Before long the tow plane disconnected from our glider and we were completely under our own "power", relying on those thermals to get ourselves higher and higher above the valley.

The scenery was incomparable, and it seemed like our hour's flight lasted only a few minutes, I would readily have agreed to a much longer flight if it weren't for all the other people waiting for my glider for their own unforgettable experience.

I would happily go again anytime, and recommend it to anyone who is in the area!

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