Crew Beach Cleanup
We’ve had a pretty tough week here in Franz Josef.
On Tuesday afternoon the Waiho Bridge which connects Franz Josef township with the road South towards Haast and onto Wanaka was swept away with what some are saying was a 1 in 100yr flood. During the night matters were made worse when the stock bank failed which turned our Airport and surrounding farms into the new river. Some parts of Westland had up to 800 mm of rain during the downpour. To put this into context, on average, London experiences 583.6 millimetres of rain annually.
Thankfully despite all this – our staff, aircraft and hangar are all in good order.
Most of our team were out of the region, expecting the worst, but hoping for the best.
On Tuesday morning, our Base Manager and Pilot James hitched a ride across the river (in a helicopter) to survey the damage. Despite the runway carrying the Waiho River, the hanger, our aircraft and our parachutes were all in good condition and undamaged. Unfortuantely, aircraft in the hanger beside ours were damaged. Our thoughts go out to the owners of those aircraft.
As our team came together to survey the damage to the village, we decided that we needed to do something to help. We’re young (ish), we’re fit and we can cope pretty well with heights – anything up to 20,000 ft and we’re good as gold.
We got news that there was a bit of debris and rubbish that had washed down the river and was on the Okarito Beach.
Tonight, we went to the beach and cleaned up over 10 bags of rubbish, which will be disposed of properly.
Okarito Beach is a hidden gem, tucked away off the State Highway with sea cliffs, lush forest and unsurpassed views of the Southern Alps. This small village is now home to around 30 permanent residents, but it was once a gold mining boom town.
We’re proudly Qualmark Gold with a Sustainable Tourism Business Award, part of the Sustainable Tourism Commitement and we’ve pleged to support the Tiaki Promise. Our commitement runs deep, and we were pleased we were in the right place, at the right time, to help out. We’ll be looking for other ways we can help over the coming days until we can get back to doing what we do best – jumping out of planes 20,000 ft in the sky. Once the bridge reopens, we’ll be up!
The good news is the bridge replacement is well underway and we are working on fixing up the runway, access road and inside of our hangar in order to get everything in ship shape order to open our doors again as soon as the bridge is open. Latest reports say the bridge will be complete towards the end of next week.
To all those affected, our thoughts are with you and thanks for the lovely messages and comments we’ve had from around the world. We can’t wait to be back!
The Skydive Franz Crew.