Fox Glacier to Queenstown
Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
163Trip End May 02, 2013
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Pulling into Wanaka we veered left and stopped at the local Department of Conservation office for advice on hikes and accommodations. Despite being pressed for time as usual we set our sights on the highly recommended Roy's Peak, an estimated six hour return track to the summit and back, meaning we'd be finished well after dark with no place to stay.
The climb was steep and strenuous but with Sylvia leading the way we made it up in 2:12
We spent the night in a rustic cabin with a timed heater on Glendhu Bay. One flat sheet and two pillowcases were all that adorned the double bed so we needed sleeping bags. Jason awoke just in time to catch the sunrise spectacle over the water. We took a stroll along the lakefront and passed a winery Sally had suggested we visit. We drove up to the hilltop location and stood in awe of the lined vineyard stretching out to the lake with the mountains keeping watch from the other side. We tasted pinot noir from both their young and old vines, both preferring the more mature version.
From Wanaka we chose the scenic route over the Cardrona Range to get to Queenstown. The corners on the descent were hair-raising and the vistas were incredible. With Arrowtown's fall colours at their peak the valley was filled with gold, appropriate considering the area's mining history
On arrival at the holiday park we pitched our tent and headed to the waterfront for a short hike. The Glenorchy Walkway wrapped around a lagoon and passed a small golf course with peak views at every turn. That night we made a huge pot of chili and sipped some more fine New Zealand wine with it.
Packing up the tent took longer than it should have and we stopped for a couple (who we'd met earlier) with a flat tire so our Routeburn Track start time was delayed. Setting another quick pace we still managed to reach our target, the Routeburn Falls Hut, stop for a one hour lunch break and descend again within the time allotted.
We have learned to be prepared for anything on these hikes. The extreme temperature variation due to whipping winds, elevation changes and simply sitting still while exposed to the elements means constantly adding or removing layers. The diversity of the landscape astounded us once again on this adventure. From lush rainforest and tussock flats to gloomy schist and glaciated peaks we saw it all. The water rushing past was ice blue and crystal clear.
At a perfectly placed picnic table on a bay we made chicken wraps with pineapple and corn salsa while the sun ducked over the mountaintops. We decided to try sleeping in the car again, this time both in the back with the seats folded all the way down. It was another suboptimal rest
On another perfect sunny day we rolled into active Queenstown and checked in to a double room at the comfy and stylish Bumbles Backpackers, then headed over to Fergburger for lunch. Sylvia ordered up the Southern Swine (prime NZ beef, streaky bacon, lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, aioli and tomato relish) and Jason opted for Sweet Bambi (South Fiordland deer with Thai plum chutney, lettuce, tomato, red onion and aioli). Both were very tasty. After a delightful stroll through town and a few purchases we booked a Doubtful Sound overnight cruise with our backpackers.
Then we drove the treacherous gravel road up to The Remarkables Ski Field. We both agreed that the 13.5 km, 45 minute steep stretch was the most dangerous and one of the most scenic we'd ever driven. From the car park the Alta Track wound up beyond the chairlifts to Lake Alta, a mountain tarn with clear ice blue water surrounded by jagged peaks. As the sun began to set the distant snow-caps emerged for spectacular panoramic vistas.
Arriving back at Bumbles well after dark we baked up lemon monk fish with spicy roasted potatoes and carrots. It was absolutely fabulous. Our tea, quiche and yogurt breakfast on the cozy couch overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the mountains was wonderful. We definitely would've enjoyed a longer stay at Bumbles and in Queenstown.