We welcomed our first full day in Wanaka and the South Island responded with a gloriously sunny day complete with blue skies and few, if any, clouds.
However, with all the adventuring we’ve been doing, this happened to coincide with a “down day” for the family – we didn’t get up until a record breaking 9:30am! It was easily 11am before we’d all been fed and in any shape to consider going out. That said, a down day is still _a day_ and as you would expect, we went out and did some more exploring.
We departed the resort at 10:51am (according to my camera) and we drove through town, passing Lake Wanaka in the process. As you can see from the “drive-by” photograph, it was a most beautiful day, especially compared to the bland drabness of yesterday.
Our destination was beyond the north most point of Lake Wanaka, which for the record is HUGE, it is a part of a river called the “Blue Pools”. This area is about 30 mins on foot from the state highway (6). The route took us through Albert Town and then past Lake Hawea.
Approaching Lake Hawea
About half way along the side of the lake there was a very well located lookout, from which I snapped the following pano:
The views are simply breathtaking.
The road eventually curves west and leaves Lake Hawea to join Lake Wanaka, but much, much further north than where the town is located. The Lake seems to run for at least 100 kms, and the road appears to join the lake about 2/3rds of the way.
To make the most of the time, we didn’t stop on the way north really. I shot most photos out of the passenger side window, as we didn’t want to disturb Damian who’d fallen asleep in the back seat.
Eventually we passed the tiny hamlet of Makarora which marked almost the end of the lake itself. The land transformed into pasture land, and we saw sheep, cattle and even deer as we travelled north.
Once we’d entered the Mount Aspiring National Park, it wasn’t long until we found the parking for the Blue Pools. The walk starts off in the thick of what feels like a rainforest, with a path taking us west into the mountain range.
Before long we came to a suspension bridge running across a roaring river. The river water was so clear it was amazing – our trek took us across the bridge and continuing south along the base of the mountain. We then came to yet another bridge which spans the area known as the Blue Pools. The beautiful crystal clear water ran from the mountainside
We eventually left the bridge and walked down into the river itself. The water temperature must have been about 8 degrees, but I waded into it anyway. The boys and Toni dipped their toes in from the rocky shore, and Jake practiced displacing rocks from their sunny home into the shallow cold nearby (he dumped rocks into the water).
Our return trek took us back over the bridge and into the woods. Jake and Damian both insisted on walking a good portion of the return journey on foot, so it took a wee bit longer than anticipated.
We decided to go further north to explore the Haast Pass, but when we got there all there was was a lookout which was 30 minutes away on foot. We passed, and turned the car around to head back.
On the return voyage, we stopped quite frequently for photo stops, along both Lake Wanaka and a little bit along Lake Hawea.
The rest of the journey was pretty much uneventful. We stopped at the Wanaka town centre briefly to interrogate the tourist information centre, but mostly we made our way back to the resort to close out the day in the pool.. unfortunately it looks like this might have led to the eventual (pool-based) destruction of my iPhone. Time will tell if it’s recoverable.
Well, that’s enough for a “day off”. Check back tomorrow for more.