New Zealand: The drive to Wanaka

Waking up

We woke up just as the sun rose and headed out to see where it was we'd camped the night before. We were pleased to see that we were on the edge of a lake.

Waking by the lake Sunrise streaks the sky The still lake

The lake was completely still, with the sunrise on one side and the full moon on the other side of the lake. All of this shrouded in mist and silence.

A wonderful start to the day!

Visiting the Penguins

A disgruntled sheep

Our first stop for the day was a nearby beach where there was supposed to be a penguin colony. We arrived there well before eight and as a result were not surpised to see that the only other living thing in the car park was a rather disgruntled sheep - who was none to pleased to be disturbed at this hour of the morning. (Although once we took out the camera it adopted a very innocent expression!)

Forest path

The beach was a half hour walk through a fern covered rainforest, along another of the DOC's carefully planned paths which paralled the river's course until it reached the beach itself.

Morning breakers

We were the only living thing on the beach, according to a helpful sign the pengiuns had already left for the day! Their rush hour being the hour before the sun came up!

However the beach itself was worth a visit, with two meter waves breaking in the bright morning sunlight.


Our solitude continued when we reached Haast, our designated breakfast stop. We actually had passed through before we realised that the collection of five or six buildings was actually the town!

We parked in front of the town's cafe and headed in for our breakfast and to perform our morning abulations (the joys of free camping!). We had the place to ourselves and sat out on the covered balcony enjoying the morning sun.

Haast Pass

A disgruntled sheep

The road from the west coast to Wanaka goes through Haast Pass and is flanked by beech forest. There are lots of places worth stopping and it was a direct result of this that our planned three hour drive ended up taking us almost seven hours!

One of the most amazing stops was the Blue Pools. These pools are reached are a 15 minute walk that takes you over a rather precarious swing bridge and through a beautiful forest track. The pools themselves are so clear that you can easily make out the fish on the bottom!

Swing Bridge Blue Pools Mountain reflected in the Blue Pools

Other stops that were more than worthwhile were the waterfalls of Thunder and Fantail Falls and of course the amusingly named Gates of Haast.

Deer on the hillside

However after what seemed to be an incredibly short time we had left the steep sided mountain valleys of the pass itself behind and stopped for a rather late lunch at the township of Makarora. Here we enjoyed a fantastic view out over the valley - slightly spoiled by the two coach loads of boisterous english teenagers with whom we shared the resturant.

Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea

View of Lake Wanaka

Once on the road again we were started out of our post-lunch stupor by the sight of the mountains soaring over Lake Wanaka.

In fact we had no sooner become accustomed to this sight than we crossed over onto the Lake Hawea lakeside and were rewarded by yet another scenic masterpiece.

View of Lake Hawea 1 View of Lake Hawea 2 View of Lake Hawea 3

Our admiration of this wonderous landscape was only replaced by a sense of anticipation as we neared Wanaka and our meeting with Cristina's brother.


Arrival in Wanaka

Our arrival in Wanaka was slightly spoiled by the battery of our mobile dying just as we passed the town limits. This meant that we couldn't call David but in as it turned out we managed to pull into his street just as he returned home.

Once we'd parked the camper David showed us round his temporary home and then brought us round the town itself. His tour was rather hampered by the fact that every five minutes or so he was forced to exchange greetings and news with people on the street. This gave us sufficient oppertunity to observe the marked improvement in his english.

Finally we returned to his house for a delicous supper that he and his flatmates prepared.

The cooks and their handiwork Shepherds Pie David with the leftovers

The combination of good food and good company were however no match for the exertion of the day and soon after we finished eating we retired to our camper and to bed.

Prev | Index | Next