At last Haast Pass

Trip Start Jun 05, 2008
Trip End Jul 10, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  , South Island,
Monday, June 16, 2008

After a night of great comfort and late evening bangers and mash in Wanaka, we got up early to try and do the first half of the 3 hour round trip into Mount Aspiring (great names around here) national park where we hoped to walk the Rob Roy trek. The nice doctor from Doubtful Sound had raved about it - waterfalls, huge peaks, glaciers - but our luck was out. Heavy fog sat over Wanaka and after a conversation at the local info centre, we were persuaded that it wasn't a good idea, weather and road conditions as they were.
Instead we'd drive over Haast Pass (try saying it 5 times in a row quickly) and stop and take a forest and mountain walk there. The drive out of Wanaka was splendid again, the clouds lifting to reveal incredible vistas over lakes dominated by snow-capped peaks. This place has scenery in spades. Haast Pass was diverting, and we seemed to stop every 20 minutes to wander down to more waterfalls, but the bastardin' sand flies were swarming (the bites are itchy, yet not satisfying to stratch, making them a million times worse than a mozzie in my book) so we rarely stayed at any spot long.
We did climb up to the top of Haast Pass to take a look around, but the view wasn't especially great. Plus, I think we were more distracted by our conversation about whether we were really going to settle in NZ - we've been talking about this more and more recently, although the people and scenery are wonderful, the job situation and proximity to the rest of the world is not.
More spectacular scenery abounded and I singularly failed to capture its wild beauty on my camera. This is one of the most spectacular drives around. Vast glacial valleys with wide stone-filled flat rivers, all with massive mountains looming over them. We got to the wild west coast by afternoon and started making our way towards Franz Josef, the little town that sits beneath a large glacier - which we very much hope to climb tomorrow.
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