Wanaka

The morning we left Mt Cook National Park, instead of eating breakfast at the campsite, we decided to do breakfast at Lake Pukaki. It was an excellent decision…

breakfast stop

breakfast with a view

the view from our breakfast spot

a beautiful way to start the day

After breakfast, we drove to our next destination – Wanaka. It’s an up and coming resort town that could be described as a smaller version of nearby Queenstown. Wanaka has some fantastic hikes. After perusing the options at the visitor’s center, we decided on two – the Diamond Lake Track and the Rob Roy Glacier Track. That afternoon, we did the Diamond Lake Track. The hike promised wonderful views of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding alps, and it delivered. The hike starts just below Diamond Lake, then climbs above Diamond Lake to a lookout.

diamond lake

at diamond lake

diamond lake

diamond lake

making our way to the lookout

making our way to the diamond lake lookout

diamond lake lookout

diamond lake lookout

From the Diamond Lake Lookout, we continued on to the Lake Wanaka Lookout. When we arrived there, we saw some other hikers, so were able to get a couple of pictures together that aren’t selfies!

lake waneka lookout

lake wanaka lookout

all smiles :)

all smiles 🙂

From the Lake Wanaka Lookout, we hiked to the summit of Rocky Mountain (love the name, although it looked nothing like the Rocky Mountains in Colorado). There is an east track and a west track to the summit, which is nice because it allows you to do a circuit, instead of taking the same trail up and down. We took the east track up which afforded endless lake views. And on the way down, we took the west track, which provided panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

the east track

the east track

on the summit

on the summit of rocky mountain

enjoying the views from the top

enjoying the views from the top

taking the west track down (if you look close, you'll see jay)

taking the west track down rocky mountain  (if you look close, you can see jay up there)

the views just don't stop

the views just don’t stop on this hike

an ever-changing landscape

and it’s an ever-changing landscape

views of the surrounding alps as we descend

views of the surrounding alps as we descend

That night, we treated ourselves to dinner in downtown Wanaka. The following morning, we set off for the Rob Roy Glacier Track in Mount Aspiring National Park. We knew the hike would be scenic; what caught us by surprise was just how beautiful a drive it was to get there. From Wanaka, it’s a one-hour drive through the Matukituki Valley to reach the start of the hike. In addition to the impressive scenery we saw along the way, we were surprised to see so many animals! We even saw a couple New Zealand Falcon, but weren’t successful at catching them on camera.

deer (which we learned are raised on farms in NZ)

deer (which we learned are raised on farms in NZ)

elk

elk

and of course, sheep! some of which did not want to let us pass.

and of course, sheep! some of which were making it hard for us to get through!

After the scenic drive, we arrived at the Raspberry Carpark, the start of the Rob Roy Glacier Track. The first section of the hike passes through farmland. There were no fellow hikers in sight, just a lot of sheep and cattle.

sheep (obviously recently sheared)

sheep (aww…recently sheared)

hiking among the cows

hiking amongst the cows

After passing through farmland, we reach the Matukituki River and cross the river via a suspension bridge.

the matukituki river

checking out the matukituki river

the suspension bridge

the suspension bridge

view of the river from the bridge

view of the river from the bridge

After crossing the river, the track ascends the gorge of the Rob Roy Stream and climbs steadily through beech/tawhai forest.

on the track

on the trail

following the rob roy stream

the track follows the beautiful rob roy stream

rob roy stream

rob roy stream

After a steady climb along the stream and through the forest, we reached tree line. At which point, we enjoyed unobstructed views of the spectacular Rob Roy Glacier. The glacier once filled the entire valley we had hiked up. Over the years, the glacier has retreated and now sits perched above towering rock walls. It’s a beautiful site. We sat there and watched glacial waterfalls plunging off the face of the rock wall. One waterfall seemed to be floating mid-air as strong winds blew the water outward.

above tree line, in the subalpine fields of rob roy valley

views of the glacier as we enter the subalpine fields of rob roy valley

taking in the glacier view

taking in the glacier view

rob roy glacier

rob roy glacier

at the glacier

at the glacier

beautiful!

the massive rock face

waterfall floating mid-air

a waterfall blown off-course by the wind

After some time admiring the glacier, we decided to head back down. As we made our descent, we enjoyed views of the stream and the valley below.

headed back down

more views of the stream as we back down

the valley

the valley below

By the time we made our back to the suspension bridge, the winds had picked up quite a bit. It made for a windy crossing.

crossing back over the matukituki river

crossing back over the matukituki river

hold onto your hats!

hold onto your hats!

It was stunning hike – so glad we decided to do this one. And, we were thankful we got an early start that morning. We had the glacier all to ourselves when we reached the viewpoint. But as we made our way back down, we saw a lot of people hiking up. By the time we got back to the trailhead, the parking lot was full. After a quick lunch in the campervan, we set off toward our next destination…Queenstown!

3 responses to “Wanaka

  1. I was wondering whether you will be able to export your blog commentary and photos into a book easily? Does WordPress have a link to one of the photo book sites to make that simple? Too bad you were not there for the Granny Smiths to be ready, but I sure hope you did eat some of their apples!

    • Yes, we ate A LOT of New Zealand apples and they were yummy! I do plan to create a photo book. I’ve heard there are ways to do it, but haven’t figured it out all yet.

  2. I want to see that photo book whenever you make it! The matukituki river is beautiful~wonder what the origin & name means?? Loved all the animals you encountered.

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