Couple's plans for iceberg wedding go for a skate

An enterprising couple's plan to get married on an iceberg has hit a large obstacle.

Lawyer Bridget Byers and builder Donald Wyatt, of Dunedin, had their big day all mapped out. They would jump in a helicopter with a marriage celebrant, land on an iceberg off the Otago coast, and get hitched on a floating piece of the Antarctic.

But now the helicopter pilot has said it is too dangerous to land on a berg and Internal Affairs has cast doubt on the legality of the union.

When contacted yesterday, Ms Byers confirmed the plan but said she had been negotiating with a women's magazine and declined any further comment.

However, Southern Lakes Helicopter pilot Richard Hayes, of Te Anau, said the couple had been in touch but the wedding was on hold as he felt it was too dangerous to land on an iceberg.

Ice was falling off them all the time and it was hard to find a safe place to land, he said.

In the eyes of the law, the couple might also be on thin ice. Internal Affairs spokeswoman Marguerite Fahy said people had to be within 12 nautical miles of the coast to be legally married.

The icebergs are at least double that distance from land.

She said captains of ships sometimes married people at sea but obviously there was no captain of an iceberg.

Clutha mayor Juno Hayes, a licensed marriage celebrant, said he had been contacted about the wedding last Saturday but had heard nothing since.

Civil Aviation Authority communications manager Bill Sommer said they had concerns about a helicopter landing on an iceberg.

There was nothing to stop a person asking a commercial operator to go out and land on the iceberg "but we would hope the commercial operator would talk to us before they go ahead with it", he said.

"Helicopters land on glaciers but they are not likely to break in half.

"The captain is ultimately responsible for the safety of the passengers."

Flights going to the icebergs were not landing on them. Helicopters Otago was not interested in landing on the iceberg and other helicopter companies contacted yesterday said they would not be landing on the icebergs.

- OTAGO DAILY TIMES

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