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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
After passing through farmland, we reach the Matukituki River and cross the river via a suspension bridge.
After crossing the river, the track ascends the gorge of the Rob Roy Stream and climbs steadily through beech/tawhai forest.
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.
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.
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.
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!