Wanaka and the Haast Pass

Trip Start Jan 01, 2008
Trip End Dec 29, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Thursday, June 19, 2008

We decide to head off to Wanaka, stopping en route at one of the ubiquitous fruit stalls to stock up on, amongst other things apples, oranges and Kiwi fruit, all of which are amazingly cheap compared with back home (and much, much nicer).

Wanaka is a major ski resort in winter so we take the opportunity to do a bit of shopping for some warm weather gear and some walking boots for Carolyn whose current boots are on their last legs (she has continually ignored my advice to replace them which I have been offering since we started on this trip!). Wanaka is a really pretty town, much, I would imagine, like a ski resort in Switzerland or Austria (but without the leather shorts!). Again it is set by a large lake and is overlooked by Mount Aspiring which is where the ski runs are.

We spend some time at the The Puzzling World of Stuart Landsborough just outside of town.  It is fun and is just full of weird puzzle type things.  We especially liked the balancing section, where nothing is what it seemed  -  balls and water flowed uphill and a room where perception was so distorted that you became small or tall depending on which door you entered.   Bizarre indeed! 

Because of my inbuilt pre-disposition towards accidents, we fight the urge to learn to ski. Instead we find a small campsite on the outskirts of town which has hot tubs and saunas in which we spend most of the afternoon.

The next day is spent driving through the spectacular Haast Pass, along the shores of Lake Wanaka (which is around 30 miles long). En route we stop off for a short walk to The Blue Pools. The walk, which takes about 20 mins, takes us across yet another (very long) swing bridge and down the side of a river valley to a small tributary stream where the water is just incredibly blue and clear. We spend a while walking around the banks of the pools and then head back to the bridge. Unfortunately we are to late to avoid a busload of backpackers crossing the bridge in the opposite direction. A bit of a traffic jam while we wait for the 30/40 of them to cross, but it gives us time to ponder on the advantages of independent travel -v- organised touring (it seemed like hell on some of those buses!) and no one ever seems to smile or seem vto be enjoying themselves.

We continue onwards and our overnight stop at Lake Paringa. Again, we park up on the lakeshore at another DOC site and again, there is no one else around and again, another beautiful sunset. The sunset is, however, nothing compared to the sunrise over the lake. It is completely still, and mist covers the lake as the sun breaks through. A truly surreal scene and a photographers dream! But no time to hang around as our next stop is the Fox Glacier


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